Morning Five: 07.21.15 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 21st, 2015

  1. Last night, Harry Giles, the top recruit in the class of 2016, announced his five finalists: Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Wake Forest. Giles, a 6’10” forward from Winston Salem, has been reported to be interested in playing alongside Jayson Tatum, a top five recruit in the class of 2016 and Giles’ roommate while they played for Team US in the U19 FIBA World Championships. Given that Tatum committed to Duke earlier this month it would seem that the Blue Devils would be favorites for Giles although the hometown pull of Winston Salem and the fact that Chris Paul is the sponsor of his AAU team (and probably in Giles’ ear a lot) could sway him to go to Wake. Giles has not set a date for when he will make his choice, but if you want to learn more about him be sure to check out Luke Winn’s profile on Giles.
  2. Yesterday, the NCAA announced some tweaks to its NCAA Tournament selection process that address the play-in games (yes, that’s what they are) and how the highest seeded teams are placed in the bracket. The play-in game change is a really just a revision in the language that gives the Selection Committee the autonomy to select whichever teams it sees fit to be placed in the play-in games. As you may remember this past March, UCLA’s inclusion in the main field without having to even win a play-in game generated quite a bit of controversy given their unimpressive resume. UCLA avoided the play-in games as they were not technically one of the last four teams in. If that happens again this year, the NCAA can point to this clause as a reason to put a team like that in the play-in games. The other change allows the Selection Committee greater freedom in balancing its top two seed lines. Now instead of focusing on geography when placing these teams they can focus on competitive balance. An example of this was the near-meltdown last year on Twitter when Wisconsin and Kentucky were almost placed in the same (Midwest) region. While they won’t go to the S-curve that Joe Lunardi loves to talk about, they will try to make the top two seed lines more evenly balanced.
  3. The NCAA also announced yesterday that it will be distributing an additional $18.9 million to its member schools to help offset the schools expenses for cost-of-attendance, additional food, and various other expenses. The money will be distributed evenly to every Division 1 school so it works out to around $55,000 per school. While that might seem like a small amount (and it probably is to the big-name programs), it is actually a fairly large sum of money to schools that operate on more modest budgets. This $18.9 million will be in addition to the more than $500 million the NCAA already distributes to the schools and conferences. Having said that, we’re sure that Mark Emmert and the rest of the NCAA big shots in Indianapolis will still manage to get by.
  4. As much as we hate what some lawyers do, we have to admit that occasionally be of some use. Such is the case of Austin Nichols, who announced that he was transferring from Memphis at the beginning of the month. While the announcement was not that unusual given the mass exodus out of the program, the timing irritated many within the Memphis program as well as few writers who voiced their displeasure with his timing. So when Memphis announced that they would not be granting Nichols a release to any AAC schools, Tennessee, Virginia, Iowa, and Providence most people assumed it would be a drawn-out battle between the two sides particularly since Virginia is widely considered the favorite to land Nichols–they had been one of his favorites before he went to Memphis and there are reports that billionaire Paul Tudor Jones II may be steering him there. Instead of waiting for Memphis to give in to public pressure, the Nichols’ family hired a high-priced attorney who cited the Sherman Antitrust Act while questioning the legality of the transfer restrictions. If you thought the Ed O’Bannon case was bad for the NCAA, you can imagine what an antitrust case would have looked like. As you can imagine, Memphis quickly “reviewed” the case and removed any transfer restrictions.
  5. If you want to know why conferences (and in some cases schools) are so eager to get their own TV networks, we would refer you to the report that the Big Ten distributed $1 million to each of its schools for the 2014-15 fiscal year from the revenue it generated from the Big Ten Network. While the BTN has been profitable since the 2011-12 fiscal year, the conference had been holding back that money to deal with conference realignment. The $1 million per school may fall short of what some other conferences have been able to generate, but when it makes up approximately 3% of the money a school receives from the one of the most prominent conferences in America it is far from an insignificant amount.
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Morning Five: 07.08.15 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 8th, 2015

morning5
It has been quite a while since we did our regular Morning 5s for a variety of reason (work, life, etc), but we’re back now and will be doing these more regularly. We won’t be posting these daily until the start of the season at earliest, but we will probably be posting once or twice weekly depending on how much news is out there. We won’t be going over all the news that happened since the last time we did one of these because that would be a 10,000-word post and that is only if we kept it brief.

  1. Lost in the hysteria around the Women’s World Cup title was the fact that the US also won another significant world title on Sunday: the FIBA Under-19 championship. While their win over Croatia wasn’t the prettiest thing you will ever see, it was nice to see some of our top prospects play together against high-level competition. There are a ton of places we could point you recap the action and highlight the guys you should be keeping an eye on, but we will just direct you to a pair of excellent columns from Luke Winn and Jon Givony. Winn’s column is a sweeping overview of Team USA with particular attention to Jalen Brunson (going to Villanova) and Harry Giles (a rising high school senior who is the projected #1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft). Givony is still putting together his review posts, but his look at the top five point guards is informative and helps you look outside of Team USA, which is important because many of these international players will end up playing college basketball. We expect that Givony will review the other positions in the coming days so watch out for those.
  2. Having a top-tier player decide to transfer is not shocking in the current era, but when that player announces his intent on July 7–like Austin Nichols did yesterday–it certainly catches your attention. The rising junior forward, who averaged 13.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last year, informed Josh Pastner of his decision last week, but did not publicly reveal his decision until yesterday afternoon when he announced his intendt to transfer from Memphis. Pastner, who says he was caught off-guard by the decision, has stated he will not release Nichols for his transfer. While most people will be quick to criticize Pastner and his staff for not granting Nichols a release, the timing of this announcement is at just about the worst possible time for Memphis since every high-level recruit and transfer for the upcoming season has already committed to play elsewhere. In the end, we suspect that Nichols will get his release, but that may depend on what we find out about why Nichols decided to transfer in early July. As for Pastner, Nichols will be the seventh player to transfer from the program since last year. Given how underwhelming the program has been during his time there, we are not sure how much longer he will last in Memphis.
  3. Coming into this season, Eron Harris was expected to play a big part in Michigan State‘s attempt to make another run to the Final Four, but that may be in jeopardy as the junior transfer was arrested early on July 1 for driving while intoxicated leading Tom Izzo to suspend him indefinitely. Harris, who averaged 17.2 points per game as a sophomore at West Virginia in the 2013-14 season, sat out last season as one of the few transfers in the country who did not qualify for a transfer waiver. Harris will be arraigned on July 17 and faxes a maximum of 93 days in jail and a $500 fine. Given what we have seen in these case we doubt that Harris will spend any time in jail. At most he might get a suspended sentence or do some community service and then it will be up to Izzo to decide how much time Harris will have to miss.
  4. We will admit that we don’t pay that much attention to high school prospects until they are seniors and even then it is mostly around the time that high school All-American teams are announced that we start to recognize names. So when we saw posts on Twitter about how Florida State had landed a 5-star recruit, we initially assumed it was for football because even with their surprising incoming freshmen class the Seminoles have never been considered a threat for top basketball recruits. That was not the case with 6’9″ forward Jonathan Isaac, who climbed up the rankings rapidly in 2015, as the rising senior announced that he was committing to FSU. The decision took some by surprise particularly since Isaac had previously stated he was considering 12 schools including Kentucky and LSU (we know it seems weird to mention them, but with their incoming class they deserve it). In the end, it appears that FSU’s early pursuit of Issac–they had been recruiting him for two years even when he was less highly touted–paid off. Of course, there is still quite a bit of time before Isaac would start playing in Tallahassee so we wouldn’t write this one in pen just yet.
  5. The NCAA released its annual attendance report earlier this week and while the figures aren’t exactly shocking they are worth looking at for some interesting trends. You can read plenty of articles or tweets about how you can play with the numbers in the NCAA report, but attendance was basically steady (up or down a little bit depending on how you calculate it). Syracuse repeated as the leaders in home attendance narrowly edging Kentucky for the second year in a row in that category after Kentucky had finished first 17 of the previous 18 years. While that is particularly impressive for Syracuse with a mediocre team that self-imposed a NCAA Tournament ban, it is worth noting that the Carrier Dome has the capacity for more than 10,000 more fans than Rupp Arena can seat and if they built 10,000 more seats in Rupp they would have been filled for Kentucky this past season. Although Kentucky was not able to overcome its seating disadvantage in that category, Big Blue Nation came through giving the Wildcats a decisive edge in overall attendance (home and away). It is worth noting that Duke would have been much closer to Kentucky in that category (Wisconsin came in second) if they did not have their own home seating disadvantage with almost 13,000 fewer seats for home games. Duke will just have to comfort itself with taking home the national title.
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Who’s Got Next? Jaylen Brown’s California Dreamin’ & UNC Lands Shooter

Posted by Sean Moran on May 5th, 2015

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

On Friday night prep small forward Jaylen Brown shocked the recruiting world and committed to California, spurning the likes of Kentucky, Michigan and North Carolina in the process. With his second top-10 commitment in a month, Cuonzo Martin will have all eyes on him as his program makes the leap to become a favorite in the Pac-12 and a contender in the national title race. The 6’7” Brown is considered the No. 1 player in the country by Scout.com and among the top three from both ESPN and Rivals. DraftExpress also lists Brown in the No. 2 spot in their 2016 Mock Draft. The senior is a physically imposing small forward who at 220 pounds will make an impact on the Berkeley campus from Day 1. His playing style is that he prefers to attack the basket off the dribble while his outside shot is steadily improving. The young star is quite often compared to former Arizona star, Stanley Johnson, the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and All-American who averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in his lone season in Tucson.

Brown’s recruiting history has been a mixed bag. The Marietta (GA) native took official visits to both Kansas and Kentucky for their Midnight Madness events last fall. He tacked on a UCLA official during the first weekend of November followed by a North Carolina visit for its exciting win over Louisville in January. Instead of cutting his list of college suitors down as his senior year progressed, however, Brown expanded it. After hitting the game-winning free throws in the Georgia 6A state championship, the senior took his last official visit to Michigan in March and then went on a surprise unofficial visit to California immediately afterward. He played his cards close to the vest and kept everyone guessing about where he was headed until the very last minute. He eliminated Kansas, Georgia, and Georgia Tech in the week prior to his announcement, and after his high school basketball banquet last week, he continued a curious trend of some five-star players spurning the college elite in committing to an unheralded Cal program.

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A Column of Enchantment: Are We Still Alive During the Offseason?

Posted by Joseph Nardone on April 16th, 2015

Last week I tried to give everyone advice as how they should deal with the college basketball offseason. Hopefully you listened. Sans, you know, the part about pitting your children against each other in a fistfight for lukewarm milk. You could probably have done without that. Still, the season has been over for what seems like forever now. Have you adjusted properly? Did you, or did you not, kill anyone because you are really struggling to find ways to entertain yourself? I know. It is tough. We should keep trying to get through this together. At least we have the rest of the (much saner than I) Rush the Court staff to keep us informed of all the offseason maneuvers.

Some of Us at Moe's Are Already in Sleep Mode (credit: Simpsons/FOX)

Some of Us at Moe’s Are Already in Sleep Mode (credit: Simpsons/FOX)

There is something new to talk about this week, though. It continues on our path of dealing with the offseason blues. For me, at least, it is something I probably think about far too often as it is, but figured I’d incorporate you little Johnny McPoopsticks in on the conversation. I want to know if you people are all real. Like, as in actual real human beings, or if you have been put on this planet solely for my amusement. Maybe I should explain a wee bit further.

———————–

Have you guys ever seen that Simpsons episode where Homer leaves Moe’s and Moe tells the other two customers that “He’s gone. Time to shut off.” and they all go in some sleep-like state? Yeah. About that. I think that is how all of you are. For real life. I don’t think every single person that reads this is actually a real person. Think about it for a second. Do you think I am a real entity? That every Wednesday I type on my laptop for you to read A Column of Enchantment on Thursdays? Or, more likely, I am just some digital code or work of (your) God put here to entertain you. I mean, you have never met me. You have no idea what I do when I am not typing on my laptop for your pleasure. For all you know, as soon as you read this I go into hibernation until the following week or fly back to my home planet of 0923498234 (We are advanced. We use numbers because math is the universal language).

More so: There is no way all you people can exist. Seriously. There are billions upon billions of people supposedly living on our planet. I have met, maybe, like a few thousand of you. Even a large portion of those people are just bodies walking by me. They might have empty craniums, possibly robot-like, and are only there for my eyeballs to see in an attempt to trick me into thinking there are other fully functioning members of society. And I don’t buy it for a single second.

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A Column of Enchantment: Offseason Blues, Man

Posted by Joseph Nardone on April 9th, 2015

That was fun. We got to experience college basketball in its best form during the NCAA Tournament. We had upsets, fun stories, and a slew of hyperbole (my personal favorite). The season even ended with the vampire known to the public as Coach K winning his fifth national title. It couldn’t have gone better, really. I mean that. The ratings were good; people used those ratings to blindly ignore glaring issues within the sport; and the world is a better place for it… or something — likely something, but whatever.

This man scoffs at your criticism. (AP)

This man scoffs at your criticism. (AP)

It is over, though. Sad days are upon us. Grab a box of tissues if you will, but (spoiler alert) the college basketball season is over. Dead. Murdered by the final buzzer going off in the championship game. The 2014-15 season is history. Ancient history if you hate Duke and just a rumor of a season that will join other urban legends if you are a Kentucky fan. Regardless, it is over and it isn’t coming back unless George Carlin shows up at your doorstep with a gosh slam phone booth (under 28 year-olds, Google it). If my mom taught me anything — well, anything other than knowing I am the greatest, ever — it is the past is in the past for a reason. It is time to move on. I mean, we gave the Duke fan base a full three days to relish in their victory. Time is up now. Seriously, Duke, what have you done for me lately? Not to mention that Coach K’s acceptance (all the sarcasm) of the one-and-done philosophy being used as a way to further elevate his standing is as laughable as it is to look in the mirror. What, just me?

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A Column of Enchantment: The Final Chapter of the Steve Lavin Story

Posted by Joseph Nardone on April 2nd, 2015

(Ed. Note: The first chapter of the Lavin story can be located here. Also, quotes may or may not be verbatim. Or accurate.)

The dark clouds have parted over the St. John’s campus. Despite much speculation regarding a possible extension, the Red Storm athletic department has parted ways with head coach Steve Lavin. Different reports have stated that Lavin was looking for more money and an extension, but that doesn’t matter now — the Johnnies have gone in another direction. One which they hope will bring much shine back to the program. That direction is going to be led by the greatest player in the history of their program, Chris Mullin. Still, Lavin has one last (short) adventure left in his story.

As he parts, Steve Lavin leaves Chris Mullin with some words of wisdom ... kinda. (ESPN)

As he parts, Steve Lavin leaves Chris Mullin with some words of wisdom … kinda. (ESPN)

———————-

Lavin is cleaning out his office. Unlike most other college basketball coaches, though, his office isn’t filled with film, game plans, or any other type of traditional coach’s office fillers. Instead it has a desk filled with restaurant menus, a calendar on the wall with the dates filled in with reservation times, and a coffee cup filled with a weird, green looking juice. This was Lavin’s home. Not anymore, though, as he has to leave it clean for the person who is taking his job. As he is cleaning out his office he makes a decision to be a good man. Lavin, as he often does, decides that he should leave Mullin a note that has some positive reinforcement in it. As with all things Lavin, though, the note becomes less of a good look memo and more of a watch your back warning.

Dear Chris Mullin,

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Who’s Got Next? McDonald’s All-American Preview

Posted by Sean Moran on April 1st, 2015

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

The 38th annual McDonald’s All-American game tips off at the United Center in Chicago tonight at 8:00 PM ET. With the Final Four just around the corner, this star-studded game provides an inside look at the players that will impact the college game as freshmen next season. For example, there are four freshmen on each of the Duke and Kentucky rosters that participated in this game last year. While the diehard recruitnik already knows all about the players who populate the East and West teams, here is a high-level overview of what to watch for tonight for those who are more focused on the college game.

No. 1 Recruiting Class

Arizona currently has the No. 1 recruiting class but only one of its four signees is playing in the game. Kentucky is ranked No. 2 and it only has one player playing as well. What gives? For starters, Arizona has signed three five-star prospects but only shooting guard Allonzo Trier is playing in the game. Trier is an electric scorer who is certain to get his fair share of points tonight. The other future desert Wildcats are small forward Ray Smith, who is the No. 15 prospect in the country, 6’5” point guard Justin Simon (No. 20) and 6’11” forward Chance Comanche (No. 44). Power forward Ivan Rabb (No. 5) has also narrowed his choice down to California and Arizona. As for Kentucky, combo guard Isaiah Briscoe (No. 18) is the lone representative in this year’s game and the physical New Jersey product will do his best tonight by attacking the basket and creating for his teammates. The crown jewel of the Kentucky recruiting class is currently the No. 3 recruit in 6’11” forward Skal Labissiere. The Haitan native has immense long-term potential but he also has the NCAA interested in his background. Guard Charles Matthews, who is not currently ranked in the top 50, rounds out the class. Once the Final Four is over and several current Wildcats announce their NBA decisions, expect this class to grow by several more names and for Kentucky to once again lay claim to the top recruiting class in the nation.

Unsigned Players

A common refrain from both parents and NBA scouts attending the McDonald’s All-American practices was that it is in the best interests of the players to wait as long as they could before making a commitment. That way the families would have an opportunity to see what was going on with the coaching carousel in addition to learning which players are declaring for the NBA. As a result in this shift of thinking, there are a record number of unsigned seniors in this year’s class. Keep an eye on the below names.

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Who’s Got Next? Elite Big Man Diamond Stone Selects Maryland

Posted by Sean Moran on March 30th, 2015

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Maryland exceeded expectations by going 28-7 in its first Big Ten season and now Mark Turgeon’s club is doing the same on the recruiting front with the unexpected weekend commitment of five-star center Diamond Stone, the No. 4 prospect in the senior class. The 6’10” big man from Milwaukee committed to the Terps on Friday night and in turn significantly raised expectations for Maryland next season.

Stone’s name first popped on the radar in 2012 as he established himself as an overpowering freshman. He won a Wisconsin Division 4 championship that year and didn’t stop from there, having just capped off his fourth title in a row at Dominican High School with a 23-point, 15-rebound performance. Through it all, Stone maintained his status as one of the top players in his class and at times held down the overall No. 1 ranking. Over the past two summers, Stone was a regular with the USA basketball program, winning gold medals at the U-16 FIBA Americas event and at the U-17 FIBA World Championships. He started all 12 games for Team USA and averaged 13.6 points and 7.2 rebounds and 13.4 points and 9.7 rebounds, respectively, during those international events.

Recruitment

Stone’s recruitment has been a long and winding road with many twists and turns. Local powers Wisconsin and Marquette established themselves early with the Golden Eagles rumored to be the leader with Stone taking numerous unofficial visits to the campus right next door. Schools from all over the country soon joined that pair in the race as Stone received offers from Georgetown, Indiana, Duke, North Carolina and UCLA. When Buzz Williams left for Virginia Tech a year ago, Marquette received a commitment from Henry Ellenson and dropped out. The four schools that remained were Wisconsin, Connecticut, Oklahoma State and Maryland, with the College Park school seeming like the longest shot. UConn was discussed as the leader as recently as last summer (and a package deal with Malik Newman was supposedly in play), but Stone took official visits to all four schools in October and liked Maryland the best.

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A Column of Enchantment: There’s No Explaining, Just Read It

Posted by Joseph Nardone on March 26th, 2015

Lots of people grow up hoping to one day become a professional athlete. Whether it is a guy who gets paid to hit a ball with a stick, hurl a different-sized ball towards the general direction of a basket, or hit other people as hard as you possibly can for the sake of a touchdown, most young people have at least entertained the notion. Then, well, reality sets in. Baseball requires incredible hand-eye coordination, which you most certainly do not have. Basketball is not looking for slightly chubby 6’0″ centers. Football requires you to not be a lazy oaf who thinks that running a 40 in nine seconds is an accomplishment. After that reality sets in, folks turn to other dreams. Some think about being a firefighter, others unicorn tamers, and a few more conjure up the idea of owning a pro sports team to fill that void of pro sports aspirations. There are a few other people, like me, who dream of something else. A world where they can own their own college. Wait… what? Let me explain. The purpose of wanting to own a university is not so much to help educate our youth — I mean, they’re rather helpless at this point anyway (am I right, Mike Wilbon?) — it is to selfishly oversee and build a Division I basketball program. Seems logical, right? Eh…

Luckily for me, I have a few friends who thought this was a tremendous idea. Now that we know such a thing is actually feasible, we started the process of building our university from scratch. With that being said, though, I doubt you want to read the logistics of it all. And to be honest, neither do I. Thankfully we live in a world where technology trumps all. I discovered an app on my phone which has allowed some form of time travel. Now, I can’t actually go to the future myself, but I can pull articles from there! That’s as exciting as hell. What I will now share with you is the article I found from 30 years from now that happens to tell the story of the university Randy, Drew, Bennet and I (all Rush the Court scribblers) started to build on Tuesday. I haven’t read it myself yet. I guess we will enjoy our college’s triumphs together! I bet we did awesome and the future is as cool as heck.

RTC pic hehehe

The Tragic Story of The Club State Pool Cleaners

Posted by Michael DeCourcy Jr. on March 26th, 2045

It is amazing to think that it has been 30 years since Club State University was formed from a simple idea. It was just four guys, bloggers (remember those?), who found a loophole in the then-governing body of college sports, the NCAA. As our history books have taught us, the NCAA was a rather inept governing body. It allowed athletes to be punished over others’ clerical errors, forced kids to play basketball games on school nights, and didn’t even pay them to play. Think about that: There was a time in our country when an institution limited another group of people’s powers, while making millions upon millions of dollars off the backs of their hard work, and a good chunk of people were kind of okay with it. Alas, this story has nothing to do with the now-ancient practice of free labor. It is about four men who changed college basketball by founding one of the greatest basketball programs ever, but one that’s time has seemingly passed because of so many tragic, yet preventable events.

The Club State Pool Cleaners were the brainchild of one man. Joseph Nardone, at the time, was a rather low-level blogger, incredibly unsuccessful in the business world, longing for a day when he could do something he actually loved. Articles from those years report on Nardone’s obsession with building a Division I program despite being pretty dumb. Here is an excerpt from Sports Illustrated (you may now know it as being called Sports With No Pictures) a few months after the paperwork to legalize the school was filed:

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Morning Five: 03.24.15 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 24th, 2015

morning5

  1. We aren’t going to go over what happened last weekend because frankly you probably were sitting on the couch watching the entire thing. So that brings us to the Regionals which have plenty of intriguing story lines. In the East, we have a ridiculously wide-open field where we wouldn’t be surprised to see any of the four teams advance to Indianapolis (ok, maybe North Carolina State would be surprising). In the South, it is pretty much all chalk except for UCLA and since they don’t have an overseeded team or a Cinderella next so we don’t expect they will be around much longer. The Midwest is basically Kentucky and a bunch of other teams that pretty much everybody expects to be pushovers although we think the Elite 8 game could be interesting. To us, the West is by far the most interesting region especially with a potential WisconsinArizona match-up in the Elite 8, which could be a match-up of the second and third best teams in the country right now.
  2. Mississippi State will introduce Ben Howland as its next coach at a press conference tomorrow. The timing of introducing Howland as its new coach so soon after Rick Ray was fired makes it seem like this was either in place or essentially a done deal before Ray was fired. Landing Howland is huge for a program that frankly is a mediocre Power 5 program and that might be generous. There will be plenty of questions as to why Howland took the position so early in the coaching carousel when he presumably could have gotten a better position, but we would guess that it was because he was left without a spot last off-season.
  3. According to Gary Parrish, Alabama is set to offer Gregg Marshall over $3 million per year to try to lure him away from Wichita State. We are assuming that Alabama is at least waiting until after the Shockers are eliminated from the NCAA Tournament, but as we have seen in other cases that is not necessarily always true. Marshall was making $1.75 million a year at Wichita State according to the most recent reports we have heard so he would be making at least $1 million per year more not accounting for bonuses for performance and all the other ridiculous clauses they have in contracts to get more money (radio show, etc). With Bruce Pearl at Auburn, there is some pressure on the Alabama administration to improve their basketball program although we all know the fans of those programs judge success almost entirely by what their football team does. We will be interested to see if Marshall jumps at the chance to get more money and move to a Power 5 conference or if he stays at Wichita State with the possibility of even better positions (like Texas or Indiana) opening up in the coming weeks.
  4. President Obama has been more involved in college basketball (and sports in general) than most previous Presidents, but he has been especially involved recently with his call for student-athletes to receive guaranteed scholarships, but not financial compensation in an interview with The Huffington Post. While none of this is new–the Power 5 conferences are moving towards guaranteed scholarships and there is no official compensation–it is unusual to see a President speak about these issues. And as for his famous annual bracket, teams have started using it as motivation including Cat Barber who called out the President for picking Villanova to beat North Carolina State. It won’t happen, but we wish we could see Barber get invited to the White House and try to explain that one.
  5. We found one championship that Kentucky won’t win this year as the first men’s college basketball national championship of the year was awarded to Wisconsin-Stevens Point, which beat Augustana 70-54 on Saturday to win the Division III title. They won’t get much press for it, but it is the school’s fourth title in 12 years, which is impressive regardless of the level of competition you are playing against. We doubt that this will get more than a quick highlight over the Final Four weekend (unless Wisconsin ends up playing for the Division I title) as they typically broadcast the Division II championship game instead, but it is still worth noting.
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Rushed Reactions: #14 UAB 60, #3 Iowa State 59

Posted by Walker Carey on March 19th, 2015

rushedreactions

Rush the Court will be providing wall-to-wall coverage of each of the NCAA Tournament from each of the 13 sites this year. Follow our NCAA Tourney specific Twitter accounts at @RTCeastregion, @RTCMWregion,@RTCsouthregion and @RTCwestregion.

Three Key Takeaways.

It wasn't a good day for the Cyclones. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

It wasn’t a good day for the Cyclones. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

  1. This was an enormous upset. Iowa State entered Thursday’s game as a 14-point favorite. This large of a point spread made sense as the Cyclones were fresh off taking home the Big 12 Tournament title and were widely seen as a team that could possibly get to the Final Four. UAB only earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament by making a surprising run to the Conference USA Tournament title. No one really gave the Blazers much of a chance in this game. Only 6.9% of the brackets entered on CBSSports.com picked UAB to advance. There was really nothing in the statistics or the schedules that even suggested that this game would be close. This was March Madness at its very best. Just like that… Iowa State is going home and UAB is advancing to the Round of 32.
  2. UAB controlled the glass all afternoon. The biggest factor that went into UAB pulling off the upset was its utter dominance on the glass. The Blazers ended the game with a 52-37 rebounding advantage today. In that rebounding advantage was a striking 19-9 advantage on the offensive glass. Tyler Madison, a reserve swingman, collected nine offensive rebounds alone in just 14 minutes of playing time. This vast rebounding advantage allowed UAB to take Iowa State out of its offensive rhythm and really slow down the game.
  3. Georges Niang turned in a nightmare game in the loss. Thursday afternoon will be a day to forget for Niang. Less than a week after taking home the Big 12 Tournament Most Outstanding Player award, the junior had a game to forget as his team was sent to an early exit. Saddled by early foul trouble, Niang was never able to get into any sort of offensive rhythm. While 11 points and seven rebounds is not a terrible line to finish with, Niang went just 4-of-15 from the floor and committed three of Iowa State’s 11 turnovers. Sometimes good players just have off games. That was certainly the case with Niang in Iowa State’s stunning defeat.

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A Column of Enchantment: I am Miserable So You Will Be Too

Posted by Joseph Nardone on March 19th, 2015

A Column of Enchantment has been a fun and weird thing since it debuted a few months ago on Rush the Court. When Randy and I discussed the idea of it — a barely about college basketball college basketball column — he got what I was trying to pitch. The basic premise of it was that there were no real actual premise or structure to it. That being said, I have often relied upon the touching of three major topics after I meet you with the opening paragraph. In that particular structure we have compared Kentucky to Lobsters battling Unicorns, talked about Christian Slater being awesome and often talked about my man-crush on Fred Hoiberg. Other times I don’t even actually cover college basketball. I’ll talk about Dancing With The Stars and mask the absurdity of doing so by adding a few college hoops figures to the cast. Then there’s the time I wrote a fictional Steve Lavin story and, well, people seemed to enjoy it. Basically, the easiest way to describe this column: utter poop-show of sometimes awesomeness.

Much like this North Florida band member Wednesday evening, this week's Column of Enchantment is going through sort of a crisis. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Much like this North Florida band member Wednesday evening, this week’s Column of Enchantment is going through sort of a crisis. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

All in all, A Column of Enchantment has been about fun, bad jokes, even worse analogies, often not talking about college basketball and mostly the idea that it is okay to not be a college basketball writer who takes himself too seriously. There are enough of those types of college basketbloggers in the world — not to mention those who are void of personality or seem to have no earthly idea what they are talking about. There are good ones too. That is certainly worth mentioning. In my less than humble opinion I think that the college basketball media world is packed with the best group of any of the groups of sports writing out there. Regardless, I just wanted A Column of Enchantment to help break up your day as well as mine, bring a smile to the dozen of you guys who read (and enjoy) this and even poke fun at myself.

Yet here I am. A miserable fellow. Things have been tough on your good ole pal Joe lately. That’s not something you care to hear about, I know — and honestly, I really don’t give a fudge. Other sports writers scribble their thoughts for money, fame, validation or other tangible reasons. I put mine on the laptop because I like feeling creative and it has always been a way to relieve stress. Even if it means I don’t add anything extra to the discourse that is the sport. That’s probably not fair — and is a certainly a horrible way to go writing about sports — but that’s my style. If you are like some of the people who have somehow found my email address (when I didn’t have it publicly listed) and decided to email me to tell me you like my stuff but think I am a bit too kooky, you can go to the other site where I write on the topic of college hoops more seriously. But for now you’re here at RTC, reading A Column of Enchantment, so you are going to listen me whine a bit. Stop reading now if you don’t want to deal with it. With that being said, though, I’ll still try to manage to hurl in some bad jokes for you too because I’m most certainly a man of the people.

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March Madness is here. Like, for real here. It is my favorite time of the year and probably yours too. I mean, there’s nothing like a little unpaid labor making millions upon millions of dollars for universities who do everything in their power to keep those without it from having some. Those unpaid laborers are also playing some single-game elimination hoops for our entertainment. Since we have long ago been able to compartmentalize those facts, which has allowed us to enjoy said Tournament without guilt, we should all be incredibly happy. Expect, um, I am not.

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