11.10.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on November 10th, 2009

In getting all the preview stuff together, we lost a little track of the news other than the endless suspensions and injuries…

  • NCAA Not Backing Down on Renardo Sidney.  If the information that Gary Parrish wrote in his “Three Storylines” articles is true, then Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney may not play this season at all.  According to the Sidney family attorney, the NCAA requested additional evidence beyond what the Sidneys gave them two weeks ago — specifically, “records that identify the sources of each [bank] deposit, cellular phone records for every family member since Jan. 1, 2006, records to indicate where every payroll check was deposited, etc.”  To an untrained ear, that sounds like the NCAA isn’t buying what the Sidneys are selling.  The evidence that the Sidneys previously provided — bank statements and the like — don’t mean a whole lot unless they can show the funds in those accounts are not a product of financial tomfoolery.  So, what now for the Sidneys?  MSU’s first game is against Rider on Friday night, so their only recourse might be to take things to court, but the NCAA could probably motion up/down/sideways until March to keep Sidney off the floor if it wanted to make a point.  Even if Sidney sought injunctive relief in the interim, MSU is unlikely to play Sidney until he’s eligible by NCAA standards.  Well, Jarvis Varnado and John Riek still makes for a nasty frontcourt, right? 
  • Arkansas SuspensionsCourney Fortson and Stefan Welsh were indefinitely suspended by John Pelphrey today for their roles in various discipinary actions over the offseason.  Additionally, reserve Marcus Britt will miss six games, freshman Glenn Bryant will miss two games, and walk-on Nick Mason will miss the fall semester.  The latter three players were at a fraternity party last month where a student alleged several players raped her.  The local prosecutor (who is related to Arkansas brass) said there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward, but the case has now been brought to a special prosecutor for further review.
  • Vegas Watch Mammoth Preview.  It was finished over the weekend, so here’s the link to the entire thing in one place.  The analysis we performed here reflects VW’s vision as to how to project the 2009-10 teams in a quantifiable manner, and we think he’s done a pretty damn good job at developing a formula that properly takes into account returnees plus incoming recruits.  Keep an eye on things over there this week as he rolls out a list of the final projected ratings among the BCS conferences (and a few others) sliced and diced in various ways. 
  • Preaseason Stuff.  There’s more out in the last week than we know what to do with, and besides you have our Everything You Need to Know… post to guide you there, but let’s look at some of the better things we’ve seen.  Luke Winn has his 16 most entertaining players in America, while Jeff Goodman gives his 65 storylines to watch for this season and even found time to do a little bracket work.   Mike DeCourcy encourages us all to buy blue-chip stocks this year and also lists his top storylines and questionsGary Parrish believes that the Big 12 is the best conference in the land this year, and he also projects a bracket for us while sprinkling around his all-americans.  Everybody’s doing this bracket thing these days, including Jerry Palm, whose done it once or twice before.  And for good measure, here’s the Fox Sports power rankings.
  • Quick HitsKen Bone: unpluggedDeCourcy: why cupcakesBob Knight: as expected, did not attend his IU Hall of Fame induction over the weekendCal Faculty: nonbinding vote to end athletic department subsidiesScout: top 100 prospects of 2010Isiah: got his mom’s blessing to coach Monday night.  UNC Throwbacks: why would Carolina ever have red in its unisJeff Capel: Big 12 is the bestDeniz Kilicli: WVU freshman forward will sit until FebruaryVillanova: How Scottie Reynolds almost ended up at OklahomaDave Odom: your new Maui chairmanACC Tourney: headed back to the ATL in 2012 (but at Phillips Arena, not the Ga Dome).  Luke Apfeld: Vermont player tears ACL again.
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10.22.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 22nd, 2009

It’s coming fast and furious now.  Eighteen days…

  • Adidas/Nike Flap at UCF.  So you probably know that Michael Jordan’s other son (the one not acting all wishy-washy at Illinois) is a freshman guard at Central Florida.  It didn’t take long, but Marcus Jordan has already become notorious in the national media for something other than his play on the court.  The issue is that UCF allegedly promised him during his recruitment that he could wear Nike shoes (hundreds of millions of dollars to the trust fund might have something to do with that), but the school has an airtight agreement with adidas that all of their sports teams will be outfitted with their shoes and apparel.  This is a huge deal for UCF, who, as a mid-major cannot afford to lose the $3M that adidas is paying for the privilege; but, it brings up issues of individual rights versus contractual obligations and appears to be getting messy.  The practical solution would be what often happens when a rich kid is in trouble – Daddy Warbucks swoops in with the checkbook in hand.  The Jordan brand could theoretically buy out the adidas contract and add UCF to their portfolio, but ultimately that would have to be Nike’s decision, and we’re not convinced there’s enough added value in a mid-level CUSA team to justify the cost.  Of course, bad publicity is still publicity, and there will probably be people somewhere out there that want to buy the shoes that MJ designed for his kid(s), so that’s another factor that the company may consider.  A final possibility is that Jordan could play in his bare feet, but that would probably reduce his height to 6’1.5 and his quickness by a factor of half. 
  • UK Lowballed Gillispie.  Word was released late last week that one reason Billy Gillispie pursued legal action against UK was because they lowballed him with an offer well below one year of his current salary and buyout ($925K).  Was there a single good decision involving Mitch Barnhart and Billy Gillispie over their two-year relationship?  Let’s recount:  1) hiring him (bad idea); 2) hiring him without a contract, instead relying on an MOU (worse idea); 3) hiring a driver for him and generally ignoring his extracurricular activities all over town (even worse idea); 4) firing him (ok, that was a good idea); 5) lowballing him with a $925k offer of settlement when he was owed $6M from the MOU agreement (horrible idea because it only pissed him off; a reasonable offer would have likely been accepted); 6) settling with him for $3.25M (anything ending this debacle now is a good idea).   
  • Preseason Stuff.  10 teams under the radar in 2009-10, Parrish’s top 10 point guards and top 10 wings, Goodman visits Notre Dame and Michigan State, Luke Winn’s 16 impact freshmen, and Seth Davis breaks down Cal.  The Big East media came out with its preseason awards here, and Zagsblog followed up with its preseason awards this week (Gody: POY; Oriakhi & Stevenson: ROY), but why aren’t Syracuse’s Wesley Johnson and Seton Hall’s Herb Pope (both made the all-Big East team) eligible for the “rookie” award?  Here’s the SEC’s, and it makes absolutely zero sense that John Wall was voted second for SEC POY but didn’t even make the all-SEC first team.  Florida #5 in the SEC East is just painful for Billy Donovan.  And once again, here’s Vegas Watch’s SEC preview, where we too came up with the conclusion that Florida is the fifth best team in that division.   
  • Quick HitsLarry Drew: the key to UNC’s repeat hopesKansas: moving forwardUCLA: facing a ‘rebuilding’ year in Westwood.  Memo to Dana O’Neil: It’s CORN HOLE not CORN TOSSButler & Purdue: seeking to play in their back yard next April.  Midnight Madness: a nice pictorial of several from CNNSI.  Jay Wright: talks about the Bataan Death March of Big East scheduling.  Illinois: back in the mix locally recruiting-wise.  Binghamton: freeze all records for investigation (h/t Carpy).  Rivalry: is UW-Gonzaga back on?  Memphis: makes a statement at Midnight MadnessIsaiah Thomas: yeah, that’s a 5’8 guyOne man’s bracket: not enough B10 teams, and JMU in the CAA?  Brady Morningstar: $500 and keep your nose clean for a year (at least Self suspended him for the semester).  Pitino: finally moving on?
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10.16.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 16th, 2009

The countdown clock is under 12 hours, and we’re all absolutely dripping with giddiness for real games in the next month…

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09.30.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2009

You know what tomorrow is, right?  Yeah, October.  Us too. 

  • Scare at Tennessee.   A very frightening story out of Knoxville earlier this week was that Vol sophomore forward Emmanuel Negedu collapsed while lifting weights on Monday and reportedly had to be revived by UT medical staff prior to his transport to the hospital.  He’s spent the last two nights there under watch, and doctors continue to perform tests on him to make sure that he’s not suffering from something deadly.  We all know the stories over the years, from Len Bias to Hank Gathers to Reggie Lewis, and these are always scary incidents.  RTC wishes Negedu the best of luck and wishes for a full recovery. 
  • Cleaning up at Binghamton...  Two ugly incidents put an early stain on the 2009-10 season, as we discussed in separate posts when they happened last week.  Both were stories capable of sending shock waves through college basketball this week, though, as Binghamton yesterday fired an adjunct lecturer who claimed in a NYT article last February that basketball players were receiving preferential treatment in the classroom (grade changing, independent study, and the like).  The Binghamton program is now in shambles on the court, but we continue to be shocked and amazed that Kevin Broadus, the recruiter of all the problem children who ended up dismissed (and arrested), is skating on this one.  Seriously, think about this - Binghamton cans the whistleblowing prof but not the coach who orchestrated the entire mess?  How is this possible?  Isn’t the SUNY chancellor now the same woman who stood on the library steps and shouted “no more” to the Cincinnati faithful when she 86ed Bob Huggins four years ago?  And yet she’s curiously silent (along with BU’s president, Lois B. DeFleur, for the most part).  Something’s not right here, and we figure there’s more to come.  If there is, we can rest assured the NYT’s Pete Thamel will figure it out.     EDITED TO ADD: Yep, the AD is gone, can Broadus be far behind?
  • …and Kansas.   Perhaps the uglier incident last week was the three fights between members of the KU basketball and football teams.  Much was written about how embarrassing this was to the university, the athletic department, the coaches and players involved, and Thursday’s public, formal apologies did little to defuse the PR hit that Bill Self’s program took last week.  The word is that players were fighting over (what else?) girls and rep, but KU football players shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that just because they’ve had a nice run in that program the last few years that Kansas will ever be anything but a basketball school.  The question now is what will Bill Self do to punish the guilty parties?  We already know that Tyshawn Taylor was involved due to his dislocated finger that’ll hold him out of workouts for around a month.  We also know that one of the Morris twins pushed a football player down the stairs, a very dangerous act of battery (this would be Markieff’s second, btw) that was mitigated by another player catching the falling player as he made his way downward.   News outlets all report that there were some other hoops players involved as well.  We think that, for the sake of his program, Bill Self has to take a very serious stand on this one.  You simply cannot have the players on a preseason #1 team running around campus fighting indiscriminately with players from the football team.  Not only can your own players get hurt, but with so many big bodies involved, run-of-the-mill students can also get hurt.  Luckily, that didn’t happen here, but Self needs to show that he’s totally in charge of his program.  Anything less than a several-game suspension for all of the players involved would reveal that early-season Ws are more important to him than discipline.  If it were us, we’d sit the Morris who threw the player down the stairs for ten games and the others for five each.  No questions asked.  If Kansas loses an early game or two versus Memphis and/or UCLA because of it, well, too bad.  The good will that Self engenders as a no-nonsense coach will provide far greater benefits over time in terms of recruiting and public reputation than it will by letting these players off easy.    
  • Non-BCS Schools Receive Harsher Penalties Than BCS Schools – No Way!!  This jewel made it into our inbox last week from the Orlando Sentinel.  The Michael Buckner Law Firm performed an analysis that showed that the average years of probation meted out to non-BCS programs was longer than those handed out to BCS programs over a 4+ year period in the late 2000s.  The average amount of probation time for a non-BCS program was 2.74 years versus 2.58 years for BCS programs.  There’s no accounting for whether the difference is simple error or actual bias, but what is more damning from this study is the finding that the HBCU schools (historically black colleges and universities) were given 3.83 years of probation versus the aforementioned 2.58 for BCS schools.  That seems a little ridiculous to us.  Of course, the NCAA predictably dismissed the study on statistical grounds, and we understand their complaint.  So here’s our suggestion to the NCAA: hire an independent researcher to examine your enforcement policies and practices for consistency and bias, and get back to us.  Something tells us we’ll be waiting on that for quite some time.
  • Quick HitsBlue Ribbontop 25 and all-americansJames Ischgood luck, sir.   Billy Clyde: offered a plea bargain in Ky.  Gary Williams: one-year extensionNolan Richardson: the descent continuesMVC Nonconf Schedulestremendous analysis.   Gonzaga:  are they reloading or rebuilding in Spokane?  Luke Winn: charting peaks and valleys of the offseason.  Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger: get to know themCvC: pushing for healthcare reform on Capitol Hill.  Goodman: top 20 backcourts and top 20 frontcourts AND his Big 12 previewTyler Smith: who will be the first person he follows on TwitterJim Crews: fired at Army after 7 years.  Herb Sendek: busily not gloating in TempeDemetrius Jemison: Bama forward out for the season with a ruptured Achilles.   Shocker: Derrick Rose says he took his own SATA Decade Ago: Harold “The Show” ArceneauxRay McCallum, Sr.: walking the fine line between parent and recruiter

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09.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2009

It was a very quiet weekend in college hoopsland, which is a good thing, because the RTC staff is working madly behind the scenes to get things together for the upcoming season.  You guys realize that we’re seven weeks to the day away from the first game, right (Nov. 9FIU @ UNC in the CvC)?

  • Jeff Goodman wrote a post on his blog last week that asked the question of which teams in 09-10 could be categorized as the deepest in college basketball.  He concluded that Big 12 stalwarts Kansas and Texas along with Kentucky are all bursting at the seams with nasty talent.  We have no dispute with him there – you’d have to be blind to state otherwise.  But after thinking about it a bit, we were left with the so-what question.  Having 10-12 players at your disposal doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you’re willing to use them, and we wondered what Self, Barnes and Calipari’s coaching history could tell us about just how important that depth will be for them this season.  Thanks to KenPom’s site, we did a quick analysis of how these coaches used their benches over the last three years (data was only available from 2007-09).  As you can see in the table below, the two Big 12 coaches are much more likely to ride their starters over the course of a season than Calipari will.  But none of them will often be accused of leading the way in bench usage.  Of course, if we had players like Kevin Durant, Brandon Rush, Derrick Rose and so forth at our disposal, we’d probably be hesitant to bring in their backup also.
  • reserve minutes 07-09
  • Luke Winn broke down his top ten nonconference schedules last week (among the good teams), and we really don’t have much else to say about his analysis, which is spot-on as usual.  Calling out Big East teams Pitt and Syracuse was great, especially since we all know that they’ll use the excuse of being young this year (true), even though they always pull this never-leave-home stuff in the preconference slate (also true).  We also noticed another oddity in Winn’s “Major Generosity” section, where he points out that UNC, Georgetown and Michigan St. will visit such titans as Charleston, Savannah St. and The Citadel, respectively, this season.  Strangely enough, these three homestanding schools are within about a two-hour drive of each other.  A weird confluence of luck , friendships and payback games means that the Low Country will be privileged to host three of the best teams in the nation on their turf within a six-week period starting November 21.  If you live around there, get your tickets now – this will probably never happen again!  Oh, and back at ya, Luke.
  • Quick HitsBilal Batley: yeah, this was itThe Jewish Jordan: retires at 27Greg Monroe: ready to forget about last seasonGene Iba: one more season for Hank’s nephew.  Freshmen in 09-10: seems eminently reasonableArkansas Gangbang: someone will be punished for somethingThe New Myles BrandMichael AdamsJunior Cadougan:  Marquette’s presumed starting PG out for the seasonTruck Bryant: was there ever a questionJosh Tabb:  Tennessee guard suspended indefinitely.
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09.14.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2009

In the last week or so, we’ve noticed that the days are distinctly shorter than they were, which means only one thing…  darkness.

  • What, no Matt Doherty?  Carolina celebrated its 100 years of basketball with a blowout extravaganza two Fridays ago featuring such UNC luminaries as Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Phil Ford, Larry Brown, Antawn Jamison, George Karl, Julius Peppers and a bunch of other dignitaries, both past and present.  The tribute video they presented at the beginning of the evening should be mandatory viewing for every recruit that steps into Chapel Hill (sidenote: 2010 #1 Harrison Barnes and several others were there), but the featured event was the scrimmage, nicknamed the “Professional Alumni Game,” where the White team (starters: Raymond Felton, Brendan Haywood, Marvin Williams, Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse) defeated the Blue team (Vince Carter, Jawad Williams, Dante Calabria, Sean May and Ed Cota) 113-92.  It sounds great and all, but it was the trotting out of that old Carolina/Dean Smith warhorse, the Four Corners offense, that just about made this writer puke.  Let’s sully one of the greatest collections of collegiate talent ever put together in a single place at a single time by reminiscing and celebrating one of the biggest abominations the game has ever witnessed.  For you youngsters, the 4C was largely responsible for the implementation of the 45-second shot clock in the mid-80s, and is widely ridiculed as one of the worst inventions of the modern game.  Bad, bad idea, Heels.  As another sidenote to this Carolina joyfest, did anyone else feel that MJ’s acceptance speech at the HOF induction last weekend was completely petty and mean-spirited?  From our cheap seats, it appears that more than one Jordan Myth was defused this weekend (h/t TBL).
  • Memphis Appeals.  Last week Memphis sent its timely notice of appeal to the NCAA based on the Derrick Rose Scandal, arguing that the Tigers’ 38 wins and NCAA Tournament runner-up appearance from 2007-08 should not be removed from the history books.  Among the findings that led to the penalties, the only one that Memphis is appealing is the violation involving Derrick Rose’s SAT score.  This is presumably because it is also the most difficult one to prove (cf. with Memphis getting cold-busted for providing illicit airfare and hotels to Reggie Rose).  The school, now represented by “NCAA defender to the stars” Mike Glazier, has thirty days to present its arguments to the NCAA Infractions Committee, and their argument is going to undoubtedly hinge on the seeming inconsistency of Derrick Rose being cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse prior to his freshman season only to be later deemed ineligible after the fact.  Sadly for Memphis, in this case and in the real world, what is an apparent inconsistency is incongruent with the fact that the justice system (and the NCAA) doesn’t work like that.  The bottom line is this: so long as the Clearinghouse made a good faith effort to determine the basis for Rose’s initial eligibility (and we presume it did), the revelation of later evidence indicting Rose’s SAT provenance has no bearing on the initial assessment.  The NCAA had no basis to believe that Rose had cheated on his SATs until the allegations surfaced after his freshman year.  The real-world analogy would be if the police did a cursory investigation of someone related to a crime and found no evidence to initially support their involvement, only to receive credible information a year later that the person investigated might have indeed committed the crime.  Rose was no more “cleared” than any of us are - there is no ”get-out-of-jail-free” card that we can present in perpetuity; if additional information comes to light, it is entirely reasonable for conditions to change in response.  Furthermore, the fact that Rose then ignored three letters from ETS (who administers the SAT) questioning his score, and two other letters from the NCAA requesting an interview, does not help his case.  Unless he plans on showing up to the NCAA hearing on Memphis’ behalf with evidence to the contrary (LOLable), we’re afraid that Memphis is going to be forced to eat those 38 wins and the $600K they stand to lose here.  Maybe Josh Pastner could simply request that Rose write him a check?
  • Back To Renardo Sidney.  The NCAA stated last Friday that Mississippi St.’s Renardo Sidney is not certified to play this season because his family did not turn over the financial documentation that they requested as part of the investigation into how the Sidneys afforded to live in high-end homes in the LA area.  Or as they put it, Sidney is “not certified due to non response.”  The NCAA went on to say that if or when the Sidneys send the information requested (and not a stack of random papers they found in someone’s locker), then his certification will be re-evaluated.  What does all this mean?  Basically, the NCAA doesn’t want to get caught with its pants down again, as in the cases of OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose where they certified players as initially eligible only to watch as those same players danced on the NCAA Clearinghouse’s grave en route to the NBA.  Sidney’s attorney is threatening lawsuit, and we suspect that his argument “that the Sidney family has to establish the existence of non-violations” probably has some merit, but none of this may matter given we’re only two months from the first games and the justice system moves slower than molasses.  It’s unlikely that MSU will risk playing Sidney while the wheels of justice are turning simply because they don’t want a Rose giveback of all the Ws they’re anticipating this season.
  • Vegas Watch: Big Ten.  VW got his third installment of the major conference previews up today, and once again we were invited along for the peep show.  What’s interesting about the Big Ten ratings is that we all pretty much agreed that Purdue is the best team in the conference in 09-10, but (at least for our money) Michigan St. is the team more likely to do damage in the NCAA Tournament.  Another good exercise, and the league is looking at being way up – up to seven solid NCAA bids this season.  For the ACC and Big 12 ratings and discussion, see these posts.
  • Quick HitsSlam Magazine: finished its Top 25.  Arizona St.: more than just Harden and PendergraphParrish: why Butler is no Boise.   Goodman: 25 players you should know for 09-10, and his all-americans (John Wall for POY = bold).  Incredible Shrinking Center: Memphis’ Pierre Henderson-NilesJim Griffin: RIPJohn Pelphrey at Arkansas: agreedSeton Hall: extends Bobby Gonzalez to 2015Florida St.: haven’t we heard this song before?  Travis Ford: wow, how do you get a 10-year extension after one year on the job?  Larry Eustachy: Gillispie has a diseaseFreshmen: here’s the top 20 for 09-10Memphis: down to 8 scholarship playersBlue Ribbon: go ahead and order it.
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09.03.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 3rd, 2009

On the eve of college football’s start…  let’s get caught up on the news and notes from the last week in roundball.

  • Preaching to the Choir.  Gary Parrish wrote an article that was ostensibly about the A10′s financially-motivated decision to move from its ancestral home of Philadelphia to its Sun Belt environs of Newport News, Virginia, but morphed into a scathing critique of the rapidly increasing revenue gap between the power conferences and the mid-majors.  We liken this a little bit to what has happened in major league baseball over the past twenty years or so.  It’s not an issue of there once being equality where now there is none; it’s more an issue of relative inequality being much larger than it ever has been (and only increasing).  The Yankees and other major market franchises in MLB always had more money to spend on players, marketing, etc., and were summarily rewarded with larger media deals and ticket prices.  This is similarly true for the power conferences in football and basketball.  But in the modern era of 100-million dollar contracts for baseball players and billion-dollar contracts for media rights, what we’re witnessing is an acceleration of the revenue gap between large and small to a future point that is completely unsustainable.  As an example of the disparity, the $2.2B television contract that the SEC has with ESPN is probably worth more than the contracts of every mid-major league in existence has ever had, combined.  Seriously.  As Parrish points out, this sort of exposure leads to recruits, and the cycle starts all over again.  We’re really uncertain as to how the NCAA plans to deal with this over the next decade, but if we know anything about the entity at all, we’re betting that they’ll be completely behind the curve when something happens.        
  • Vegas Watch: Big 12 PreviewWe mentioned this in a previous FBs, but Vegas Watch is leading an exercise previewing each of the six BCS conferences using last year’s Pomeroy rankings, this year’s incoming recruits, and the sharp eye of his respected cronies (Money Line Journal and Sports Investments).  He invited RTC along for the ride this time around, and we tried to provide some value where we could.  Keep an eye out for the remaining installments over the next several weeks.  (note: not even a regression analysis is needed to determine KU is #1 in the Big 12)
  • Get Creative, SEC Schools.  Look, it’s not every year that a player named Nimrod Tishman comes into your league as a freshman, assuming that the NCAA clears his amateur status in the next few weeks.  But Billy Donovan’s Florida Gators picked up the 6’6 Israeli to replace Nick Calathes and you should expect to see his curious name all over the place next season.   So here’s our request of the other 11 SEC schools – get creative.  Come up with some really clever signs and chants for when Florida visits your house this winter.  If we hear a school derisively chanting his first name with no further thought or effort put into it, we’re going to be extremely disappointed.  Come on, UK and UT fans, we know you’ve got something up your sleeves – an opportunity like this only comes around once a decade. 
  • SI’s 25 Things We Miss in Basketball.  This wasn’t exclusively a list of college basketball memories, but the ones chosen by Grant Wahl, Seth Davis and others were exceptional.  It’s not every day we can honestly say we learned something completely new about the modern era of CBB, but the piece about Bo Ellis designing Marquette’s national title year “untucked” jerseys indeed was (image here).  It was so ugly that the NCAA banned it a few years later.  We also enjoyed the pieces on great team nicknames, Len Bias and the SEC in the 80s.  Give it a read.  You won’t regret it.
  • Closing Out Pitino/Sypher.    An awful lot of bandwidth was used writing about the Pitino/Sypher Scandal, and presumably there’s more to this story coming down the road.  But the best piece we read last week was this one on CNNSI by Pablo Torre, who attempts to describe Pitino’s inner circle and how intertwined they all are.  The worst one was this abomination by Jason WhitlockThen there was this hard-hitting interview from WLKY in Louisville… 
  • Comings and GoingsJ’Covan Brown was cleared to play at Texas this season.  Ditto with Mississippi St.’s John Riek, who will sit out the first nine games of the season over extra benefits.  Pitt’s Gilbert Brown, on the other hand, will be sitting out the fall semester due to academic troubles.  South Carolina picked up a heckuva transfer in walk-on Malik Cooke, who averaged 9/5 for Nevada last season.  Darryl “Truck” Bryant’s legal troubles don’t appear to be too burdensome – he’ll face no jail time after leaving the scene of an accident and striking a WVU student with his vehicle in separate incidents this summer.  What’s that get you under Huggins?  A one-game suspension?  Finally, in the let’s-keep-our-fingers-crossed dept., BYU’s Dave Rose got a clean bill of health after his pancreatic cancer surgery earlier this summer.  He’s hopeful that he’ll be back on the court this season (his next scan is in two weeks).
  • Quick HitsJohn Wooden: On death, penises and politicsCalipari: disappointed in Memphis penaltiesNCAA Selective Enforcement: we need as many people writing as many articles about these inconsistencies as possible.  Tom Crean: Marquette HOFerKevin Stallings: forgoes $100k raise for team trip Down UnderGreg Paulusstarting QB at CuseGoodmanimpact transfers for 09-10.  Patrick Christopher: the new JJ RedickEric Bledsoe: better than WallScout: summer all-americans and class of 2011 rankings.   Delaware: looks like NFL parlays or nothing at all, folks.  Arizona: can the Cats scratch their way to 26 in a rowBilly Clyde: the least hirable coach in America?  FIU: caves, will play UNC after all.  Jarvis Varnado: heading home, but what caused his sudden illness?  Ed Davender: ticket scammerBBall Prospectus: careful slurping that class of 09 just yet…  Nebraska: inventing new ways to hold scholarship playersTeddy Dupay: 30 days in jailNCAA Ethics: John Beilein is the head man, and here’s what coaches want to seeBank Robber Recruit: Anthony DiLoreto signs with Utah St. 
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08.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2009

It has been a loooooong week around these parts, but now that we’ve crowned a Team of the 2000s, let’s move on to some other goings-on and nuggets of news floating around the college hoops world…

  • Comings and Goings.  There have been a few announcements of players who are out for the upcoming semester as we’re heading into fall matriculation.  The most notable are Villanova wing Reggie Redding and Florida big men Eloy Vargas and Adam Allen.  Redding was suspended by the university arising out of an incident where marijuana was allegedly found in his car at an accident, but he is expected to return for the spring semester.  Allen recently had surgery for a stress fracture and Vargas is academically ineligible for the fall semester.  Although neither were major contributors for Florida in 08-09, they were expected to provide depth in the frontcourt this season.  On the flip side, former Dookie Elliot Williams received his waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to suit up immediately for his hometown Memphis Tigers this season. 
  • 2009 NIT Bracket.  The pairings were announced a week ago, but we’re just now getting around to analyzing it.  They’ve seeded the top four teams by region (#1 Duke, #2 UConn, #3 LSU, and #4 Arizona St) in a solid, if not spectacular, field.  But did anyone else notice that they mismatched the seedings?  Take a closer look at the thumbnail below.  If the top eight seeds win their first game, then we should be left with pairings of 1/8, 2/7, 3/6 and 4/5, right?  In this NIT bracket, #1 Duke would play #8 Charlotte, so that’s ok; but, #2 UConn would play #6 Hofstra, #3 LSU would play #5 WKU, and #4 Arizona St. would play #7 TCU.  What’s the point of this?  If you’re going to take the time to seed teams by expectation, you should probably do it properly rather than trying to slot teams based on regional travel convenience.  Sigh…   For what it’s worth, Duke seems to always win this thing, but depending on how quickly replacement players develop on the other top seeds, any of the others could surprise.

2009 NIT Brackets

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08.11.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 11th, 2009

With the rate of news coming out these days, this’ll feel a little more like slow breaks…

  • Academic Headstart.  This got almost no play over the weekend, but it should have because it has the smell of something that ends up being more important than anyone previously thought.  The NCAA Basketball Academic Enhancement Group (chaired by Derrick Rose?) recommended a requirement that each school should make an academic assessment of its incoming freshmen each season to determine whether the student-athlete is adequately prepared for college-level schoolwork.  If they are not (presumably using some objective measure other than the Jim Harrick, Jr., test), then they’ll be required to take six hours of classes over the summer (‘bridge’ summer coursework data shows a higher incidence of long-term academic success).  The big carrot is that, while they’re in summer school (and all players can attend if they like), they can work out for up to eight hours/week in athletic activities.  The catch, however, is that they must pass at least three of those hours to gain eligibility for the fall semester.  Should this recommendation come to pass (and it probably will), each school will have to balance a  fine line between the player assessment and player eligibility.  God forbid that the next Michael Beasley gets his high school grades and test scores in order, shows up at his school amidst great fanfare, only to fail college algebra over the summer and have to sit until December because the coach wanted those eight hours per week of court time.  It’s an interesting dilemma and it imposes a certain level of accountability on the schools themselves to take the academic side of things more seriously, which is a good thing.  Props to the NCAA for getting creative here. 
  • Vegas Watch ACC Preview.  We’ll be sure to come back to this when we put up our conference previews later this fall, but we wanted to make sure that you guys alll have a chance to read the first installment in a really innovative series of posts breaking down each of the BCS conferences.  VW ran several regressions on the last three seasons to determine a fairly accurate predictor for future success using Pomeroy ratings, returning minutes and production and incoming recruiting rankings.  Looking at the projected 2010 rankings, it appears that those riding the Terrapin bandwagon have reason to believe, as Maryland is projected third, while those of us who were high on Georgia Tech (even prior to losing K. Holsey) may want to re-think that a little bit before October.  Keep an eye on this series because it’s fascinating stuff. 
  • Deron Washington Hurdles into Eternity.  If, for some reason, you haven’t seen what Virginia Tech has done with its new practice facility yet…  It’s really too bad that Syracuse football doesn’t play Virginia Tech this year, or Paulus would have a fair opportunity to exact some revenge (he’s the third-string QB for the Orange as of this week). 

deron washington over paulus

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08.04.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 4th, 2009

News has slowed to a barely discernible trickle, but we here at RTC have a few things coming down the pike, so stay tuned…

  • Renardo Sidney Saga.  So… the NCAA gumshoes had their meeting with the Sidney family last week, if you haven’t heard, and they’re asking for tax returns.  Most everyone in basketball believes that the Sidney family is dirtier than Roberto Alomar’s toilet seat, but they are entitled to a reasonable right to privacy with respect to their bank records and such.  Of course, the Sidney family has lawyered up and their representative, Donald Jackson, has already burned his race card lifeline in efforts to resist the NCAA request.  (ed. note: if that’s his only strategy, the Sidneys may want to look into alternative representation)  The problem with this whole situation is that the Sidneys appear willing to turn this into a high-profile civil lawsuit and, according to Gary Parrish, the NCAA would like to avoid that particular boondoggle at all costs.  Apparently the NCAA doesn’t want to have to defend its practices of selective enforcement, and we don’t blame them in the least on that.  So how will this end?  Probably the only way the NCAA knows how to deal with these cases – slap a relatively minor suspension (8-10 games) on Sidney, thereby leaving him eligible at Mississippi St. for the meat of the regular season and the postseason in 2009-10.  MSU is happy, the Sidneys are happy, and the NCAA crawls back to its lair once again with its tail tucked squarely between its legs, waiting on the next Andrelei Dravovic to declare ineligible. 
  • D1 Athletic Revenue.  The Orlando Sentinel has been doing an analysis of college athletics and the recession, and they came up with an interesting list of all D1-A schools ranked by athletic revenue.  It’s no secret that football continues to drive revenue, as Kansas is the only basketball school in the top twelve of the list.  Still, of that same top twelve,  nine schools have shown a serious commitment to basketball and it’s probably no coincidence that the revenue derived from both major sports is putting them at the top of this list (Penn St., Auburn and Alabama need to get with it).  Our only problem with these lists is that they never break things down further by individual sports so we can actually see how much money, for example, the Florida basketball program generates! 
  • Maui Invitational Matchups.  In one of the weakest Maui Invitational brackets we’ve seen in years, the following matchups are scheduled for early Thanksgiving week in beautiful Lahaina, Hawaii.  
    • Chaminade vs. Maryland
    • Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt
    • Colorado vs. Gonzaga
    • Arizona vs. Wisconsin 
  • We’ll take Maryland vs. Cincy in one semifinal and Gonzaga vs. Wisconsin in the other, with the Terps and Badgers meeting in the finals.  Although we think Maryland has better talent, we’ll go with UW to win its first Maui title in the mild upset on the islands.
  • Quick HitsFab Melo: going to SyracuseETSU: RIP, Seth CoyIsiah Thomas: on the recruiting trailTwo-and-Done: gaining tractionCoach K: firing up the Olympic trial poolGoodman: 10 things he learned in July.  Jordan Crawford: more than a dunk over Lebron.   Parrish: why July evaluation camps need to stayVegas Watchthis could be very interesting. 
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07.29.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 29th, 2009

Things were VERY quiet over the weekend, but as always, RTC brings you the hostess with the mostess…

  • Summer Hypocrisy Trail.  We spend a lot of time around here criticizing the NCAA, its administrators, coaches and enablers for their acute sense of self-serving righteousness mixed with hypocrisy as it relates to their various policies of doing business.  A couple of stories caught our eye to this effect over the past few days.  The first was Pete Thamel’s NYT piece exposing how summer camp organizers are charging exorbitant fees to coaches for the privilege of watching its players in the stands (along with a fancy-schmancy binder of player names and hometowns, whoop-de-damn-do).  Prices range from $175-$350, depending on the locale, but coaches are uniformly annoyed with such a major additional expense to their recruiting budgets.  Vandy’s Kevin Stallings has taken the lead on criticizing the practice (he refused to pay the fee at a Memphis camp, turning around and driving back home), but predictably, those coaches who get their bread buttered by virtue of cozy relationships with the camp organizers (K, Howland, Matta, etc.) will not speak out publicly about this trend.  And as Dana O’Neil showed in her article about a coach’s banquet in Las Vegas put on by camp organizers, there’s often very little accountability with respect to where all these fee dollars are flowing.  Organizers make claims about funding AAU trips, tournaments and “feeding their families,” but as we’ve seen with allegations involving Renardo Sidney and others, the paper trail on where money ends up is often ambiguous and fraught with obfuscation.  Of course, none of this should surprise you or us – the system is so completely dirty at the AAU level that we truly wonder if the NCAA will ever succeed in rooting it out.  The genie is already out of the bottle, and for every World Wide Wes out there, a hundred others are gunning to take his place.  Mike DeCourcy, for what it’s worth, thinks that the coaches should just STFU, and he’s probably right.  Still it doesn’t change the fact that, without regulation of these camps, nobody except the organizers really know what these dollars are being used for.  
  • Summer of Lawsuits.  An odd lawsuit has arisen over a clause in a head coach’s former contract that unequivocally states that he may not continue to recruit players he was recruiting at his old school if he leaves for a new school.  Matt Brady, the second-year head coach at James Madison and formerly at Marist, was sued by Marist for violating what many people suggest is an unenforceable clause that they’ve never seen employed elsewhere.  Creative contract negotiations or willful ignorance of the law?  Regardless, four players whom Brady was recruiting at Marist – Julius Wells, Devon Moore, Andrey Semenov and Trevon Flores – ended up at JMU instead last season, although only Wells had signed a national letter of intent (which Marist released him from).  Of course, the key issue that the NY state court will consider is whether there is an obligation on the part of the coach over third parties (the recruits); we can’t imagine that the long arm of any contract would suggest such a thing, but we’re not lawyers, we just play them on tv. 
  • UNC Title Tilt.  If you’re of the opinion that the 2005 NCAA Champion UNC squad would mop the floor with the 2009 NCAA Champion NCAA squad, as we are, then you’ll have an opportunity to see players from those two teams settle the debate at the UNC Pro Alumni Game on September 4 at the Dean Dome.  Nine players from the ’05 team - Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants, Byron Sanders, Reyshawn Terry, Jackie Manuel, Quentin Thomas, Marvin Williams and Jawad Williams – are scheduled to appear, along with six players from last year’s champs – Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Bobby Frasor and Michael Copeland.  The scrimmage will allow for ad hoc division of rosters, and we’d expect to see several possessions where the starting lineups for each team are on the floor facing off against each other.  For the record, if the two teams actually were to play at full strength, the frontline of May and M. Williams would dominate the Hansbrough/D. Thompson side, especially with the superior playmaker Felton (over Lawson) distributing the ball.  The 2005 Heels weren’t as dominant in the NCAAs as the 2009 version, in part due to a lack of experience, but the talent on that team was far better. 
  • Quick Hits2012 Olympic team: projecting a rosterBen Howland: on noticeBob Knight: teacher, leader, comedianKatz: stock watch for 2010 prospectsLebron Tape: what was it worthFlorida St.: fine, you pay our legal fees thenBig Monday: Big 12 ScheduleCanadian Elite Hoops: doing great, until thisFather/Son Recruiting: play for dad or UCLAIsiah: checking in on him at FIU.
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07.23.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 23rd, 2009

It’s actually been a fairly busy week in the world of college hoops despite the mid-summer lull, so let’s take a look at some of the other key stories coming down the pike…

  • Hoop Dreams, 15 Years Later.  This week in his Hoops Thoughts column, Seth Davis pushed us down memory lane to the grungy days of 1994, a year of Cobain, Madonna’s undies and OJ’s white Bronco, but also of a bedraggled jewel of a documentary called “Hoop Dreams.”  We have a fair amount of younger readers on this site, so if you’ve never seen this movie, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW, and rent it on Netflix or your local movie shop.  It is without question the best basketball film ever made.  Davis’ summary of the movie is good so we won’t belabor that here, but even fifteen years later, the movie holds its color, bouquet and taste much better than most items from that era.  We slightly quibble with Davis on his contention that HD was the first reality tv (The Real World says hello) or that the two players featured in the film, William Gates and Arthur Agee, were ordinary people (their extraordinary skills at basketball at a young age is what made them not ordinary), but we completely agree with his fundamental assessment that the authenticity behind these two players’ struggles still resonates today.  The early 90s, when Gates and Agee were documented in the film, was an era at the edge of a precipice in two key cultural shifts that are still impacting the game: 1) the worldwide online revolution of 1995, which has impacted scouting and recruiting in an exponential fashion now that players can be commodified based on Youtube clips and independent assessments from anywhere on the globe; and 2) Kevin Garnett’s decision to go to the NBA straight out of HS in 1995 led to a sea change in how high school players were viewed, pushing scouting (and dreams of riches) earlier and earlier into a player’s development.  From a re-viewing of the movie in 2009, it’s easy to see the seeds of World Wide Wes and his ilk as assembly-line talent evaluator-cum-agents strategically dropping their whispers of fame and fortune into player family’s ears at a young age.  What was once limited to the bigger cities and at a much smaller scale is now ubiquitous; where elite players were once counseled by their coach (as in, their HS coach, not their AAU coach), they now listen to runners and quasi-representatives from shoe companies.  All of the dirty elements that are plaguing today’s amateur player development and the college game are there on display, in a rawer, more transparent form, in Hoop Dreams.  The authenticity of how the system uses these players, only to spit them out when they’re no longer useful, is front and center – how have things changed?  Thanks to Seth for re-awakening everyone to this movie – it’s a must-see.     
  • SEC-TV.  Starting this fall, the SEC announced that it will broadcast an all-SEC sports network as part of its new $2.25B deal with ESPN.  The SEC Network (through ESPN Regional) will syndicate its college football and basketball games to 73 (and counting) markets, but what makes this announcement particularly compelling is how the SEC has strategically decided to move outside its traditional nine-state southeastern footprint for this deal.  Local affiliates in the major markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as the three major Texas cities, are included in this deal, which unequivocally shows that the SEC isn’t playing games in terms of its foray to dominate college sports through national recruiting.  Where this could really pay dividends is not with the Kentuckys and Floridas, but with the Mississippi States and the Georgias of the SEC.  If games involving those teams are on tv in major media markets showing recruits a fun, winning style, they might be more inclined to consider going there over local state U.  How will the other leagues react?
  • F the Gazelle Group.  They’re back again this season with another faux-tournament in the form of the Legends Classic.  Remember our piece shredding them on this last year?  If you don’t, here’s a refresher.  The Gazelle Group got upset when little Gardner-Webb upset Kentucky in Rupp two years ago during a preliminary round game, meaning that the legions of UK fans they expected to buy tickets the next week weren’t showing.  So what’d they do the next year – they fixed the tournament!  Yep, all four of the ‘host’ teams get automatic entry to the Championship Rounds (final four teams) despite what happens in the prelims.  Total asinine garbage.  This year’s four faux-champs?  Michigan St., Rutgers, Florida and UMass.  MSU-Florida could be interesting, and definitely keep an eye on summer hotshot Mike Rosario from Joisey (playing in AC). 
  • Quick Hits.  Anthony Mason, Jr.: back in a Johnnies uni for 09-10.  Jim Calhoun: still going full boreJosh Selby/World Wide Wes: that’s just messed upWooden Classic: Georgetown v. Washington; UCLA v. Mississippi St.  Coach K: are Duke fans mad atchaMurray Bartow: 2-year extension at ETSU.  Dickie V: Summer Rolls-RoycersTop 25 Recruits: broken downGary Parrish: on the summer circuitSix OTs: enjoyAntonio Burks: recovering after robbery where he was shot.  Centenary: downgrading to D3WCC Tourney: in Vegas through 2012 (at least).  2010 Vegas Odds: sell Louisville
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