Is there a worse time of year for roundball fans than July/August? Well, is there? Let’s see what’s been cooking over the last week or so…
- Economics, NCAA Style. Have you guys heard that we’re in a recession – that the economy may not exactly be whirring along at a blistering pace? Inevitably, college athletic departments are starting to feel the crunch nearly as much as your local Citibastard – some are cutting expenses such as chartered flights and media guides, while even the venerable and uber-rich Stanford athletic department is cutting employees. Meanwhile, schools such as UCLA, Cal, and others are instituting high-dollar seat licensing fees (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) to finance their stadium renovations and attend their games for the next quarter-century. Crisis is another word for opportunity, and we’re wondering if the current economic climate will only provide leverage for the NCAA haves (Florida, Texas, Ohio St., UCLA, etc.) to exploit and exacerbate the widening gap between themselves and the have-nots by using private equity as the hammer. The NCAA ADs have given lip service to construct a more equitable model of competition for its member institutions, but like the Yankees/Red Sox freight train in MLB, the arms race inertia is already accelerating downhill and moving too quickly to be stopped. The final solution may ultimately have to be a separation of BCS schools from the remainder of D1, and to get there, you have to pay to play.
- 2009 ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Last year we had very high hopes that the Big Ten would finally get off the mat and win one of these challenges. Alas, MSU took its first of two emasculations at the hands of UNC last year in Ford Field, and the Midwesterners lost 6-5. This year’s schedule is out, and unfortunately for the Big Ten, our first glance reveals that the odds are significantly in the ACC’s favor to win this event again. The Monday and Tuesday night games (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) favor home teams Virginia, NC State, UNC, Purdue and Iowa, but we’d expect the ACC to break serve by Maryland winning in Bloomington for an early 4-2 lead. Even with a Dec. 2 slate that favors the Big Ten, with Michigan and OSU holding serve at home to match Clemson, we’d expect Minnesota to get a road win at Miami (FL) only for the league to fall on its face again when Duke does what it does and rips Wisconsin a new one in the Kohl Center. The ACC wins again, 6-5. We have it coming down to three road winners, with the ACC taking two of them (Maryland and Duke). How do you see it?
- UConn Savior? This was quiet over the weekend but we find it to be a significant piece of news out of the UConn program, which is that the oft-confounding Ater Majok has committed that he will indeed play for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies next season. Majok’s eligibility has been a wild ride for UConn faithful, beginning a year-plus ago with his verbal commitment and two semesters of classwork in Storrs, only to be followed by a flirtation with the NBA Draft (withdrawing) and lucrative professional options overseas. The versatile 6’10 forward will help Calhoun shore up a somewhat inexperienced frontcourt led by returnees Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards, and if the reports of his potential are true, could provide an offensive force on the blocks to relieve some of the pressure from the very talented perimeter tandem of Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson. Major good news for the UConn program, which has taken its share of hits the past few months.
- Quick Hits. Noel Johnson: the former USC recruit will end up at Clemson. Dave Bliss: resurfaces in Texas (not coaching, thank God). Karen Sypher: no merit to her complaint against Pitino. Tark the Shark: his spinal surgery delayed. Keno Davis: extended through 2016. Al-Farouq Aminu: looking to dominate in 2009-10. Larry Sanders: thinking first round next season. Renardo Sidney: Part 1 of the NCAA inquiry. Lance Stephenson: much ado about disorderly conduct. Jared Sullinger: another in a run of Buckeye bigs. Harrison Barnes: get used to that name. Michael Gilchrist: another World Wide Wes guy with no chance at a childhood? Seth Davis: analyzes the top players on the summer recruiting circuit. South Carolina: in violation of impermissible snackage.