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Kaylon Williams Arrested After Trying To Run From DUI Arrest

One of the lessons that most people learn fairly early in life is that sometimes it is just better to take your punishment rather than trying to run from it. It appears that Kaylon Williams, the starting point guard at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, has not learned that yet (at least not as of this morning). Williams, a transfer from Evansville, who averaged 8.3 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 5.4 APG (1st in the conference) in his first season in Milwaukee while leading the Panthers to a three-way split of the Horizon League regular season title and a runner-up appearance in the conference tournament to Butler, was arrested on a drunken driving charge at 1:40 AM in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Unfortunately, the UWM administration wishes it was that simple.

Lesson: You can't run from the law

After initially being stopped for not having a front license plate, Williams reportedly drove off swerving in and out of the grass before getting out of the car, which was not put in park, and then tried to run away. Williams was initially able to lose the police, but a K-9 unit dog was able to find Williams and tackle him. Williams, who had a blood-alcohol level of 0.228 (nearly three times the legal limit in Iowa), was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated, attempting to elude and interfere with official acts (running from the cops), driving without a valid driver’s license, violating his driver’s permit regulations, and driving without insurance. After he was finally apprehended, Williams was taken to a county jail (no word on what the bail situation is). While Williams has not released a statement, his coach, Rob Jeter, has. In a statement from UWM, Jeter said, “We are aware of the situation involving Kaylon Williams. We are disappointed and will take appropriate action as we gather more information and the legal process runs its course.”

We have seen enough athletes get in trouble with the law to know that this is the standard response from school officials (you could probably find the exact wording in several other recent press releases), but you have to assume that Jeter and the school’s administration will come down pretty hard on Williams. Outside of the obvious embarrassment of the DUI arrest, the way that Williams handled it will make him and the program a joke around basketball circles for at least the next few weeks. Jeter probably will not throw Williams off the team, but at the very least Williams should be looking at a very long suspension along with whatever community service and jail time he has coming.

Eglseder Suspended Three Games for DUI

Northern Iowa big man Jordan Eglseder has been suspended for three games as a result of his arrest in the early hours of Sunday morning for drunk driving.

According to a report at DesMoinesRegister.com, Panthers coach Ben Jacobson announced the suspension and his disappointment with Eglseder’s actions.  Eglseder himself released a statement noting, “I made a regretful decision last night,” and apologized to UNI basketball fans and indeed the entire university.

Not that there’s any good time for this kind of thing, but it’s especially bad for UNI right now.  They suffered their third loss of the season yesterday, a 68-59 defeat at the hands of Bradley, and are trying to build some momentum heading into the Missouri Valley conference tournament and the NCAA.  The Panthers have been to the NCAA Tournament five times, including last year’s 61-56 loss to Purdue in the first round as a 12-seed.  Their only victory came as a 14-seed in 1990, a 74-71 first round victory over Missouri, and have a very good chance of adding to that this year.  Eglseder leads UNI in rebounding at 7.6 RPG, is their second-leading scorer at 12.2 PPG, and is statistically the Panthers’ most efficient player.

Eglseder will miss home games against Creighton and Old Dominion, and a road trip to Evansville.  He should be back for the final regular season home game of his career on February 27th against Illinois State.

Aside from Eglseder, the only true center on the team is 6’10 redshirt freshman Austin Pehl, who has only appeared in five games for an average of 1.6 minutes.  Then it’s another freshman, 6’9 forward Jake Koch (2.1 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 11.6 MPG, played in all 25 games this year), the brother of senior Adam Koch, UNI’s leading scorer.  The Panthers will rely on both Koch brothers, as well as junior forwards Lucas O’Rear and Kerwin Dunham, for a few more minutes and a little more production in Eglseder’s absence; this is not a new concept for UNI, as Eglseder averages only about 22 minutes per game.

Mountain West Superlatives and Tournament Preview

With the Mountain West Tournament tipping off today in Las Vegas, let’s get warmed up by offering our season superlatives and previewing what to expect this week in the desert.

Player of the Year

Derrick Marks, Senior, Boise State – Marks averaged better than 20 points per night in conference play, leading his Broncos to their first-ever Mountain West regular season title despite the loss of co-pilot Anthony Drmic prior to conference play. Turning into a prolific and efficient three-point threat in his senior campaign, Marks was not only the conference’s top scorer, but he did a little of everything for the Broncos — turning up his game defensively; acting as a valuable conduit for the team’s offense; performing as a locker room leader.

Derrick Marks' Game Blew Up In His Senior Year (AP Photo)

Derrick Marks’ Game Blew Up In His Senior Year (AP Photo)

All-Mountain West

First Team

  • G Derrick Marks, Sr, Boise State (19.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 3.0 APG, 1.9 SPG) – If you’re Player of the Year, you’re on the all-conference team, right?
  • G Marvelle Harris, Jr, Fresno State (16.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 3.8 RPG, 2.1 SPG) – Playing away from the spotlight in the California’s Central Valley, Harris was a versatile scorer for the Bulldogs.
  • F J.J. Avila, Sr, Colorado State (16.9 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 2.0 SPG, 57.5 eFG%) – The Rams’ leader in the frontcourt, a physical interior threat with a surprising skill set.
  • F Larry Nance Jr., Sr, Wyoming (16.1 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.2 BPG, 1.3 SPG, 53.4 eFG%) – For the second straight season, midseason health problems cost the versatile Cowboy a run at conference POY.
  • F Christian Wood, So, UNLV (15.2 PPG, 10.1 RPG, 2.8 BPG) – Eighteen double-doubles and an enhanced offensive game earn Wood a first-team spot despite a lack of team success.

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Morning Five: 01.29.15 Edition

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  1. Any hopes that Washington had of making the NCAA Tournament this year disappeared over the weeekend when they announced that they had dismissed Robert Upshaw for an unspecified violation of team rules. The talented but troubled big man was clearly the Huskies best player averaging 10.9 points, 8.8 rebounds, and a NCAA-leading 4.4 blocks per game. This is the second time that Upshaw has been kicked out of a program as he was also dismissed from Fresno State in 2013. While this certainly won’t help his draft stock he is still probably a late first round pick because skilled big men are hard to find even if there are some red flags around them. There is a possibility that Upshaw could start playing in the NBA Development League much like P.J. Hairston did last year, but that would require him to be ineligible to play NCAA basketball. Since we don’t know all the details behind Upshaw’s dismissal we cannot comment too much on the probability of that happening, but it is worth keeping an eye on moving forward.
  2. As we have mentioned many times we don’t pay that much attention to high school recruiting for a variety of reasons (including, but not limited to time constraints and a desire to remain sane), but the McDonald’s All-American designation has been around for long enough that we still pay attention when the rosters are announced. This year’s roster was no different even if we only know about half of the players well. The first thing that jumped out at us was that there was only one Kentucky commit on the two rosters, which is certainly different than previous years although part of that has to do with how Kentucky is recruiting now, but there are still nine uncommitted players in the game so John Calipari still has plenty of time to catch up. The other thing was that the players were spread out pretty evenly with only two schools–Duke and LSU–having two commits in the game.
  3. Speaking of Kentucky and their recruiting, maybe one of the reasons that their recruiting is “down” this year is that they are not just focusing on American talent. A striking example of this is the verbal commitment they received from Tai Wynyard, a 6’9″ power forward out of New Zealand. Although we are a little uncertain of the skills of a player from New Zealand, we do trust Calipari’s eye for talent and he has played at a high level internationally. For now the big question regarding Wynyard is when he would come to Lexington as he is still just 16 and currently in the class of 2016, but might reclassify to the class of 2015 meaning he would be on campus for next fall, which would already add to what could be the #1 class in the country (again).
  4. Wichita State guard Conner Frankamp was arrested early Sunday morning on a DUI charge. Frankamp blood alcohol level at the scene was 0.186, which is twice the legal limit in the state of Kansas (0.08). Although Frankamp is still sitting out this year after transferring from Kansas, the school did release the typical generic statement saying they will be looking into the matter. Despite Frankamp’s meager production at Kansas (2.5 points per game last year), he was a top-50 recruit coming out of high school, which would seem to suggest the possibility that he could have a big role playing with less competition particularly against a lower level of competition too.
  5. Speaking of transfer, former Memphis forward Kuran Iverson will be transferring to Rhode Island. Like Frankamp, Iverson’s production (4.6 points and 1.9 rebounds per game) does not particularly grab your attention, but he was also a top-50 recruit coming out of high school. Unlike Frankamp, Iverson made sure to leave a mark at the school on his way out by first getting suspended then retweeting someone’s criticism of Josh Pastner at which point the decision for Iverson to transfer was probably welcome on both sides. While the AAC is not exactly a basketball powerhouse, the move down to the Atlantic-10 (however slight it might be) and perhaps more importantly new scenery might be the boost that Iverson needs to show us why he was so highly recruited coming out of high school.

Morning Five: 07.16.14 Edition

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  1. The big college basketball news of the week was the decision by Emmanuel Mudiay to back out of his commitment to play at Southern Methodist to play overseas. As Mike Lemaire points out in his piece on the news it is a huge blow to SMU and Larry Brown’s plan for a quick turnaround. Outside of Mudiay’s concern for his family’s financial well-being during his year at college, which will probably be allayed in the near-term as he heads to Europe, there were also questions as to whether issues regarding financial compensation or academic concerns would have already made him ineligible to play in college anyways. With Mudiay’s talent, he has the potential to make the transition back to the NBA eventually like Brandon Jennings did in 2009, but we will miss seeing his talents try to reinvigorate the SMU program.
  2. Sean Miller might not be John Calipari on the recruiting trail yet, but he is still doing a pretty good job. His latest addition is Ray Smith, the #26 prospect according to ESPN in the class of 2015. Smith, a 6’8″ small forward, verbally committed to Arizona soon after tearing his ACL. Although Smith might miss his entire high school senior season recovering from the injury it could be a blessing for the Wildcats, who beat out several other prominent schools to land Smith, who might not have committed to them if he had more chances to showcase his talents. As Adam Finkelstein notes, the Wildcats have already had four straight top-10 classes, but this one has the potential to be a top-5 class or even #1 overall if things break right for them.
  3. There were interesting pieces of news that will lead players to miss some time next season. Butler transfer guard Austin Etherington, who averaged 2 points and 1.6 rebounds at Indiana last season, is expected to miss 3-4 months after undergoing surgery on his right foot. Georgia dismissed Brandon Morris after the junior forward was arrested on felony charges of intent to sell marijuana. Morris averaged 8.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game last season, but also missed three games due to an undisclosed violation of team policies. Iowa suspended Peter Jok after he was arrested for driving his moped with a revoked license. Jok, a sophomore, already had his license revoked after receiving a DUI on his moped in April so this will be a second strike against him. Although Jok only averaged 4.4 points per game as a freshman last season he was expected to pick up many of Roy Devyn Marble’s minutes and production. We are assuming that Fran McCaffery will let Jok back on the team, but if he doesn’t it would be a big loss for the Hawkeyes.
  4. We were not even aware Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg had a pacemaker (or any cardiac issues for that matter) until he had a battery replaced in the pacemaker yesterday. The pacemaker was put in at the time of his surgery for an aortic root aneurysm as the result of a complication from surgery (injury to the bundle of His) that necessitated the need for a pacemaker. Apparently, Hoiberg noticed that his heart rate was not elevating to the normal range leading to the replacement of his pacemaker battery. According to Hoiberg and the school the replacement appears to have been uneventful, which is not surprising given how straightforward it is, but is still good to hear.
  5. Lost in the media onslaught around LeBron’s decision to come home was its impact on college basketball. Or at least the impact that it nearly had. Everybody knows about the reports that John Calipari, Tom Izzo, and Billy Donovan had been contacted about the Cleveland job, but it appears that Bill Self was also approached by the Cavaliers about the vacancy. All four stayed at their current jobs, but we wonder if they might have felt differently had they been offered the job with LeBron there. So although there were no college coaches moving on to the NBA we would keep an eye on Cleveland as a potential destination particularly if things do not work out between LeBron and David Blatt.

Morning Five: 04.14.14 Edition

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  1. California will have to move on in their coaching search after Chris Mack decided to stay at Xavier. Mack, who is 111-57 in five seasons at Xavier including four NCAA Tournament appearances and two Sweet Sixteens, cited a desire to continue to coach the players he has worked with as his reason for staying. Xavier will be without Justin Martin, who averaged 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last season, but decided to transfer after his junior year and will be eligible to play immediately because of a graduate student waiver. Former Arizona State assistant and NBA coach Eric Musselman was reported to be next in line, but it appears that he is no longer in the running for the coaching vacancy. It is unclear who the administration is targeting now, but the two names who have been mentioned the most are California associate coach Travis DeCuire (Mike Montgomery’s recommendation) and UC Irvine coach Russell Turner.
  2. It appears that Georgia State is becoming a popular destination for discarded guards from the state of Kentucky. A year after Ryan Harrow left Kentucky to be with his father, who suffered a stroke, former Louisville guard Kevin Ware has decided to also transfer to Georgia State. Ware will also seek a hardship waiver and when combined with his medical redshirt from last season could be eligible to play for two more seasons at Georgia State. When combined with a backcourt that already has Harrow and R.J. Hunter, they should be the dominant team in the Sun Belt once again.
  3. It was an interesting weekend for Iowa State on the transfer front. Abdel Nader, a transfer from Northern Illinois transfer who sat out last season after averaging 13.1 points and 5.6 rebounds at Northern Illinois, was suspended indefinitely after he was arrested for a DUI late on Saturday night. Iowa State got better news on Sunday when Bryce Dejean-Jones announced that he would be transferring to Iowa State. Dejean-Jones, who led UNLV in scoring last season at 13.6 points per game, will be eligible to play immediately because of a graduate student waiver.
  4. Creighton will be taking a step back next year, but the addition of Maurice Watson Jr. could help ease the transition. Watson, a transfer from Boston University after a sophomore season in which he led them in scoring (13.3), assists (7.1), and steals (2.1 per game), will serve as Grant Gibbs’ replacement assuming Gibbs is unable to figure out to work out a couple more years on the Creighton campus (honestly, he is approaching Tommy Boy status at this point). Shockingly, Watson does not appear to have any transfer waiver ready so he will be able to play during the 2015-16 season.
  5. Ohio State picked up a potentially important transfer in Trevor Thompson. Thompson averaged 5 points and 4.7 rebounds per game last season as a freshman, but did show flashes of becoming something more including a 15 point, six rebound performance against Duke. Thompson joins Anthony Lee, a Temple transfer among those joining the Buckeyes next season. According to reports, Thompson will also be seeking a transfer waiver due his father’s medical condition (no idea what that condition is). With his height (6’11”) and potential, he could be a valuable addition to Ohio State.

Morning Five: 02.27.14 Edition

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  1. Coming into the season if you would have guessed that Ole Miss would have a significant discipline problem you probably would have guessed it was coming from Marshall Henderson. It has turned out that Henderson has behaved relatively well and it is instead sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus, who was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules yesterday. Millinghaus was averaging 7.2 points and 2.4 assists per game this season so his absence will certainly be felt, but fortunately for the Rebels they have enough depth in the backcourt that they should be able to withstand his loss.
  2. Barring a miraculous run in the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana will not be back in the NCAA Tournament this season and at most will be looking at a lower-level post-season tournament. So it was surprising to see Tom Crean announce that Hanner Mosquera-Perea was back on the team after missing just 11 days and two games following his DUI arrest on February 14. As you can see from the comments on that post even the Indiana fan base appears divided on Crean’s decision. To be honest we cannot really understand why Crean would let Mosquera-Perea come back to the team this season unless he was concerned that Mosquera-Perea might transfer if he was held out for the rest of the season.
  3. The BYU Honor Code made national headlines with its restrictions in particular the case involving Brandon Davies. Now it appears that the school is changing the way it deals with its Honor Code in relation to how much it discloses to the media. The school will now only release information on the violations if it is a matter of public record or if the student-athletes initiates the conversation on the violation. The new rules regarding disclosure of information certainly makes sense since the old policy would appear to violate the student’s right to privacy. This obviously won’t address the issues some people have with actual Honor Code, but it is a big step in the right direction in terms of the student-athlete’s privacy rights.
  4. Duke might be taking the crown for this year’s top recruiting class, but that is not stopping John Calipari from already starting to put another ridiculous recruiting class next year. His latest 5-star addition is Chicago junior shooting guard Charles Matthews  who committed to Kentucky yesterday. Matthews, ranked 12th in ESPN’s class of 2015 rankings, chose Kentucky over Illinois, Kansas, Marquette, and Michigan State. Obviously, it is very early in that recruiting cycle (only 10 of ESPN’s top 60 recruits have committed so far) and Matthews is Kentucky’s first commitment for the class of 2015, but we are fairly confident that Calipari will be putting together yet another blockbuster class. For a comprehensive breakdown of what Matthews is bringing to Lexington check out Jeff Borzello’s excellent breakdown on Matthews’ commitment.
  5. The topic of rushing the court (or whatever term you prefer) seems to be coming increasing scrutiny these days. Most observers do not necessarily issue with the concept of rushing the court or the exuberance that college students have for the game (the latter is part of what makes the sport so special). The issue that some have (and one that we occasionally poke fun at on Twitter) is how or when certain crowds should rush the court. Gary Parrish argues that an argument can be made for banning court storms all together, but it is pointless to argue the relative merit of one versus the other. We agree with Parrish to a degree and are generally ok with most court storms as long as they don’t feel forced. It might feel weird to see students at some school rush the court, but it is probably unreasonable to expect kids between the age of 18 and 22 to understand all of the tradition that some of these programs have or even to have the same sensibilities as we do.

ACC Big Men Have Bright Futures: Will Their Teams Follow?

It is often bandied about that guards win games (along with defense) because they have the ball in their hands most often and thus affect the action more than other positions. While this is certainly a valid viewpoint, interior post players can often mean the difference between a championship team or a bubble team. The popular mindset is that big men take longer to develop in the college ranks because of the learning curve required to manage their combination of power, size and dexterity. Most post players come to the Division I ranks with a limited post game but raw with athleticism and length, prized characteristics that NBA GMs in every professional franchise covet.

Kennedy Meeks is a handful in the paint (USA TODAY Sports)

Kennedy Meeks is a handful in the paint (USA TODAY Sports)

The ACC this season is rich in young frontcourt talent that is likely to stay for more than a year in the collegiate ranks. North Carolina is a great example of the conference’s youthful exuberance in the post, sporting a terrific breadth of versatility in that regard. Kennedy Meeks and Brice Johnson are the tip of the iceberg, both terrific rebounders with vastly different approaches.  At 290 pounds, Meeks is a strong and sturdy freshman who isn’t a terrific leaper but uses his body and angles to score and rebound the offensive glass very well. He also possesses one of the nation’s best outlet passes, a perfect conduit for guards Nate Britt and Marcus Paige to start Roy Williams’ break. Johnson, on the other hand, is a long beanpole of a forward who has had a breakout sophomore year for the Tar Heels, ranking fourth in ACC field goal percentage at 54.5%. UNC’s frontcourt depth doesn’t completely end there, though, as the Heels also have 6’10”, 280-pound sophommore Joel James, who is a load in the paint but hasn’t found consistent playing time this season. Freshman Isaiah Hicks too has a bright future ahead of him at UNC; the McDonald’s All-American recorded seven blocks and pulled down an insane 30 rebounds in his state’s high school championship game last year. But the ACC’s young frontcourt brigade of talent doesn’t end in Chapel Hill.

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Morning Five: 02.17.14 Edition

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  1. On Saturday, Mike Arespo, the commissioner of the American Athletic Conference, said that the member schools were committed to matching other power conferences when it came to giving student-athletes stipends. Although Arespo did not specifically state how much the schools would be willing to spend it appears that it would likely be the often-quoted full cost of attendance. As Arespo notes, there are a myriad of other political and legal issues that have to be addressed, but this could be another step in further separating the haves from the have nots.
  2. Indiana suspended sophomore forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea indefinitely after he was arrested on a DUI charge (technically an operating while intoxicated charge). Mosquera-Perea, who has struggled to live up to the hype generated by his ridiculous YouTube clips coming out of high school, was arrested on Friday morning just after 3 AM. Normally we would figure that a coach would make an indefinite suspension go away rather quickly, but with the way that Mosquera-Perea and the Hoosiers have been playing there might even be the possibility that Crean keep him out for a prolonged period of time. We doubt that it will happen, but it would be nice to see a coach hold a player accountable for doing something like this for once.
  3. We have mixed feelings about the decision by Lamar to fire Pat Knight on Sunday. On one hand, Knight has been awful at Lamar going 3-22 so far this year after going 3-28 last season. The lone bright spot during his nearly three-year run at the school was a NCAA Tournament appearance in his first season that was sparked by his epic rant. On the other side, we have no idea what the school is getting by firing a Knight a month before their season will end. For some schools we can understand the idea that you can get a better coach, but when you are Lamar you really don’t have a shot at the real big names. So unless there is something that we are missing like an issue with Knight behind the scenes it seems like a strange time to fire him.
  4. We should probably be more familiar with new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, but we mostly know him as the guy who typically gets the big standing ovation when he takes over for David Stern at the NBA Draft between the first and second round. It appears that Silver could be making a name for himself more quickly than we anticipated. In an interview in USA Today, Silver stated that he would like to raise the age limit by one year and get rid of the one-and-done rule. We understand that there will be some legal issues with doing so, but we think that those are likely the same philosophical issues that people have had with the current age limit. On a selfish level, we would love to see this because it would mean that players would most likely have to stay for two years. Frankly we are not sure why this would not be something that the Players Association would be in favor of too since it would give the current members an extra year of job security.
  5. Jay Bilas has made a habit out of poking fun at the NCAA for its many hypocrisies. One of his more popular stunts from last year was exposing how the NCAA was selling player jerseys by advertising the player’s name on their website even though they claim it is team jersey not a player jersey to bolster their assertion that a player should not receive a portion of the profits. On Friday, someone in control of Syracuse’s social media accounts made the mistake of advertising a Syracuse #11 jersey as a Tyler Ennis jersey. While it was already obvious to every fan who wears that #11 jersey for the Orange this season in theory this should be a NCAA violation and more importantly a legal problem for the school and the NCAA since they are not supposed to profit off a player’s likeness. You can be sure that the O’Bannon legal team appreciated this gift.

Morning Five: 02.11.14 Edition

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  1. Coming into the season we knew that the only thing that DePaul fans had to look forward to was debates over the proposal by Rahm Emanuel to build them a new stadium. What followed has been a 10-14 record overall and 2-9 in the Big East. To be fair they are tied with Butler and we suspect that any DePaul fan would have taken that part coming into the season. Now the Blue Demons will have to complete the rest of the season without Cleveland Melvin, who is no longer enrolled at the school. Melvin, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, has been suspended since January 25 for unspecified reasons so perhaps his departure should not be viewed as much of a surprise. We would suspect that Melvin’s next stop will be a trip to an international destination out of O’Hare.
  2. Toledo was dealt a huge blow in what should be a very big game in the Mid-American Conference as it announced that it had suspended Justin Drummond, its leading scorer, for one game after he was arrested for a DUI on Saturday night. Drummond will be held out of Wednesday night’s game against Ohio, which is in second in the Eastern Division of the MAC (Toledo is in first in the West). Drummond is averaging 14.6 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game. Toledo will still have a shot at winning the game particularly since it is at home and fortunately for the them they will still be in control of their destiny with regards to getting an automatic bid with a favorite seed for the MAC Tournament so hopefully Drummond can learn from this mistake.
  3. We have heard a lot of takes on the Marcus Smart incident. Many of them have been good. Some of them have been ridiculous, but we are not sure that we have heard one quite like Tom Izzo‘s where he puts part of the blame on social media. If you have seen our Twitter feed you should be aware that we are not against social media so our view might be slightly biased, but to pin (at the very least) some of the blame for the actions of Jeff Orr and Marcus Smart on social media is borderline ridiculous. Do people say dumb stuff online? Of course. They also say dumb stuff in person. Players today might get bombarded with more direct criticism via online access, but to use that as a crutch for Smart’s action(s) is really letting him and others who have behaved badly in the public eye off the hook way too easily.
  4. The long-awaited renovation to Rupp Arena was unveiled yesterday when Lexington mayor Jim Gray revealed plans for the $310 million renovation. Gray is defending the expense as a key piece of economic development for the city. One interesting aspect of the project is that the city still has not revealed how it intends to pay for it. While Big Blue Nation is certainly passionate about its basketball it is interesting to see how apprehensive the quoted residents are about the project and how it will be funded. Having said that we have not seen many municipalities reject a stadium being built or renovated, but the Lexington residents do have the benefit of the school not being able to move.
  5. We are just about a month away from fans starting to look at their rosters and try to figure out who is coming back. In general fans view a high percentage of returning players as a good thing and it certainly seems like sound logic, but as Dan Hanner points out experience is not a guarantee for success. Given the state of college basketball where most of the top programs lose players to the NBA after a year or two it should not be surprising that most of Hanner’s examples involve lesser-known programs, but it is still interesting to see how many teams have struggled despite returning so much from the previous season.

Big Ten M5: 01.29.14 Edition

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  1. We were treated to another great match-up last night when Michigan State came into Iowa and defeated the Hawkeyes 71-69 in overtime. For the Spartans, it was another impressive performance as they registered a big road win with many of their key players out or playing injured. As for the Hawkeyes, this loss may reintroduce some concerns that basketball opinion makers have about this team. As of today, Iowa’s best win is against Ohio State – a win that looked better two weeks ago than it does today. Against top tier teams, the Hawkeyes have consistently fallen short. However, they have performed extremely well against teams they are supposed to beat, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. The bottom line is that we may not have a good handle on how good the Hawkeyes are until the end of the season.
  2. In their 80-75 win at Michigan State this past Saturday, Michigan put the country on notice that they had no plans in making this a rebuilding year after losing several key players from last season’s National Championship runner-up squad. Now, the Wolverines are alone atop the Big Ten standings and have college basketball experts revising their expectations of them. But, don’t expect John Beilien to buy into the hype; he’s already moved on from their big win and is looking ahead to Thursday’s game against Purdue. “We’ve basked enough, no more basking,” Beilien told a local Ann Arbor radio station on Monday. Michigan’s head man may not want to concentrate on what he’s accomplished this season, but Big Ten fans should. With him at the helm, there is no reason to think Michigan can’t be a dominant force for years to come.
  3. Another surprising team in conference play has been Minnesota. Despite having a first-year coach, Richard Pitino, and losing some significant pieces from last year’s team, the Golden Gophers have kept their own in league play and have impressive wins against Ohio State and Wisconsin. But on Sunday, Minnesota lost some of its momentum when it dropped a game at Nebraska. A major reason for the loss may have been the poor play of DeAndre Mathieu who had 13 points, but also had 9 of the Gophers’ 13 turnovers. While he is not Minnesota’s best player, Mathieu’s steady point guard play has allowed other players, such as likely All-Conference teammate Andre Hollins, to be productive on the offensive side which has led the team to have an adjusted offensive efficiency of 1.18 points per possession (top 15 in the nation). With Hollins out indefinitely, Mathieu will get a lot more attention from defenses and he’ll need to improve his play for Minnesota to continue battling for an NCAA Tournament bid.
  4. Speaking of the Cornhuskers, bad news came out of Lincoln on Monday: Deverell Biggs, Nebraska’s third leading scorer, was dismissed from the team. Although no specific incident or cause was given for  his release, Biggs has had disciplinary issues in the past including a DUI in 2012. The Cornhuskers had been playing the role of spoiler throughout conference play, upsetting both Ohio State and Minnesota within six days. Without Biggs, upsets will be more difficult to come by which could rob Tim Miles of some needed momentum going into the next few seasons as he continues to try and build a respectable program in Lincoln. If either Ray Gallegos or Tai Webster can step up their production, there may still be a shot for Nebraska to make some noise in the conference.
  5. After a six-game losing streak, one thing is apparent in Champaign: this Illinois team is not like last season’s squad. Last year’s team was able to come back from a poor start in conference play because of talented senior guards that led them back to postseason form. This year, Illinois’ offensive woes do not appear fixable. They are last in the conference in eFG percentage (40.5%) and second-to-last in adjusted offensive efficiency (0.92 point per possession) and three-point shooting (25.8%). Despite all this, John Groce admires the fight his team has put up through its slump. While Groce’s enthusiasm is admirable, this can’t be where he thought his team would be when they were 2-0 in the conference and had wins against Missouri and UNLV. He’s been playing his freshmen more often in games, which may be a sign that he is looking towards the future as he grips with the reality his team faces in the present.

Morning Five: 01.29.14 Edition

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  1. The announcement that a group of Northwestern football players are asking to be represented by a labor union probably will not elicit the amount of attention it deserves from the general public because… well, they are Northwestern football players, but it could be one of the biggest sports stories of this year. With the backing of the National College Players Association the football players filed a petition to be recognized as employees with the National Labor Relations Board and filed union cards for an undisclosed number of players. Before we get ahead of ourselves we should point out that this is just the first step of the process (“getting a seat at the table” as they say), but it is an important one. As you can imagine the NCAA is not a fan of the idea and has issued a statement essentially saying that athletes do not meet the definition of employees and thus should not be awarded rights typically given to unions. The scope and details of the case go well beyond what we have the space to cover here so we would recommend you check out the excellent Outside the Lines piece we linked to earlier.
  2. We all knew it was coming, but Dante Exum came out and announced it yesterday: he will be entering this year’s NBA Draft. The Australian point guard, who is projected by most to be a top-5 pick in this year’s Draft, had reportedly been considering playing college basketball and even had come up with a list of finalists. Basically it was a list of top programs with no real shot (even UNC where his father played) since Exum is guaranteed NBA millions. Multiple players including Andrew Bogut, a fellow Australian and #1 pick who actually went to college, came out publicly and urged Exum not to go to college. Now college basketball fans can bring back their dreams of landing a star recruit to American high school players.
  3. According to Tim Miles it was not a single incident, but rather a series of them that led him to dismiss Deverell Biggs from the team. Biggs, who redshirted last season after coming to Lincoln as a first-team junior college All-American, was the team’s third-leading scorer at 9.9 points per game despite being a reserve playing just 20.5 minutes per game. We do not know the full extent of the series of incidents that led to Biggs’ dismissal, but he was cited in April 2012 for suspicion of DUI and in December 2012 for leaving the scene of an accident then was suspended in July for a violation of team rules. We do not know what happened to make Miles finally decide to get rid of Biggs, but we imagine that there will be somebody else out there to take a chance on Biggs.
  4. We are not sure what “medical and personal reasons” have led Kennesaw State coach Lewis Preston to take off from his coaching duties since January 2, but the school announced that he will return to his coaching duties at the end of this season. Preston, who is 7-61 (not a typo) as a head coach at Kennesaw State, was replaced by Jimmy Lallathin, who did not do much better going 3-12 as the interim coach. As we said we have no idea what the specific reasons were for Preston’s absence were and it would be reckless to speculate on what those reasons could be so we will just wish Preston the best in his return.
  5. Normally the loss of a player who is averaging 2.8 points and 2.8 rebounds per game would not even merit a mention here (ok, maybe if they did something really dumb), but Xavier’s frontcourt is so thin that the indefinite suspension of freshman forward Jalen Reynolds might have an impact on the team. Despite his limited playing time (partly the result of his propensity to foul) Reynolds is one of the top rebounders on the team and as a freshman one would expect him to improve as the year goes along. Based on the reports on nearly every site it appears that this is an academic issue so we doubt that we will see Reynolds back this season.