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ACC Morning Five: 01.30.12 Edition

  1. CBSSports.com: Gregg Doyel hits the nail on the head in this column (by the way, Doyel covered the ACC for the Charlotte Observer before going to CBSSports.com and wasn’t exactly close with Mike Krzyzewski over the years) on Duke‘s Cameron Crazies. The one caveat is that he didn’t really offer a solution to the boredom and lack of ownership. For comparison’s sake Coach K offered his thoughts (courtesy of Duke Hoop Blog):

    “Our crowd sometimes becomes fans instead of part of the game. Overall, our crowd has been part of what we’ve done. They haven’t come there to watch us play. They’ve come there to compete with us. I think this year it’s more of watching us play and cheering us on. When you do that you don’t really understand the game situations as well. You don’t have a feel for the game. You can’t be as on point. That doesn’t mean we don’t love them. But, this team needs it more and would benefit from that support.”

    I think both Doyel and Krzyzewski are probably right. The Cameron atmosphere was developed as Duke got more talented. It gradually became more and more controlled in the 1990s and eventually morphed to its present state. Other than big games (I’m thinking of Maryland and North Carolina recently) and big-time players, the Crazies don’t seem as connected with the game as in the past. It has started to feel like more of a show. Basically, I think Coach K describes the current issue that led to the problem brought up by Doyel.
    Author’s Note: As a side note, Coach K gave a pretty scathing press conference after Duke beat St. John’s at home. It’s worth a watch.

  2. ACC Sports: Adrian Atkinson (normally our North Carolina defensive-charting connoisseur) took a look at Duke’s most used lineups this season. Remember, he’s only using Duke’s conference games so the sample size is fairly small, meaning you should take the efficiencies with a grain of salt. That said, I think his overall conclusions are fairly interesting. Duke’s most effective lineup is Tyler Thornton, Seth Curry, Austin Rivers, Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly. It’s a little surprising to me that this lineup isn’t used more often given the fact that its defensive efficiency is so outrageous. It’s also worth noting that Duke’s defense drops off dramatically by just replacing Thornton with Andre Dawkins. Even worse than that (shockingly) is replacing Ryan Kelly with Miles Plumlee (which leads me to believe that both Plumlees are good defenders at the five, but horrid defenders at the four). Anyways, these numbers are fascinating and worth a look.
  3. Fox Sports South: Apparently, Harrison Barnes isn’t a fan of pink shoes. At halftime against Georgia Tech Sunday, Barnes switched from the team’s pink kicks to the normal ones. Andrew Jones makes it sound like Barnes really struggled in the pink footwear, but Barnes was 4-8 from the field with 11 points at the half. More interestingly, Barnes shared his pregame soundtrack and meal. Tunes: John Legend. Food: “I always eat mashed potatoes, rice, spaghetti, chicken and steak [...] Two pieces of chicken, one piece of steak, [and the] steak’s cooked medium.”
  4. Palm Beach Post: If you told me one ACC coach would get a midseason contract extension I wouldn’t have been surprised. Pretty much all but two coaches appear to be doing strong jobs; Jeff Bzdelik and Jim Larranaga are the outliers (I also would probably hold my horses on Steve Donahue and Brian Gregory until I see them recruit, but that’s different). But it was Larranaga who got himself a three-year extension through 2019. Larranaga looks older than many of his coaching brethren, but he’s only 62. My guess is that the extension came (at least in some part) indirectly associated with the current NCAA investigation of Miami athletics.
  5. Charleston Post and Courier: It’s not directly related to the ACC, but former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins is taking a short medical leave that will probably last until the end of the season. Cremins did a terrific job putting College of Charleston on the map the last few years, though his trip to the Final Four at Georgia Tech stands as his career’s crowning achievement. Assistant coach Mark Byington will take over in his stead. The details of Cremins’ medical issues weren’t announced, though it’s reportedly not life-threatening and may be sleep-related.

EXTRA: Dan Wolken thinks college basketball should push its season back to January (moving March Madness to May) in order to shirk college football and the NFL, attempting to keep casual sports fans from ignoring the regular season. It may be in the NCAA’s best monetary interest, but I can’t see something this drastic happening without a big push. Still it’s an interesting piece.

Morning Five: 12.08.11 Edition

  1. It was a busy day in the ongoing Bernie Fine investigation. The District Attorney investigating the case at Syracuse has come out and said that the allegations by Zach Tomaselli, the third alleged victim of abuse, do not match up with the evidence. While the District Attorney did not give many details about the potentially exculpatory evidence, he said it challenged Tomaselli’s claims about his whereabouts at the time of the alleged abuse and would be handing it over to Fine’s defense team. He also added that the claims by the other two alleged victims appeared to be credible while criticizing The Post-Standard for not handing over the recently released tape that many point to as the tipping point in Fine’s firing even though it would not have led to a prosecution of Fine at the time because the statue of limitations had passed.
  2. One of the strangest traditions in college basketball will occur again this Friday night when Taylor University takes on Ohio-Midwestern in what is known as the “Silent Night” game. As part of the tradition, which is nearly two decades old at this point and is held on the Friday before finals week, the Taylor fans are to remain silent until the team scores its tenth point of the game at which point they will finally cheer. Then at the end of the game they will sing “Silent Night”. Fortunately, the Trojans are pretty good (#21 in the NAIA D-II poll) or the silence could go on for a long time. If you are interested in watching this, the game is available online for $4.95 (hey, we just bring you the news; we aren’t telling you to actually buy it).
  3. Oregon suffered a major blow when Jabari Brown decided to transfer, but they will be getting a boost in the form of Minnesota transfer Devoe Joseph, who will finally get to play for the Ducks this Saturday against Fresno State. Joseph, who averaged 11.3 PPG and 3.5 APG in his last season at Minnesota before deciding to transfer after being suspended, should immediately be one of Oregon’s top offensive threats and could be the piece that helps them stay towards the top of the Pac-12 despite the early season defections.
  4. This season has been an unmitigated disaster so far for UCLA and yesterday it got a little worse as freshman guard Norman Powell had to be taken to the hospital after suffering an allergic reaction at practice and will remain in the hospital overnight for observation. According to reports, Powell broke into hives and had trouble breathing during practice before being transferred to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center where he was stabilized. Given the severity of the reported symptoms and the fact that they are keeping him overnight for observation, we would be surprised if Powell played in the team’s next game, which is against Penn on Saturday.
  5. Finally, we don’t typically find mailbags that interesting, but Seth Davis manages to make his worthwhile by finding a handful of good questions and making some interesting points. This week’s edition is no different as Seth talks about tempering expectations for freshmen including those of a fan who compares Ryan Boatright to Kemba Walker and delves into the Scott Machado debate. As usual we agree with Seth on most of the stuff he says and as we have pointed out before people tend to overreact to the performance of freshman as well as many other things. As for Machado, we agree that he is a great college point guard, but it will be tough to glean too much from his performance the rest of the regular season due to a mediocre remaining schedule so in the end most of the nation will be forced to judge him based on his NCAA Tournament performance.

Checking In On… the Atlantic 10 Conference

Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the A-10 Conference. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vbtnBlog.

Reader’s Take

 

The Week That Was

Early Season Performances – The Oooh Aaaah Variety (Teams & Individuals)

The A-10 evened the record versus the six power conferences again last week, largely on the strength of performances by Xavier and Richmond. Xavier needed overtime to beat Vanderbilt in Nashville. Down by two with just under four minutes in regulation, Xavier held Vanderbilt scoreless and managed to tie on a Mark Lyons jumper with six seconds remaining in regulation. In overtime the Musketeers took the lead for good 68-66 on two Dezmine Wells free throws and Tu Holloway put a large enough margin between the teams (about eight points) when he hit two threes in successive possessions to absorb a Commodore mini-run. Vanderbilt chipped the Musketeers’ lead down to four, but could get no closer. Forced to foul, Holloway and Travis Taylor went a perfect 6 for 6 from the line to stretch the lead to 10 and suck the life out of the Commodore comeback.

Hosting Purdue five days later, Xavier again went down early, allowing Purdue to take the lead at the 18:49 mark of the first half and hold it for the next 37 minutes of play. The Boilermakers took an 11-point lead into the intermission and stretched it to 15 in the first 6:30 of the second half. Over the next 12:24 Xavier outscored Purdue 29-13 to take the lead for only the second time in the game. Once in control, the Musketeers did not let the Boilermakers back in, pushing their lead out to three in the last minute of the game.

As for Tu Holloway’s (and Xavier’s) week, we can’t say it any better than Rob Dauster over at Ballin’ is a Habit. Ok we could, but cut and paste required fewer key strokes and brain cells:

Those numbers are more interesting, however, when you break up the game. For example, with 3:30 left in overtime against Vanderbilt, Holloway had just 14 points on 4-17 shooting. That stat line looks much more impressive after he hit back-to-back threes on the next two possessions and four straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Likewise, against Purdue, Holloway had just 10 points and six turnovers in the first 38 minutes of the game, but in the final two minutes he hit a three on three consecutive possessions (video of the last two below) and followed that up with two free throws, completing the most impressive comeback of the young season…in the final three minutes against Vanderbilt and the last two minutes against Purdue, Holloway had 21 points, went 5-6 from beyond the arc and knocked down all six of his free throws attempts.

The Richmond squad had to replace 59% of their minutes and 68.6% of their scoring from the squad that won the A-10 conference tournament and ran to the Sweet Sixteen last March. Freshman point guard Kendall Anthony, three times designated Rookie of the Week by the conference, has picked up a load of time and scoring responsibilities for the Spiders so far. Richmond leaned heavily on Anthony along with sophomores Cedrick Lindsay and Derrick Williams for offense. Both chipped in double digit points to complement Anthony’s production. Lindsay was a serviceable back-up to senior point guard Kevin Anderson last season, but Williams, who has started all eight games for the Spiders, saw very little action as a freshman.

Overlooked Temple off guard Aaron Brown turned heads the summer before coming to North Broad, but had few opportunities to show Temple fans and the A-10 what he could do. Brown scored 21 points in 22 minutes in a display during Temple’s 86-74 win over Central Michigan. Ken Pomeroy would find hard to ignore his performance, as he hit 7-11 (4-7 from three point land, 3-4 from inside the arc) shots from the floor while getting to the line for five free throws, of which he hit three. That computes to an 81.8% eFG% with a 1.57 points per weighted shot, an outstanding outing for the sophomore, who was pressed into action due to the injury-depleted squad.

Early Season Performances – The What the !@#!@@!# Variety (Teams & Individuals)

After winning their early season invitational tournaments, beating four power conference opponents (two each) during the tournament, both Dayton and Saint Louis stumbled in post tournament games. The losses are puzzling because for both teams, the games were winnable. Saint Louis took an “and-one” game with Loyola Marymount of the West Coast Conference, losing by seven with a performance that had team observers scratching their heads. Dayton compounded the first post tournament loss (by 29 to Buffalo of the MAC) with a second loss, this one by 17, to Murray State of the Ohio Valley Conference. The opponents were beatable, making the scoring margins downright consternating. Dayton was pegged to finish in the middle of the conference, but the two unexpected losses (albeit the Racers will most likely contend for the OVC title this season) could damage the Flyers chances for a post season NIT bid. Other inexplicable losses go to Saint Bonaventure’s home loss to Arkansas State of the Sun Belt Conference, a 3-4 team no one expects to make noise this season. The Bonnies were not helped by a lackluster six-point, nine-rebound effort from Andrew Nicholson.

Power Rankings

The Power Rankings are shuffled again this week in response to the Ooohs, Aaaahs and What the heck games listed above. For the Atlantic-10 the post season margin for error is exceedingly slim. Three losses going into the first or second week of December can take a school off the RPI short list pretty quickly.

1. Xavier (6-0) #8 AP – Xavier took down two more power conference programs last week in fashion impressive enough to climb three more spots in the AP poll. I listed many of the impressive details in the impressive performances section above, but  in addition to the video link below that shows two of Tu Holloway’s three “last two minute” three point field goals below (h/t to Dana & Victory Blog for the link). I should also mention that in Nashville Mark Lyons (19 points) and Travis Taylor (11 points) chipped in more than 10 apiece to go with Holloway’s 24 point performance, while Antoine Walker collected 14 rebounds in his return to Vanderbilt where he played for three years. Versus Purdue three Musketeers, Lyons (14 points), Walker (10 points) and Kenny Fraese (10 points) chipped in double digit points to complement Holloway’s 21 point outburst.

 

 

Xavier will travel to Indianapolis Wednesday for a game with Butler, then return home to host this season’s Crosstown Shootout versus Cincinnati on Saturday. Win these next two and Chris Mack’s squad deserves something special, like Christmas in Hawaii…wait.

2. Saint Louis (7-1) –Their top 25 ranking proved surprisingly short, the penalty for stumbling against the Lions last Tuesday. St. Louis recovered to beat another WCC team, Portland  by 20, 73-53 at the Chaifetz. The Billikens’ defense limited Portland to 0.90 points per possession, much as they had Boston College and Oklahoma. Scoring centered on Brian Conklin and Cody Ellis, with Kyle Cassidy and Mike McCall providing efficient long-range scoring. They will host Vermont on Wednesday and Division II Illinois-Springfield on Saturday.

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Pac-12 Media Day Recap: Part Two

The Pac-12 Basketball Media Day took place on Friday in Los Angeles. Here is part two of our coverage, where we will take a look at the top three quotes from each of the six southern schools.  Yesterday we covered the northern schools.

Arizona (full transcript available here)

  • Coach Sean Miller on the results of the preseason media poll: “There’s no way in the world we’re the third best team in the Pac-12. You can say every coach says something like that. I didn’t say that last year. Hopefully I won’t say it next year, but I’m saying it now. There is no chance at all that’s where we are.
  • Miller on Kevin Parrom: “Not having him hurts us. His status, I really believe he’ll return to the court this year.We’re pointing towards late November, early December if he continues to experience the same progress that he has.”

Parrom is Key to Arizona's Post-Derrick Williams Success

  • Miller on freshman point guards Nick Johnson and Josiah Turner: “I’ll start with Nick Johnson. To me he’s shown early on he’s the most ready [of the team’s four freshmen]. Playing in the high school program that he played at the last two years, to me, has given him a leg up. He was one of the bright spots in last night’s game. He played in the game the way he practices. To me, continuing to develop and give Nick a bigger role was something that we have to do. Josiah, the hardest position, I think, to transfer from high school to college is point guard. With continued work, he’s going to be a much better player four weeks from now, two weeks from now, than he is right now, and I’m confident in saying that.”

Thoughts: Miller’s right when he says that the Wildcats aren’t the third best team in the conference right now. But as Turner, in particular, gets his legs underneath him, and once Parrom returns, the Wildcats will be very good.

Arizona State (full transcript available here)

Pac-12 Media Day Recap: Part One

The Pac-12 Basketball Media Day took place Friday in Los Angeles. Here is part one of our coverage, where we will take a look at the top three quotes from each of the six northern schools.  Tomorrow morning we’ll cover the southern schools.

Washington (full transcript available here)

  • Coach Lorenzo Romar on the importance of playing schools like Duke and Marquette in nonconference play: “I think as we’ve seen over the last several years, our conference usually is evaluated based on our nonconference schedule in terms of a national perception. Sometimes an opinion is formed in the preseason, and then sometimes the nation doesn’t look back to see what teams are doing. So, again, we’re faced with it. There are a number of teams in our conference that have high profile, non-conference games. I think it’s important that we do well in those games.”
  • Coach Romar on Seattle Pacific-Arizona: “My thoughts are that in an exhibition game, it’s a time to experiment. It’s a time to teach. It’s a time to learn. I am very fortunate. We’re fortunate that we didn’t have an exhibition game last night, trust me. The way I see it from a coach’s perspective is I’m sure they got a lot out of it. Seattle Pacific went in there and obviously gave them a great ballgame and challenged them. That they have some new players as well. Some young players. That gives them a perspective of what level you have to be at at this level. So a game like that can do a lot more good for a team than if they were to play someone and blow them out by 50 or 60 and give them a false sense of who they were.”

UW Fans Are Hyped About the Arrival of Local Hero Wroten

  • Coach Romar on freshman point guard Tony Wroten, Jr.: “Tony Wroten, I can almost guarantee you, not a hundred percent, but I can — I’m willing to say that people will be surprised at Tony Wroten, and I’m not talking about the level of player he is, he’s an exceptional basketball player. But when they see how he will get on the floor and dive for a ball. How they can see that playing defense and things like that are really some of the intangible things that are important to him. When people see that, I think people have a different impression of what they thought he was going to be like. I think he’s been labeled somewhat of a show boat, show man, and that’s all he cares about. I think if you’re a Husky fan, people will be pleasantly surprised but that’s not totally him. He has fun. He enjoys the game. But at the same time, he’s a really tough competitor. So he’s done well.

Thoughts: Wroten, Jr., sounds even better than originally advertised, which is still pretty great. Definitely has the potential to be the next Isaiah Thomas or Brandon Roy for the Huskies.

Washington State (full transcript available here)

Big 12 Morning Five: 10.25.11 Edition

  1. Despite rumors that Missouri would withdraw from the Big 12 on Monday, the league’s Board of Directors meeting passed without an official decision last night. Big 12 commissioner Chuck Neinas told the AP that MU has not yet joined the SEC, but we’ll still keep an eye on this developing story over the next few days. For now, we’ll just have to deal with those top-secret sources and the rumor mill to keep us occupied.
  2. Speaking of that rumor mill, the Kansas City Star suggests that the Notre Dame/Big 12 talk may be heating up. That would be an interesting scenario, though more so from the Fighting Irish’s standpoint. Apparently, a move to the Big 12 would require ND to also bring its national football program into the league. The Star published this article just weeks after a document mentioned the Irish as a possible candidate for the Big 12. Again, this is all speculation, but it’s pretty juicy stuff.
  3. And finally, in your last realignment news of the day: West Virginia also appears to be a top target of the Big 12, and one league official is more than thrilled at that possibility. He’s so happy, in fact, that he issued the following quote, which deserves an entire block of text: “West Virginia has better football than Missouri, better basketball than Missouri, a better budget than Missouri and more passion among its fans than Missouri. They’re better, anyway you turn ‘em. The travel’s not good (to Morgantown, W. Va) but that’s it.” Tell us how you really feel, right?
  4. If you’re interested in hearing some expert opinion on the upcoming Big 12 hoops season, check out this interview with ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla. Even without Ron Franklin by his side, Fraschilla’s one of the best commentators in the business, and he’s covered the league extensively as a color man. He admits that Kansas and Texas are the two premier programs at this point in time, but he says the major graduations and NBA defections will open the door for the rest of the league this season. That’s hardly rocket science, of course, but Fraschilla’s got an interesting perspective on things. The interview is worth a look.
  5. Billy Gillispie has probably had enough of the public eye after his tenure at Kentucky, but he gave a candid interview to the Associated Press about his troubles. Regarding his much-publicized alcohol issue, Gillispie said he “made some stupid decisions,” but he said getting back into coaching at Texas Tech has helped him cope. One of the most interesting things about this hire for Tech is Gillispie’s roots in the state of Texas as a successful former coach at UTEP and Texas A&M, and the article touches on this aspect of his hiring as well.

The Greatest Shot in Duke Basketball History: Not The One You Think…

We mentioned this over on TumblRTC a little while ago, but thought it was interesting enough to bear repeating here.  Duke great Bobby Hurley is set to enter the school’s athletic hall of fame on Friday afternoon, and although we think he’s on the short list of the greatest collegiate point guards to ever lace them up, we’re not sure that many people under the age of 30 remember much about him because his professional career was a bust (in large part due to a serious car accident he sustained during his rookie season).  Here’s what you need to know:

  • Four-year starting point guard on Duke teams that went 119-26 (.821) overall and 18-2 (.900) in the NCAA Tournament
  • Won two national championships (1991, 1992)
  • Played in three national championship games (1990, 1991, 1992)
  • Won two ACC championships (1991, 1992)
  • Two-time All-American (1992, 1993)
  • Three-time All-ACC selection (1991, 1992, 1993)
  • Final Four Most Outstanding Player (1992)
  • All-time NCAA leader in assists (1,076)
  • Retired jersey at Duke (#11)
In addition to these honors and accomplishments, his head coach Mike Krzyzewski says in the below clip prepared for the induction ceremony that it was Hurley who nailed what he considers “the biggest shot that [he's] seen a Duke basketball player make.”  As far as we can remember, Coach K was also present on the sideline for this relatively minor bucket at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, so he’s either completely BSing us in elevating Hurley’s late trey in the 1991 national semifinals against UNLV over Laettner’s “Shot of the Century,” or he’s genuinely making a point about a school finally getting over the hump.  See for yourselves…

From the perspective of a coach who, at the time, was burdened with the weight of multiple Final Four flameouts (prior to 1991, Duke was the classic college basketball bridesmaid, having been to eight Final Fours and four under Krzyzewski without yet bringing home a trophy), Hurley’s long-range bomb to bring Duke back to within two points against the same team that had incinerated them the previous year probably felt massively important (for a detailed look at this game, check out our Greatest Games piece).  And K’s selection of this moment belies a fundamental truth about sports, and frankly, life in general.  When you’re the underdog fighting for recognition and a piece of the title, that unequivocal breakthrough moment (in K’s mind, Hurley’s 1991 three) where you finally and ultimately slay the dragon feels better than the moments where you’re already on top and merely seeking to protect that status (Laettner in 1992).  Heavy is the head that wears the crown, indeed, and it’s obvious that even after all of these intervening years and unbelievable successes that Krzyzewski has enjoyed in Durham, he still looks back at that one moment late in the 1991 UNLV game as the pivotal point between Duke’s oft-disappointing past and its bright future.

Attention NCAA: Heed the Chicken Littles, Hoopocalypse is a Real Threat

Over the weekend, we were once again regaled and entertained by a conference realignment passion play, this one involving the forlorn and lost souls of Texas A&M, veritable auslanders in their own backyard, and the biggest, baddest bully on the football block, the Southeastern Conference (SEC).  The brass in College Station, you see, is legitimately chafed that the monolithic academic and athletic powerhouse located 100 miles west in Austin — the University of Texas — will soon be rolling out its very own Longhorn Sports Network, a cable and satellite channel that can be beamed coast to coast to tens of millions of interested eyeballs while TAMU is stuck with its online channel, 12thManTV.  Their anger is understandable — not only do the Horns regularly whip the Aggies on the gridiron (10 of the last 15 games) and the boardroom (Texas athletic department’s operating budget was $60M more than A&M’s in 2009-10), but they’re now positioned to permanently write their own ticket for the foreseeable future.  That gap is unlikely to narrow.

No Doubt It Feels Like This at A&M

As of Monday afternoon, a Texas A&M move to the SEC was still on hold.  A&M’s regents need to first formally agree to approach the SEC, and then the Texas state legislature would have to be involved in some capacity as well.  But whether it happens this week, next week, or even a couple more years down the road — this, and other moves like it, are inevitable.  The astronomical number of dollars available to schools through BCS bowl payouts and television contracts ensures further positioning; in some ways, the search for a bigger and better deal is capitalism at its finest.  But like any marketplace unfettered by regulation and common sense, individuals acting rationally for their own best interests can ultimately lead to irresponsible and undesirable outcomes.  Two pieces published this morning hit on such a distinct future possibility.

Gary Parrish at CBSSports.com and Eamonn Brennan at ESPN.com both write that if realignment continues moving in such a way where each school and conference continues to chase dollars at the trough of football exposure, we’re ultimately faced with an endgame of the 65 or so biggest schools doing an end-around on the NCAA by breaking off and starting its own governing organization.  We’ve discussed this rather apocalyptic possibility before here, and from a purely football (and financial) perspective it makes perfect sense, but Parrish and Brennan’s argument is a salient one.  Such a conclusion would effectively end the mythical David/Goliath beauty of the NCAA Tournament as we know it.  As Parrish states:

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Study: Butler Basketball Generates Over $1 Billion in Publicity For School

Every March, much of America is glued to their televisions (or computers) watching the NCAA Tournament. As we all know, the NCAA Tournament is big-time business with the newest TV contract selling for $10.8 billion for the right to broadcast the NCAA Tournament for 14 years. Numerous pundits point out that the schools get a significant amount of publicity which helps their reputation nationally as academic institutions (or at least places to watch pretty good basketball for four years) and often leads to spikes in applications. A study by Jaren and Devin Pope in Southern Economic Journal stated that the applications rose the year after a NCAA Tournament appearance by the following amounts:

  • NCAA Tournament appearance led to a 1% increase
  • Sweet Sixteen appearance led to a 3% increase
  • Final Four appearance led to a 4-5% increase
  • NCAA Championship led to a 7-8% increase
In some cases just making the NCAA Tournament means little to a basketball or academic stalwart like Kentucky or Princeton, respectively. However, for smaller schools they can be a huge boon, as demonstrated by Belmont, which drew in many fans after nearly knocking off Duke in the first round in 2008 and had its largest application pool ever the following year. Since 2006, the first year the Bruins made the NCAA Tournament, to 2011, their applications rose by nearly 70% going from 2,266 to 3,847. An even more extreme example is Butler, which saw its applications rise by 41% after its appearance in the 2010 NCAA Championship game.

How much is the publicity that a Cinderella gets worth?

While the data (both academic and anecdotal) on the increase in applications has become widely accepted and expected, there has not been much research on the actual monetary value derived from the exposure of having a basketball team representing your school on television and the Internet during the NCAA Tournament. Newly released data from a study commissioned by Butler estimates that the school may have generated over $1 billion in publicity from the basketball team’s two runs to the national championship game in 2010 and 2011. The study, which was conducted by Borshoff, a public relations company, looked at the media value of the television, print media, and online media that the school received during the last two NCAA Tournaments.

Washington Assistant Chillious Charged With Violation — Fair Or Not?

Washington assistant coach Raphael Chillious now has a secondary NCAA violation attached to his name, a little gremlin that will follow him around for free for the rest of his coaching life. True, it doesn’t sound like much, but if you don’t think you did anything wrong, and you felt like you had some assurance from the NCAA that you wouldn’t be found guilty of anything, you wouldn’t want it on your record, either.

Chillious Didn't Intend Any Wrongdoing, But Still Took the Ding (image: UW)

The reason we’re debating whether or not the flick on Chillious is justifiable is an article by Todd Dybas at Sportspress Northwest, and it’s a piece that you should read in its entirety for its detail and the quotes from the principals. Here’s a quick version of the story:

Chillious let a Sports Illustrated reporter shadow him as part of a story about the recruiting process. While on a recruiting trip, during a conversation with an old friend, Chillious mentioned the name of a prospect he was in town to see. The reporter, sitting nearby, wrote the recruit’s name down.

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If You Thought Jimmer Had Range, Check Out Eric Valentin

Green Bay’s Eric Valentin is all of 5’4 and 143 pounds. He’s played in five of the Phoenix’s 19 games this season, and he contributes 1.2 points and 0.6 rebounds in his average of 3.4 minutes per game. And he might be destined for the record books.

Valentin has a knack for hitting half court shots. He read in a Guinness Book of World Records one day that the record for half court shots made in a minute was four. Then somebody hit six on YouTube. The video below shows what Valentin thinks of all that noise:

He used every bit of that 60 seconds, and it doesn’t look like any Guinness officials were around, but who cares? That’s eight half courters for Valentin, and we wouldn’t be surprised if he eventually topped out around 12.

So, here’s a piece of advice for Horizon League opponents: if you’re up against Green Bay in a close one and the Phoenix are lining up to run their last play for a shot to tie or win, even if they’re triggering from the other end of the floor…you might want to double-team the 5’4 guy.

Revisiting Mark Emmert’s Baseball Model Quote

Last week we wrote a piece outlining the reasons behind our opinion that NCAA President-Elect Mark Emmert had made a mistake in publicly supporting the MLB model of amateur player draft eligibility.  Emmert stated on a local radio show in Seattle that he believes that the NCAA should work with the NBA to enact a model mimicking baseball whereby high school players could choose to go pro immediately after their senior year, but those who went to college would have to remain there for three years.  As we clearly stated at the time, all of this discussion from the perspective of the NCAA is merely for the sake of argument because the NBA is going to do what the NBA thinks is best for itself, and if that means requiring one, two or fifteen years of “experience” out of high school before player entry, so be it.  The NCAA is virtually powerless in this regard.

Emmert's Top Job is to Protect This Brand

Nevertheless, taking the position that it is the mandate and duty of the NCAA President to act in the best interests of his organization, we outlined a number of reasons why Emmert is mistaken with the baseball solution.  Without delving into all of them again, the basic gist is that NCAA basketball needs marketable stars to support and enhance its product, recruiting will become even more difficult than it already is for coaches and schools, and players need the extra time to develop their games because so very few are actually ready to perform at a professional level immediately out of high school.   Response to this piece has been mixed.  Eamonn Brennan at ESPN.com seemed to understand the point we were making about Emmert and his role, but he expanded it to a more philosophical argument about whether forcing prospective NBAers into NCAA apprenticeships is “right.”   

Rush The Court is right to say that’s not in the best interest of college basketball fans, or coaches, or universities, all of whom benefit from the compulsory one-year apprenticeship currently being served by even the game’s most League-worthy talent. It’d be much better if all players had to stay for three years; we’d get John Wall for two more years! Awesome! Where do I sign? But that’s wrong. John Wall should be free to pursue his NBA career. He should have been free before he ever stepped foot on Kentucky’s campus. College, as they say, isn’t for everybody. In proposing a baseball-esque system for college hoops, Dr. Emmert did two things, both of them inadvertent: He made an argument against the well-being of college basketball, and for the professional freedom of college basketball’s prospective athletes. What it comes down to is: Which is more important?

We’ll answer.  From the perspective of Dr. Emmert as (soon-to-be) President of the NCAA and Supreme Chief Protector of the Game, the overall interests of the sport and its continued success trump the “right to work” component of a handful of high school basketball players each year.  His new job is to advocate for the NCAA as an entity, carefully weighing options to ultimately move the enterprise forward.  Since 96% of the NCAA’s operating budget comes from the NCAA Tournament (media rights + revenue), he needs to remember where his bread is buttered.  If he pushes for a baseball model that ultimately makes college basketball less interesting to casual fans and, therefore, the media, he’s not successfully performing his job.  This is a classic example of where academic arguments about what is right/wrong fail to properly mix with advocacy, and once again gives us pause about Emmert’s ivory tower worldview.

Webber Was Right: Elite College Athletes are Exploited

All that said, and as Kentucky blog A Sea of Blue expands upon, we certainly agree that the entire house of cards is exploitative from the player perspective.  Mitch Albom’s book Fab Five (People You Meet in Heaven) recounts a much-repeated incident where Michigan star Chris Webber found himself without enough money at the mall one day to purchase food.  As he walked by a sporting goods store and saw his own #4 UM jersey hanging in the window for sale, he became frustrated by the fact that seemingly everyone (Michigan, Steve Fisher, NCAA, Nike, etc.) other than himself was earning money as a result of his prodigious talents.  This anecdote seems humorous now in light of later findings that Webber took hundreds of thousands of dollars from agent Ed Martin during those years, but the story illustrates how one-sided the system remains, even nearly twenty years later.  Elite players are still generally no more than serfs for the one or two years they’re under the auspices of the NCAA (three years for football), contributing mightily to the billions of dollars of revenue they’re enabling while seeing very little in return.  This is unlikely to change. 

The larger point we’re trying to make here with respect to President-Elect Emmert is that it is not his job to suddenly make NCAA sports just, equitable and fair to the players whose talents are being exploited.  He will not be called upon to advocate for the Chris Webbers of the world because the Chris Webbers of the world didn’t put him in that position — rather, the college presidents did.  Therfore, his duty, much like the CEO of a major company, will be to protect the organization’s assets and push the enterprise forward so that in 2020, the NCAA can ask for two or three times as many billions of dollars in media licensing fees.  We’ve explained to him how he should go about getting there (hint: making things more like college baseball isn’t the answer); it’s up to him to decide whether to listen.