NCAA Game Analysis: Sweet Sixteen Friday

Posted by Bennet Hayes & Tommy Lemoine on March 27th, 2015


The Sweet Sixteen continues with four more compelling games tonight in Houston and Syracuse. Here are this evening’s previews.

#2 Gonzaga vs. #11 UCLA – South Region Sweet Sixteen (at Houston, TX) – 7:15 PM ET on CBS

A new year brings new players like Kyle Wiltjer, who no doubt will play a huge role in Friday's matchup. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

A new year brings new players like Kyle Wiltjer, who no doubt will play a huge role in Friday’s matchup. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Nobody forgets the tears. Nine years and three days ago, UCLA induced a very public display of emotion from Adam Morrison. The circumstances that led to the devastation were far from ordinary – the Bruins erased a 17-point second half deficit and scored the final 11 points to down the Zags and advance to the Elite Eight – but it’s the singular image of Morrison, keeled over on the floor with blue Gonzaga jersey pulled over his face, that has persisted longest in the memory banks of March. Now, almost a decade later, the two teams renew March pleasantries for the first time since Morrison’s college career came to that tearful end. The differences between this matchup and the last are too numerous to list, but there is one key similarity: Gonzaga again has a team widely perceived to be capable of winning a national title.

Mark Few’s team has made just one Sweet Sixteen since 2006, and that team (in 2009) needed only to beat a #12 and a #13 to get there. Needless to say, Gonzaga Final Four prospects haven’t been this bright since Morrison was in uniform. This Bulldog team is nearly as explosive as the ’06 bunch (emphasis on nearly: that team was #1 nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency), but points now originate from a wider variety of sources. Six Zags average at least eight points a game, and every Gonzaga regular owns an offensive rating in excess of 110. In the first two rounds, Gonzaga averaged 86.5 points per game and posted points per possession marks of 1.23 and 1.30 against North Dakota State and Iowa, respectively. Unlike in past years, the Zags we see this March look remarkably similar to the ones we watched all season. Good news for Mark Few; bad news for UCLA. Read the rest of this entry »

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Back and Forth: Great Xmas Week Moments

Posted by David Harten on December 24th, 2014

Each week, RTC columnist David Harten will profile some of the week’s biggest upcoming games by taking a look back at some relevant history relating to the match-ups. This is Back And Forth.

We’ve reached the point in the college basketball season when things are in transition. Non-conference games are nearing a close and conference play is about to begin. The Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu provides one last non-conference tournament to watch into the wee hours of the morning, and Christmas week has produced some solid games and individual performances over the years. As we all wind down the year with holiday obligations this week, let’s take a look at a few memorable college hoops moments of the yuletide season.

December 24, 2010 – Christmas Eve Brawl

Renardo Sidney’s career in Starkville was an absolute disaster. He had attitude problems throughout his two-plus years on campus and was a major factor in head coach Rick Stansbury eventually losing his job. On Christmas Eve of his debut season, he added to that list of problems. While he and his teammates were watching a game from the stands of the Diamond Head Classic, Sidney and Elgin Bailey decided to go after each other. It ended with both players serving suspensions and depicted Sidney as a hothead at that point. Bailey eventually transferred out of the program to Southeastern Louisiana, while Sidney lasted another painstaking year in Starkville before going undrafted in the 2012 NBA Draft.

December 25, 2012 – A Block Saves Arizona

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Back and Forth: Some of Maui’s Greatest Storylines

Posted by Judson Harten on November 24th, 2014

Each week, RTC columnist Judson Harten will profile some of the week’s biggest upcoming games by taking a look back at some relevant history relating to the match-ups. This is Back And Forth.

Before the days of ESPN “24 Hours of Hoops” marathon, the true, unofficial kickoff to the college basketball season could be summed up in one word: Maui. With each passing year, it seems as if there are more and more great tournaments with a number of excellent teams in them. But to most college basketball fans who came of age in the past two decades, there’s one tournament that stands out, the one that signifies that college basketball season is indeed really here: The EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Remember this guy? Back in 2002 then Indiana freshman phenom Bracey Wright, who is now playing professionally in Israel, exploded in Maui. (el Periodico/ Angel de Castro)

Remember this guy? Back in 2002, Indiana freshman phenom Bracey Wright, who is now playing professionally in Israel, exploded in Maui. (el Periodico/ Angel de Castro)

From its humble beginnings with NAIA school Chaminade’s titanic upset of #1 Virginia in 1984 to Duke’s five titles in five tries, from Ball State’s Cinderella run to the title game in 2001 to the dominant performances of future National Champions in 2004 (North Carolina) and 2010 (UConn), there’s always something memorable from the action taking place in the Lahaina Civic Center.

Let’s look back on some of the best runs in Maui, shall we? Read the rest of this entry »

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Morning Five: 07.26.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 26th, 2013


  1. It seems like just yesterday that Adam Morrison was engaged in a nightly duel with J.J. Redick before exiting the NCAA Tournament crying. The years since have not been much kinder to Morrison than the Internet was after his infamous exit. Now it appears that Morrison will be returning to his roots at Gonzaga where he will serve as a student assistant coach. Morrison may not be the most accomplished former player serving as an assistant coach, but he might be the most iconic given his recent fame and ridiculous mustache. This hiring will certainly make headlines, but we remain skeptical as to whether it will have any impact on Gonzaga or whether Morrison will ever become a legitimate coach, but it should be an interesting experiment.
  2. With all of the news swirling around the Rutgers program in the past few months we have grown kind of numb to much that comes out of the campus, but the news that new athletic director Julie Hermann revealed in her official school biography that she is a lesbian (the very last sentence) caught our attention. Now her sexual preference is none of our business and we do not particularly care, but we were surprised by the amount of attention the announcement has received. Ideally, we as I society would one day progress to a point where Hermann’s sexual orientation is not even a story. We all know she had plenty of other things going on at Rutgers to worry about and this should not be one of them.
  3. If you are looking for another reason to visit Las Vegas we have found one. Well at least for the next three years. Beginning this December 21 the MGM Grand will host a doubleheader for the next three years. This year’s event will feature Marquette against New Mexico and Oklahoma State against Colorado and will be broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN2 respectively with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society via Coaches vs Cancer. Outside of match-ups, which should be interesting we are somewhat surprised to see another big college basketball event being held in a casino (we have been to the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic at Mohegan Sun, which is not even in the same league as any of the Vegas casinos). If you are interested in attending any of the games, tickets are already available.
  4. We are a little less than four months away from the start of college basketball season, which means that it is time to start familiarizing with the incoming and returning players for various teams. If you are still struggling to figure out who is going to be good and bad this year (outside of the obvious teams from last season), has a decent recap of which teams are going to be vastly improved this season and which teams are going to be taking a step back. Outside of a few picks the predictions are not particularly revelatory, but Myron Medcalf and Jason King do a solid job of explaining their rationale and might even remind you of significant arrivals and departures since last season before we start getting flooded with college basketball previews.
  5. Both the NCAA and North Carolina may not be taking the academic fraud scandal at the school as seriously as we would like, but it appears that the White House is taking the matter a little more seriously. Sort of. A new petition was created asking President Obama to investigate the academic fraud at UNC because the school receives federal funds. We are not sure which fans (Duke or North Carolina State are our best guesses) created this and the lack of response so far speaks volumes to how ridiculous the idea is in theory, but it would be amusing at some level if this actually got enough votes to merit an actual response from the White House (aside from the fact that it would be a waste of the government’s time to address this issue when there are more pressing concerns facing our country.
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The Other 26: This Is Not Mark Few’s Best Team… Yet

Posted by IRenko on February 16th, 2013

I. Renko is an RTC columnist. He will kick off each weekend during the season with his analysis of the 26 other non-power conferences. Follow him on Twitter @IRenkoHoops.

After a 17-point win at St. Mary’s on Thursday night pushed Gonzaga’s record to 24-2 and cleared its biggest hurdle to a regular season record tainted with just two losses, some are wondering whether this is the best team that Mark Few has put together in his 14 years at the helm. It’s a fair question, given the way they’re playing. But the best ever? Sure, not since Adam Morrison was dragged off the court after a heartbreaking loss to UCLA ended his college career, have the Zags had a player with the combination of star power, All-American credentials, and curious hairstyle that Kelly Olynyk has brought this year. And, true, moreso than the Morrison-led team of 2006, this squad is a well-balanced offensive machine, with a multitude of frontcourt and backcourt options. They proved that on Thursday, when Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell, who have deferred most of the scoring load this year to Olynyk and Elias Harris, dropped a combined 38 points on St. Mary’s.

This Gonzaga Team is Good, But Not Mark Few’s Best … Yet (James Snook / USA TODAY Sports)

This Gonzaga Team is Good, But Not Mark Few’s Best … Yet (James Snook / USA TODAY Sports)

But Few’s best team ever? They have a ways to go before they can claim such an honor. Take, for example, the 2004 team, which also dropped just two contests heading into the NCAA Tournament.  That squad was led by All-American senior guard Blake Stepp, and like Olynyk, he had lots of help. Junior Ronny Turiaf, sophomore Morrison, and senior Cory Violette shared the scoring load, with all four players averaging in double-digits. They coasted through league play undefeated, never winning a game by less than double digits, and ended the season on a 20-game win streak en route to a 2 seed in the Tournament, Gonzaga’s best ever. Their two pre-Tournament losses were to St. Joe’s and Stanford, both of which went on to earn 1 seeds that year. By contrast, this year’s Gonzaga team lost to Illinois, a bubble team, at home by 11 points.

Of course, this year’s squad could prove itself a superior to the 2004 team — or any team that Few has coached — if it can get past the Sweet Sixteen. Since Gonzaga burst onto the college hoops scene 14 years ago with a Cinderella run to the Elite Eight, they’ve yet to get reach the brink of a Final Four, much less a Final Four itself. The ballyhooed ’04 squad was upset by 10th-seeded Nevada in the second round, the ’05 team squandered a 3 seed with a second round loss to Texas Tech, and the ’06 Zags memorably collapsed against UCLA in the Sweet Sixteen (a game to which one cannot refer without remarking that it was perhaps the finest moment of Gus Johnson’s illustrious career). This Gonzaga team stacks up well with those predecessors, but unless it breaks through to the second game of the second weekend, it won’t prove to be their clear superior.

What’s undisputed, however, is that the Zags have been dominant enough to remain at the top of this year’s Top 10.  On to that, our Honor Roll, and this week’s games to watch  . . .

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Re-Drafting the NBA Draft: Top 10 Players From Recent Years

Posted by EJacoby on June 25th, 2012

The 2012 NBA Draft takes place this Thursday, June 28 in Newark, and now that the NBA Finals has come to an early conclusion (just five games), New Jersey becomes the center of the basketball universe. No other professional sports amateur draft can have as much immediate impact as the NBA’s, witnessed by Oklahoma City’s rise to prominence with a core consisting of four first-round picks from the previous five years. While we await Thursday’s selections, the words ‘upside’ and ‘potential’ run rampant, as teams are selecting from a pool filled with unrefined prospects. Lottery picks (top 14 selections) are mainly underclassmen who scouts hope evolve into long term superstars, and that’s why the draft presents so many early busts and late sleepers that evaluators miss out on. The NBA Draft is more art than science, and that is no more evident than when you look back at many of the selections made in previous drafts.

After slipping on draft night, Tony Parker has led the Spurs to multiple championships (AP Photo)

Today we take a look at four recent NBA Drafts to give you a clear idea of how difficult it is to nail the top picks. We wanted to choose mostly older drafts whose players’ careers have longer sample sizes to evaluate, but also included a more recent draft since the implementation of the current ‘one-and-done’ rule that disallows high school players from the pool. Here are our revised top 10 picks from 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2006, with each player’s original selection in parentheses. Who ended up becoming the best players from drafts of the 2000s, and where were they selected?


  1. Tony Parker (28, San Antonio)
  2. Pau Gasol (3, Memphis)
  3. Joe Johnson (10, Boston)
  4. Zach Randolph (19, Portland)
  5. Gilbert Arenas (31, Golden State)
  6. Gerald Wallace (25, Sacramento)
  7. Jason Richardson (5, Golden State)
  8. Tyson Chandler (2, LA Clippers)
  9. Shane Battier (6, Memphis)
  10. Richard Jefferson (13, Houston)

A fairly strong draft, 2001 is also scarred by the fact that #1 overall pick Kwame Brown was an enormous bust. Brown, selected first by Michael Jordan out of high school, is a great example of why it’s risky to draft young, unproven bigs. But that was also during the era when high school players were eligible for the draft, which is no longer the case today. Even though the current ‘one-and-done’ rule makes it difficult to assess young prospects, at least we get a full season to watch players compete at the highest level. The 2001 draft was full of quality sleepers late in the draft, highlighted by the three-time All-Star, Arenas, and three-time NBA champion and four-time All-Star, Parker, both falling past pick #27. Parker likely fell because he was such a young, foreign player; yet Gasol was a similar prospect who scouts nailed with the #3 overall selection. The 2001 draft proves how difficult it is to differentiate players of varying positions, ages, and levels of play.

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Morning Five: 11.23.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 23rd, 2011

  1. Arkansas will have to learn to adjust to life without Marshawn Powell this season after the school announced that the junior would be out for the rest of the season as a MRI of his knee revealed torn ligaments, which will require surgery with an expected return to play in six to eight months. Powell injured his knee during a practice last Thursday, but the extent of the damage was not known until the MRI was performed on Sunday. The loss of Powell is a huge blow for the Razorbacks who are full of young players and could have used Powell’s presence inside and veteran leadership against a SEC that looks much stronger than it has in recent years despite some early losses.
  2. Steve Lavin opted to sit out last night’s game against St. Francis, which St. John’s won, as he adjusts to a modified schedule after his prostate cancer surgery on October 6. According to the press release Lavin is trying to “enhance his stamina and energy level” and this does not appear to be a complication from the surgery, which is a good thing because complications are a not uncommon occurrence. Instead, it appears that Lavin was simply exhausted from coaching back-to-back games and then going on the road for recruiting the following two days. The school has not released any information on when Lavin will return to the sideline, but from the information given in the press release we expect to see Lavin back fairly soon. If Lavin does not return for Saturday’s game against Northeastern, we would definitely expect to see him back for next Thursday’s game at Kentucky although he might want to sit that one out.
  3. Over the past few weeks Luke Winn has been focusing on defense, but this weekend he took a break to check out some of the most talented scorers in the nation: J’Covan Brown, John Jenkins, and Jared Cunningham. By now you probably know what happened with each player’s performance and the outcome of the game, but Winn provides an interesting look into how each player’s game affected his team and the outcome of the game. Since most of us were either at games over the weekend or flipping back and forth between games from home Winn’s analysis, which isn’t the typical number-heavy advanced metric stuff he has become known for recently, provides a good insight into what actually happened at the Izod Center and what to expect from these three and their teams this season.
  4. Over the past few days we have speculated on how Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim would react to the media, particularly ESPN, with the ongoing Bernie Fine investigation. At a press conference yesterday morning for the Preseason NIT Boeheim threatened to leave if anybody asked a non-basketball (read: Fine-related) question before briefly discussing the matter in a much more measured tone than he had last Thursday night. Later in the day, Boeheim went on-camera with ESPN’s Andy Katz to discuss the Fine investigation, which is surprising to us because he very easily could have held a grudge against ESPN for the way that they handled the report. So basically, nothing has changed–Boeheim remains cantankerous, but is always willing to talk.
  5. The NBA may never work out for Adam Morrison, but the former Gonzaga star appears to have had a rebirth of sorts with the NBA lockout and his move to Serbia. While Morrison still isn’t playing at the level that many expected him to be at coming out of college he is showing signs of becoming the player he used to be. Obviously, this is against vastly inferior competition, but it is nice to see Morrison playing some quality basketball and it is interesting to read about the struggles that Morrison has gone through off the court since he left Gonzaga.
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20 Questions: Why Can’t Gonzaga Make Another Serious Run in the NCAA Tournament?

Posted by nvr1983 on November 9th, 2011

Question: Why Can’t Gonzaga Make Another Serious Run in the NCAA Tournament?

It seems like a strange question to ask. Every year ESPN hypes up Gonzaga as a Cinderella team, but a strange thing happened between 1999 and 2011–the Bulldogs failed to advance past the Sweet Sixteen. While the school has had its share of stars in the intervening 12 seasons (Adam Morrison being the most notable) much of its NCAA Tournament reputation is built on the work of Casey Cavalry from the 1999 NCAA Tournament. It is a fact that lost is lost on many casual college basketball fans and college basketball analysts, who at best choose to ignore it to help build a compelling narrative. Much like Duke has been made out to be the symbol of all things right in college basketball by certain media outlets there has been a tendency by many in the media to paint Gonzaga as the perennial Cinderella that always makes a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. That may make for a nice story line and the video of Cavalry flying in to tip in the game-winner against Florida makes for a nice clip (as well as creating the name for the best Gonzaga blog out there), but recently they have been surpassed by Butler as the mid-major du jour. The question is what happened to Gonzaga and what can it do to get back to the Elite Eight and beyond?

Few Has Racked Up Regular Season Accolades, But Not In The Postseason Yet

To start off, we should point out that Gonzaga has been far from a total failure during the Mark Few era, which also happens to coincide with the stretch where Gonzaga has been unable to get beyond the Sweet Sixteen, a fact that is probably not lost on Gonzaga fans. During his 12 seasons as head coach at Gonzaga, Few has compiled a 315-83 record (79.1%, which is 6th all-time in Division I and 2nd among active coaches trailing just Roy Williams) while winning the West Coast Conference regular season title 11 consecutive years and making the NCAA Tournament every season he has been a head coach. However, that success has not translated to the NCAA Tournament where after two consecutive trips to the Sweet Sixteen in his first two years as head coach Few has only been able to guide the Bulldogs out of the opening weekend two out of ten seasons including three years where they lost in the opening round.

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Who’s Got Next? Huge Halloween Commitments, More In the Works…

Posted by Josh Paunil on November 2nd, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are at the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing or different things you’d like to see, please let us know at

Lead Story: Arizona Secures Top 2012 Recruiting Class

Next Year These Heads Will Be Of Gabe York, Brandon Ashley, Grant Jerrett And Kaleb Tarczewski (C. Morrison/US Presswire)

Tarczewski Takes To Tucson. This is something I’m not used to, this is something you aren’t used to, this is something no one on the recruiting circuit  is used to. For the first time in four years, a head coach has assembled a downright dirty collection of talent into one recruiting class and his name isn’t John Calipari. Arizona head coach Sean Miller has beautifully crafted his 2012 recruiting class so it will resemble North Carolina’s group of big men this year when center Kaleb Tarczewski committed to Arizona pm Monday. Not only do the Wildcats have commitments from three of the top nine recruits in the senior class [according to ESPN] in addition to a top shooting guard in Gabe York, but they have two of the top three power forwards between Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett and the second best center in Tarczewski. This front court talent is scary considering the versatility and skill level of the players. If Miller doesn’t want to sit one of his star recruits, he could possibly slide Ashley to small forward since he’s a combo forward who likes playing on the wing as well. All of these big guys can move and get up and down the court and can be game-changers in so many ways. Here’s another thing to think about, the Wildcats got two of the top guards in the Class of 2011 with point guard Josiah Turner (#13) and shooting guard Nick Johnson (#28) and both players will definitely be staying longer than one year. I’m not going to go around and start predicting 2013 NCAA tournament Final Four teams, but I wouldn’t bet against Arizona.

What They’re Saying

  • Senior standout Dominic Artis on committing to Oregon: “I really thought it was the best fit style-of-play wise after watching practice and I liked the athletes that are already in the program. [Class of 2011 shooting guard] Jabari [Brown] and I have been together since fourth or fifth grade. Him being there sure didn’t hurt. It gave me a nice comfort level and someone I could relate to.”
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Morning Five: 09.08.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 8th, 2011

  1. This Texas A&M to the SEC thing has certainly gotten interesting.  Despite previous assurances from the Big 12 that none of its ten institutions would create a legal barrier to TAMU leaving the conference, Baylor, perhaps seeing the CUSA or WAC writing on the wall, has other thoughts in mind.  Mike DeCourcy is correct in writing that Big 12 schools (and really, all of the schools around the country) are being extremely shortsighted in their our-time, right-now mentality, but the SEC has been clear in that it will only take a school into its league if it is free and clear of any legal liabilities.  Texas A&M was all set to join the SEC on Wednesday, but Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe stated in an email to the SEC on Tuesday night that previous conversations in fact only referred to conference obligations, and that individual schools would still need to waive their rights in order for A&M to move to the new league. Apparently eight of the nine remaining conference members, with Oklahoma as the lone exception, are currently unwilling to waive their rights. “We are being held hostage right now,” TAMU president R. Bowen Loftin said on Wednesday.  So what next?  Our best guess is that Texas A&M will negotiate some kind of settlement agreement with Baylor that will ultimately destroy the Big 12, but the truth is that nobody really knows at that point.
  2. Washington announced that its junior point guard and former McDonald’s All-American, Abdul Gaddy, has been cleared by his doctors to go 100% back on the court in practices.  The much-maligned player tore his ACL on January 4 last season during a Husky practice, and after 13 games at 21 MPG, he appeared to be slowly adjusting to his role as a pass-first point guard on a deep and athletic Washington team.  His 3.1 assist to one turnover ratio was very promising, though, on the heels of a freshman season where it was much closer to even (1.3 to 1).  Lorenzo Romar’s team lost a huge amount of its production from last season’s NCAA Third Round squad, but big things are expected from sophomores CJ Wilcox and Terrence Ross so the Huskies will need Gaddy at full strength to get them the ball on the wings in the right spots.  Most every analyst believes that the 19-year old Gaddy has some talent, his problem has been simply a matter of harnessing it.
  3. Yesterday Luke Winn brought us a list of the top ten most efficient guards of the so-called ‘efficiency era.’  Today he moves on to the wings.  If you are in the business of guessing who the top players are in the last decade from an efficiency standpoint, you probably won’t do a lot better than JJ Redick, Adam Morrison and Brandon Roy in 2005-06 season.  These three players in that single year represent three of the top five seasons from the wing in the last ten years — perhaps you’re not surprised by Redick and Morrison as a college hoops fan, but Roy’s 2006-07 NBA ROY season perhaps was a clue to just how good he was in college too.
  4. Unfortunate news from the WCC, but Santa Clara senior star Marc Trasolini will miss his senior season after tearing his ACL in an exhibition game in his hometown, Vancouver, British Columbia, on Tuesday night.  He came down awkwardly just a mere two minutes into the game and doctors diagnosed his injury soon thereafter.  Trasolini was the second leading returning scorer for the Broncos at 13/6 and his absence in 2011-12 definitely puts a crimp in plans for Kerry Keating’s team to make a run at Gonzaga and St. Mary’s in the league next season.
  5. There’s been a lot of discussion about how schools might try to game the APR/930 system now that they can actually lose scholarships, and eventually, postseason opportunities, as a result.  This article from the off-the-beaten-path of the Dakotas suggests that even at that level, schools might use their last few scholarships to load up on high GPA students in order to make sure they reach the written threshold.  As South Dakota head coach Dave Boots states, “all three of the [international] kids that we signed are really good students.”   Mid-major games but big-time grades — is that what we’re heading toward?  Rest assured that if a marginal couple of D-I schools like South Dakota and South Dakota State are already doing this, the power conference schools have institutionalized it.  As we wrote several weeks ago, this is not a good thing.
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