SEC Weekly Five: 07.27.12 Edition

Posted by EMoyer on July 27th, 2012

  1. Florida moved to the top of the early rankings charts as the Gators scored a verbal commitment from Chris Walker (No. 6 on the Rivals 150), joining his AAU teammate, Kasey Hill (No. 7). Walker declared, “Together we will be the best duo in college and we will win a national championship. You heard it here first.” Walker is the highest rated player on the Rivals 150 list to have already given a verbal commitment. Walker picked the Gators over Louisville, Kansas, Syracuse, Ohio State and Baylor.
  2. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis came out this week in support of an effort to honor the 50-year anniversary of a historic contest between Mississippi State and Loyola (Chicago). The two played at Michigan State’s Jenison Field House in a 1963 NCAA tournament Mideast Regional semifinal game that holds civil rights significance because “Mississippi State’s all-white squad defied a court injunction, sneaking out of the state to East Lansing to face a Loyola team with four black starters.” Hollis said, “The historical significance of that game needs to be recognized. I don’t think a lot of people in Michigan are aware that game was played there and we want to make sure that story is told.”
  3. ESPN’s Summer Shootaround series hit the SEC this week and Doug Gottlieb’s preseason power rankings might raise a few eyebrows. He did not place the defending national champions, Kentucky, atop his list, but rather one of the league’s newbies, Missouri, was there. Among his reasons, “[Phil] Pressey should start the season as the best point guard in the SEC, so his return is huge for Mizzou…Alex Oriakhi should be far better outside of the toxic environment of last season’s Connecticut Huskies club, and he also provides championship experience…and the rabid Missouri fan base shows up consistently, the Tigers will be close to unbeatable at home.”
  4. CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish published a story on Tuesday about how next year’s SEC schedules were changed from what was discussed in early June. In his account, he wrote, “”I got an email from the SEC office, and my four [home-and-home] opponents … were changed,” one SEC coach told CBSSports.com. “There was no discussion or phone call. I just got an email of our league schedule, and the league schedule wasn’t the league schedule they told me I’d have last month. It’s crazy.” Parrish went on to write, “To help you better understand exactly what happened, consider that Vanderbilt was supposed to have Tennessee as its constant rival and Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri and Ole Miss as its home-and-home opponents, but sources told CBSSports.com that Vanderbilt now has Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas and Auburn as its home-and-home opponents. Meantime, Ole Miss was supposed to have Mississippi State as its constant rival and Auburn, Florida, Vanderbilt and Arkansas as its home-and-home opponents, but sources told CBSSports.com that Ole Miss now has Auburn, Tennessee, Missouri and Texas A&M as its home-and-home opponents. Sources said Georgia’s schedule got harder. Sources said Alabama’s schedule got easier.”
  5. Two SEC Tiger schools were involved in a coaching change recently as Missouri’s Ryan Miller left Frank Haith’s staff after only two months to join Tony Barbee’s staff at Auburn. Miller is the younger brother of Miami Heat forward Mike Miller and worked with Barbee as the video coordinator at Memphis while Barbee was an assistant under John Calipari. According to the CBSSports.com report, “Calipari pushed hard for Miller to join Barbee down in Auburn, where he would also receive a significant pay raise.”
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SEC Transition Basketball: Missouri Tigers

Posted by EMoyer on July 16th, 2012

It’s hot out there, and to many of us, college basketball is the last thing on our minds. But here at the SEC Microsite, we’re going to be rolling out mid-summer resets of each of the (now) 14 basketball programs in our league. We’re calling it Transition Basketball, and you can expect we’ll cover three or four teams a week until we’re done. By that time, we’ll actually start to be turning the slight corner into the fall, and from there it’s a smooth slope down to Midnight Madness in mid-October. Today’s update: Missouri.

State of the Program

The Tigers come to the SEC off a 30-5 season and a Big 12 Tournament title. Only two players who saw the court during any of the 2011-12 season return, but this team features a veteran roster  loaded with transfers from high-level Division I programs. Guards Michael Dixon, Jr., and Phil Pressey headline one of the top returning backcourts in all the land. Dixon excelled in a reserve role last season, averaging 13.5 points per game despite never starting. No player in the country, including No.4 NBA Draft selection Dion Waiters, averaged as many points per game off the bench. Pressey experienced no “sophomore slump” as he set the school’s single-season assist record and became a Bob Cousy Award finalist.

Bowers is Back Along With a Host of New Players for Missouri

Senior Laurence Bowers returns to the active roster after sitting out last season because of a torn ACL. In his prior season on the court, he averaged more than 11 points and six rebounds and close to two blocks per game. He ranks fourth on the school’s all-time blocks list and needs just 27 to move in the second spot.

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Rough Offseason Has UConn Reeling, But Team Remains Hopeful in 2012-13

Posted by EJacoby on June 21st, 2012

Breaking news surfaced on Wednesday when the NCAA released its Academic Progress Report (APR) for all Division I athletic programs, and a whopping 10 men’s basketball teams are now banned from the 2012-13 NCAA Tournament after failing to reach the required APR average score of 900 over the last four years. The biggest name on the list, and the only power conference school to ever receive a postseason APR ban, is Connecticut, which recorded a four-year score of 889. But none of this was news to the Huskies, a school which had already lost an appeal this offseason for inclusion. The postseason ban is just one of many pieces of bad news that UConn has received this offseason, which has put the future of UConn basketball in serious doubt. Your 2011 National Champions have struggled on and off the court since that wild run two springs ago sparked by Kemba Walker and company. Transfers, violations, firings, underperformance, and bans have dominated the news cycle around Storrs and 70-year-old future Hall of Fame head coach Jim Calhoun remains on the fence about coaching his team for much longer. Where does UConn go from here, and what can we expect from the Huskies on the court next season?

Jim Calhoun’s future remains in doubt, but the Hall of Fame coach doesn’t want to leave the program in chaos (AP Photo)

Connecticut basketball has been nothing short of a disaster since hauling the National Championship trophy two seasons ago. While that year’s historic run of 11 straight postseason wins is forever engrained in Storrs lore and perhaps fans can accept a few years’ grace period after winning a title, it’s still hard to believe how quickly things have fallen. UConn entered 2011-12 as the Big East preseason favorites but struggled to a 20-14 finish, playing through multiple suspensions and the extended absence of Calhoun due to rules violations and health reasons. The team lost its first round NCAA Tournament game to Iowa State in convincing fashion, and things have only gotten worse since that game in March. Top talents Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond both declared for the NBA Draft, and forwards Roscoe Smith, Michael Bradley, and Alex Oriakhi all transferred out of the program, leaving major holes in the roster. The team is ineligible for both the 2013 Big East and NCAA Tournaments after poor academic performances in the past four years. Recruiting has been understandably difficult, as the school remains a questionable short term destination for prospects. There’s a brand new athletic director (Warde Manuel) on campus who has yet to implement his long-term strategy. And perhaps most importantly, Calhoun remains uncommitted to his future on campus. The 70-year-old has two more years left on his contract and certainly does not want to leave the program in chaos, but the future Hall of Famer will probably not stick around much longer no matter what situation the team is in.

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Big East Weekly Five: 05.01.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on May 1st, 2012

  1. Coaching changes, along with transfers and recruiting, typically round out the top three themes of most college basketball off-seasons. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. While transfers and recruiting have been prevalent, it has been a slow couple of years in the coaching change department for the Big East. In fact, Ed Cooley taking over at Providence last year represents the lone men’s basketball head coaching change the conference has undergone during that time. Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun has not made it official publicly but, assuming his health permits, it would be a surprise at this point not to see him back. That would leave the conference with no changes at the top this year. Not only do all of the current coaches appear to be secure at the moment but no athletic director would fire a head coach of a high-profile basketball program in late April or early May, right Seth Greenberg? Given this stability, and the name involved, it became a pretty big story when former Louisville assistant Richard Pitino was hired away from his father’s Louisville staff by Florida International University to be their head coach.  To fill the void left by the younger Pitino’s departure, head coach and proud papa Rick Pitino hired former Xavier assistant Kareem Richardson as an assistant coach. Richardson spent one year on Chris Mack’s staff following three years as an assistant at Drake.
  2. St. John’s and Steve Lavin continued their spring recruiting bonanza this week while at the same time scoring their second re-commitment of the year when 6’4” shooting guard Darrick Wood opted once again for the Red Storm. Wood originally signed with St. John’s as a member of the 2011 class, but headed back to Bridgton (ME) Academy and re-opened his recruitment after being found academically ineligible to play in college.  Recent St. John’s re-commit, JaKarr Sampson, followed a similar path. Joining Wood and Sampson thus far in Steve Lavin’s 2012 haul are Monroe (Junior) College teammates: forward/center Orlando Center and guard Marco Bourgault, Texas A&M transfer guard Jamal Branch, sharp-shooting Harvard transfer Max Hooper and high school guard Felix Balamou.  As presently constituted, St. John’s has one remaining scholarship available for next year’s roster.
  3. Seemingly every other minute these days we read about another player transferring, but it was real news when Michael Gbinije, who played last season at Duke, announced he was heading to Syracuse. Jim Boeheim has coached the Orange for 36 years and Gbinije represents just the sixth player to transfer in from a four-year college. A 6’7” guard/forward, Gbinije played in 19 games for the Blue Devils averaging 1.7 points and 5.8 minutes per contest. He was a highly rated class of 2011 recruit, ranked 29th by ESPN.com and 35th by Rivals.com, coming out of Virginia’s Benedictine High School. Interestingly once Gbinije is able to suit up for Syracuse in 2013-14 after sitting out next season under NCAA transfer rules he will have pulled off another rare feat by transferring within the same conference given that Syracuse will be part of the ACC by that time.
  4. There are so many wonderful and encouraging aspects to today’s technology. The subject matter of this item is not an example one of them. Once it became public that one of the more high-profile transfers of this off-season, Connecticut forward Alex Oriakhi, was headed to Missouri he received a number of profane, violent and hate-filled texts and tweets. Messages not only from bitter Connecticut fans but also from schools that lost out on Oriakhi as a transfer. In one instance, as reported by Yahoo! Sports, Oriakhi shared a series of texts he received from one particularly barbaric, and spelling-challenged, Connecticut fan. Unfortunately the overall ignorance level and narrow-mindedness of people has not declined in-kind as technology has advanced. It is clear that the term smartphone is more indicative of the device as opposed to many of its owners. #timetowakeuppeople
  5. Marquette’s roster for next season now has a couple of late openings. Following the release of 2012 signee Aaron Durley from his letter of intent it was reported that sophomore forward Jamail Jones will transfer out of the program. Durley, a 6’10” center from Fort Bend Bush High School in Texas who signed with the Golden Eagles in November has already verbally committed to Texas Christian University. The 6’6” Jones averaged 1.5 points and 1.2 rebounds per game in his two years with Marquette. Arizona State transfer and last year’s leading scorer, Trent Lockett, is emerging as a high priority to fill one of Buzz Williams’ open spots. Williams also has the ‘Now Hiring’ sign up on his door as he lost his associate head coach, Tony Benford, who was hired last week to be the head coach at North Texas.
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Big East Weekly Five: 04.24.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on April 24th, 2012

  1. With three weeks having passed since Kentucky snipped the nets in victory we here at RTC Big East are officially in withdrawal and already cannot wait until the 2012-13 season tips off.  However, we understand that things tend to slow down a bit over the summer months and will just have to cope. That said there will continue to be plenty to discuss from week-to-week so we are happy to introduce the Big East Weekly Five.  Think of it as the Morning Five’s lazy cousin. You know, that cousin who doesn’t show up as much as some of the other relatives, but always seems to grace you with his presence if there is free beer?  The Weekly Five will continue throughout the summer and its goal is to provide similar content as the Big East Morning Fives that you have come know and cherish. In keeping with the desire of many to slim down for summer, there will just be less of us to love.  Still, just because we are getting lean and mean does not mean cutting back on the Fresca!
  2. Recruiting is the name of the game in the spring and summer, especially if you are St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin who coming into the weekend had five open scholarships for next year burning a hole in his pocket. What a difference a few days makes as Lavin and St. John’s scored three solid commitments when Harvard transfer Max Hooper joined Monroe (junior) College teammates Marco Bourgault and Orlando Sanchez in pledging for the Red Storm. All three players were on the Queens campus over the weekend — Lavin just needed to seal the deal. Bourgault and Hooper are shooters who will be tasked to help St. John’s stretch the floor with their ability to hit it from deep. The 6’6” Bourgault averaged 10.9 points per game for Monroe and made 42% of his three-point attempts. Hooper, also 6’6”, appeared in just two games while at Harvard and did not make the only shot he attempted. Fittingly both shooters will have three years of eligibility, although Hooper will have to first sit out a season under NCAA transfer rules. The 6’9″ Sanchez may represent Lavin’s biggest coup of the week as he fought off Big East rival Providence and the always persistent Ed Cooley in a battle for the big man. Sanchez will have two years of eligibility remaining.
  3. Seton Hall appears to have filled the significant void vacated by graduating star point guard Jordan Theodore as Texas transfer and Seton Hall Prep alum Sterling Gibbs will be coming home to suit up for the Pirates. The addition of Gibbs solidifies Seton Hall’s lead guard position, but the real kicker for head coachKevin Willard is that he may have Gibbs at the controls this coming season. Gibbs has applied for a hardship waiver that, if granted, would allow him to avoid sitting out next season per normal NCAA transfer rules.  The basis for the hardship waiver request is reported to be a family member’s illness. In Gibbs’ freshman season in Austin, he played in 30 games averaging 2.6 points and 0.7 assists in 7.5 minutes per game for the Longhorns.
  4. While players appear to be headed to St. John’s in droves, the exit door at Connecticut is getting an intense workout. Faced with the reality of not being allowed to play in next season’s Big East and NCAA Tournaments due to his program’s failure to meet NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) standards, sophomore forward Roscoe Smith became the latest to leave the program when he indicated he will transfer over the weekend. Smith, who averaged 4.4 points and 3.4 rebounds in 18.2 minutes per game this past season, joins fellow transfers Alex Oriakhi, who has since committed to Missouri, and Michael Bradley, along with Andre Drummond and Jeremy Lamb who declared for the NBA Draft.  Bradley, however, may ultimately opt to remain in Storrs as his primary reason for requesting a release from his scholarship is to explore options around moving closer to his ill grandmother.  The 6’10″ forward was scheduled to meet head coachJim Calhoun yesterday to discuss his future.
  5. The NCAA defended its position on Academic Progress Rate (APR) guidelines when it responded to a letter written by six members of Connecticut’s legislature that said banning the Huskies from NCAA Tournament play next year represented too harsh a penalty. The crux of the letter echoed the university’s appeal-losing position, stating that the APR calculations are not fair because they incorporate performance dating back four years when no one on the current roster was on the team. NCAA spokesman Bob Williams countered that the standards have been in place since 2006 and Connecticut knew the standard by which they and all other schools and teams were being measured.

You May Not Have College Hoops For Awhile, But You Can Always Have Fresca

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Most Impactful Incoming Transfers For Next Season

Posted by EJacoby on April 18th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

As most of the top high school recruits have signed their letters of intent and the NBA Draft early entries finish piling up (official deadline: April 29), we’re starting to get a much clearer picture of next season’s rosters. But the other huge factor to consider is the transfer ‘market,’ in which hundreds of players decide to change schools every offseason. Always an unaccounted-for variable in recruiting, certain transfers can drastically change programs. The majority of names on the transfer list each season are players that won’t leave significant dents in a program (coming or going), but there are always some notable departures. Here we lay out the transfers that will have the most significant impact for next season. In that context, this list only includes top incoming players that will be eligible in 2012-13. Most players must sit out for a full year after a transfer, so many of these guys have not been in the news for over a year. We haven’t forgotten about them, and neither should you.

Alex Oriakhi Won a National Title at UConn and Gets to Play Next Season for Missouri (Getty Images/R. Martinez)

INCOMING – These players will be eligible next season for their new teams.

  • Jared Swopshire, Northwestern – He’s taking advantage of the ‘graduate program’ rule in which he can play immediately next season after transferring this offseason, thanks to having graduated from his former school (Louisville) with a year of basketball eligibility still remaining. Despite limited playing time at Louisville, Swopshire is a versatile and talented forward that will look to replace the departed star forward John Shurna and lead Northwestern to its first-ever NCAA Tournament, which is still possible with several returning starters.
  • Alex Oriakhi, Missouri – And the run of Missouri Tigers begins. Oriakhi is eligible immediately next season for a different kink in the rules (UConn being postseason-ineligible), and he fills an important role as a big man for a talented team that lacks size. Laurence Bowers returns from injury next season and Oriakhi steps in as another experienced forward for Mizzou.
  • Jabari Brown, Missouri – This top 20 recruit left Oregon and will be a huge get for Mizzou. The very talented 6’5” guard Brown will help replace the scoring void of departed shooter Marcus Denmon.
  • Earnest Ross, Missouri – Another 6’5” guard, Ross was the leading scorer at Auburn two seasons ago and will step in as another talented scorer for Frank Haith’s Tigers. He can help replace another departed star in Kim English.
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Morning Five: 04.16.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 16th, 2012

  1. Even though there were a handful of players who could be considered potential early entry candidates after the April 10 soft deadline and before the April 29 hard deadline most of them were considered sure things to declare for the NBA Draft. Perhaps the most significant of those players who could have been realistically considered as being on the fence was Bradley Beal. On Friday, the Florida freshman ended any speculation as he announced that he would be declaring for the NBA Draft. Beal’s departure adds to the extra space in the once crowded Gator backcourt, but unlike some other individuals there really is no addition by subtraction as the Gator’s will miss Beal’s dynamic mix of talent. As for Beal, expect to see him gone in the first ten picks and more likely in the top five depending on what order teams are drafting in.
  2. The exodus from Storrs continued late last week as Alex Oriakhi announced that he would be transferring to Missouri from the imploding Connecticut program. Oriakhi, who will be able to play immediately next season for Missouri after Connecticut’s 2013 NCAA Tournament ban was upheld, will be part of an entirely different Tiger team than the one that you saw this season as a significant portion of the team graduated while they are bringing in a handful of talented newcomers. Oriakhi should be able to mitigate some of the problems that the Tigers had on the inside last season, but it will be up to Frank Haith to reinvent the team with its new pieces.
  3. With Trent Johnson headed to TCU, the administration at LSU did not waste much time finding his replacement as they hired Johnny Jones, the head coach at North Texas, to replace him. Although Jones was not LSU’s first choice he should appeal to many LSU fans as a former player and two Final Four appearances at the school (one as a player and another as an assistant under Dale Brown). Jones also lead North Texas to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances as a head coach. Jones does inherit a decent LSU team, but he also leaves behind a solid North Texas team including Tony Mitchell, who had stated his intent to come back to North Texas for his sophomore season, but that may change with a new coaching staff to play under next season.
  4. Florida International may not have had much success on the court recently, but they know how to move the needle with their coaching hires. After firing Isiah Thomas, the school has decided to name Richard Pitino as its next head coach. Richard, who is best known as the son of Rick and was acting as an assistant at Louisville, will be taking his first job as a head coach at the age of 29, which might seem young until you consider that his father got his start at the age of 26 at Boston University although that was a very different era. When Isiah left he claimed that the pieces were in place for the next coach to succeed so the onus on Richard now.
  5. It seems like every few months a rumor comes to life about Larry Brown taking over as the head coach at some destination whether it is in the NBA, college, or even high school. The latest rumor, and one that has been picking up a lot of steam, is that Brown might become the next head coach at Southern Methodist. On the surface it seems ludicrous having a Hall of Fame coach, one who has titles at both the NCAA and NBA levels and perhaps more importantly one who will be 72 before the season starts, take over at SMU, a school that lacks any recent basketball success. It is also a school that will be heading to the Big East in 2013. Given Brown’s age and his tendency to have relatively short stays, his coaching staff could be a big story and we have heard several prominent names mentioned as potential assistants. Still we are having a hard time getting our heads wrapped around Brown being the head coach at SMU and the likely media circus that would follow.
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Morning Five: 04.11.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 11th, 2012

  1. After running the NCAA Tournament for over a decade, Greg Shaheen was replaced yesterday by Mark Lewis. As the article by Jeff Goodman points out Shaheen was widely respected within the college basketball community and was viewed as a good person to work with. We are not privy to the inner workings of the NCAA so we will not comment on how the entire process went down. We can however comment on our multiple interactions with him over the years and have to say that he always dealt with us fairly and when other people in similar positions of power may have been less likely to be as welcoming. We are not sure what his plans are, but there should be plenty of other organizations and companies that take a good, hard look at him for whatever openings they may have.
  2. We may have identified the early 2013 national title favorite as Cody Zeller and Christian Watford announced that they will be staying at Indiana for at least one more year. Zeller was the key to the Hoosiers’ resurgence and in most years would have been a serious contender for most national freshman of the year awards while Watford provided what was widely considered the play of the year with his game-winning three against Kentucky. With those two returning Indiana should be poised to compete with Louisville and Kentucky (depending on their additions today) for next year’s national title.
  3. With spring signing day upon us, we have a couple of articles to take you through the key players. The first is from  Eric Bossi, who takes a look at the ten top uncommitted prospects and where they might be headed.  The second is from Kevin Pelton and looks at the top incoming freshman from the Nike Hoop Summit. The names are mostly the same ones you have been hearing for the past year, but it is interesting to see legitimate criticism of their games, which you rarely see from most recruiting services when they discuss the top prospects.
  4. Apparently adding one of the best freshman classes in the country was not enough for Arizona as they picked up T.J. McConnell, a transfer from Duquesne, yesterday. McConnell, who left Duquesne less than a month ago, picked Arizona over Virginia citing among other things his desire to win and compete in the NCAA Tournament. McConnell will not be eligible to play until the 2013-14 season due to transfer rules, but when he does he will have an outstanding supporting cast assuming that most of the incoming freshmen stay in college for more than a year. The addition of McConnell, who will likely be a four-year guy, should also add some stability to the roster over the long-term as many of the more highly rated recruits may not stay all four years.
  5. The Indiana guys may have stolen the headlines, but there were a few others that made significant NBA Draft announcements yesterday. Jeremy Lamb decided that he would leave Connecticut before they had to deal with their 2013 NCAA Tournament ban. The move should not come as much of a surprise and our only question is how long until Andre Drummond joins him. Mason Plumlee will stick around Duke for his senior season, which may have led to Alex Oriakhi announcing that he had taken the Blue Devils off his transfer list. Plumlee’s return is fairly significant in that if he becomes a little more assertive the Blue Devils should be firmly in the top half of the very ACC next season. The last major announcement from yesterday was that Quincy Miller has decided to stay at Baylor for one more year. Miller’s announcement also should not come as a surprise as his freshman year was mediocre enough to scare away most NBA scouts.
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Morning Five: 04.06.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 6th, 2012

  1. After months of waiting Connecticut finally heard from the NCAA regarding its appeal against their 2013 NCAA Tournament ban for low APR scores. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the response was not the one they wanted to hear as the NCAA rejected the appeal so now the Huskies will be forced to sit out the NCAA Tournament. Outside of the immediate impact of the team not being able to play in the Big East and NCAA Tournament next year, this will likely have a significant influence on the NBA Draft decisions of Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond as well as the inevitable retirement of Jim Calhoun (he has to retire sometime, right?). And of course, as we have mentioned several times before this also means that Alex Oriakhi would be able to play for the school that he transfers to for next season without having to sit out a year. Although the Huskies do not have any other players who would appear to be in urgent need of going to a program that could play in the NCAA Tournament next year, it will be interesting to see if other players try to leave the program too.
  2. While some of Connecticut players may be leaving school early, there are at least a few notable names that will be staying in college. Yesterday, James Michael McAdoo, Isaiah Canaan, and Kenny Boynton all announced that they would be returning to their respective schools next season. McAdoo is perhaps the most interesting case as his playing time was limited by a loaded frontline in front of him at North Carolina, but he still would have been a first round pick. Now he will return to a Tar Heel team that has lost a lot of its minutes and McAdoo should be ready to showcase his skills for the nation and the NBA scouts. Canaan, who is coming off a spectacular junior year at Murray State, would not have been a first round pick so his return seems reasonable although we are not sure how much he can improve his stock unless he works on his point guard skills as the NBA is typically not in love with 6’0″ shooting guards. For us, the decision by Boynton to come back for his senior year at Florida seems like a no-brainer. While we have had issues with Boynton’s tendency to jack up shots (he will almost definitely end up as the school’s all-time leader in field goal attempts), his place in the Gator rotation should be more clear next season with the departure of at least one and probably two pieces from what was a crowded backcourt this season. Boynton will still probably end up playing overseas, but at least now he will have a chance to prove himself without a ton of other redundant options available to the coaching staff.
  3. Is this the beginning of the end for the ESPN BracketBusters event? One of the marquee conferences involved in the annual late February series of games, the CAA, has moved on to make an exclusive partnership deal with NBCSports Network starting in 2013, and therefore it will no longer participate in the event. In different-but-same news, the Mountain West’s television arm, The Mountain, will cease operations at the end of June as the league figures out its next step with a pending merger with Conference USA. This news undoubtedly will be received well far and wide for those of us who hated tuning into the fishbowl otherwise known as The Mtn’s production values every weekend. To whoever killed this network: Thank You.
  4. We’ve heard of a lot of crazy recruiting stories over the years — some true, most not — but we’re not sure that anything approaches what Nerlens Noel reported that a Kentucky fan offered him over Final Four weekend: the man’s wife. At this point, it’s just hearsay, but Noel seemed to have enough belief in the offer to state, “nah, [he's] good,” so we’re generally tending toward belief on this one. Regardless of whether the surely fine young Mrs. was offered to a 17-year old, this much is true: Noel will choose between Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown in the coming week.
  5. While on the subject of recruiting, and really, what else is there at this time of year… the nation’s #1 recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, is considered a must-get for Ben Howland’s UCLA program. His list of schools is down to UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke, but there hasn’t been more pressure on a single coach to get a single player in recruiting circles since Cody Zeller inked for Tom Crean’s Indiana program a year and a half ago. As the recruiting analysts all preach, it isn’t even about the single year that Muhammad would spend in Westwood as much as the future cachet that he would provide. John Calipari was able to lock down he likes of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist through his work two and three years ago with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
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NCAA Sticks to Its Guns: UConn Appeal Denied

Posted by rtmsf on April 5th, 2012

In news today that was only surprising to those who believe the NCAA has no spine, the organization denied Connecticut‘s final appeal over its eligibility for the 2013 NCAA Tournament based on its Academic Progress Rate (APR) scores. NCAA legislation enacted last October requires a four-year average APR of 900 or a two-year average of 930 in order to become eligible for next year’s Tournament — UConn’s APRs of 826 in 2009-10 and 978 in 2010-11 average out to a two-year score of 902 (well below the 930 cutoff), and its four-year average of 893 also comes up shy of the eligibility threshold (900). The Husky program argued that its proposed remedial measures, which included the possible forfeiture of NCAA Tournament revenue, greater academic support mechanisms and the existing loss of two scholarships, should be sufficient punishment for the school’s past academic failings. But that appeal was rejected, presumably on the grounds that the NCAA cannot afford to lose further credibility by backtracking on this mandate.

How Will the NCAA's Decision Impact Calhoun?

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy got involved on Thursday, telling the Hartford Courant:

It’s almost as if they’ve decided to get UConn one way or the other. [The NCAA] can’t get out of their own way. I think I have the same reaction a lot of people have when they understand what’s going on. For the first time in its history, the NCAA is making a retroactive application of a new rule. They modified a rule without modifying the time in which he comes into effect. … They changed the rule and didn’t give people time to adjust to it. … They are breaking their own precedents to bring this about. UConn has cleaned up its act, and now the NCAA is punishing a bunch of kids who have absolutely nothing or very little … to do with the failures of the past.

NCAA spokesperson Eric Christiansen responded to this criticism by saying that “schools have known since 2006 that APRs below 900 could result in serious penalties including postseason restrictions.” Of course, he’s right. UConn and other schools have known about the 900 threshold for a long time — they only started to take it seriously, though, when the NCAA gave it the necessary teeth to impact postseason eligibility through last year’s added legislation. And about the argument that the players from the 2009-10 team that caused so much of the APR problem are no longer around? No disrespect intended toward those former or current Huskies, but how is this different from other rules violations where a school is placed on probation for the actions of a former coach and/or players? The list is long of such situations on the other side of the rule-breaking fence — why should academic issues be treated any differently?

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Morning Five: 04.05.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 5th, 2012

  1. A year after announcing in the losing locker room that he would be returning to Ohio State, Jared Sullinger has decided to forego his final two years of eligibilty and will enter the NBA Draft. As we noted after what turned out to be Sullinger’s last game in a Buckeye jersey he still need to work on his game quite a bit. Although Sullinger did show signs of rounding out his game as a sophomore by losing weight and developing an outside shot it was not evident in that game for Sullinger. Sullinger will need to continue developing his game to have a long NBA career. He will still end up being a lottery pick and most likely a top 10 pick despite his limitations, but those flaws probably cap his ceiling.
  2. Sullinger may be joined by another Big Ten underclassman as an initial report indicated that Michigan freshman Trey Burke was going to announce his intent to enter the NBA Draft. A few hours later his father released a statement indicating that Trey had not declared for the NBA Draft yet and was still taking classes at Michigan. While some viewed this as a denial of the earlier report to us it was just semantics as his father never said that Burke was not planning to declare for the Draft. Burke’s decision to continue classes is a little less reassuring to Wolverine fans because Michigan is currently in their Winter Term, which ends in less than two weeks with exam week the following week, so Burke could finish classes to preserve Michigan’s APR score and not affect his NBA Draft stock, which is important because he is a borderline first round pick.
  3. Yesterday, one key member of Kentucky‘s national championship team announced his intention to stay in Lexington as John Calipari announced that he was not looking to pursue a NBA coaching career at this time. The most obvious suitor would be the New York Knicks, who some believe have the inside track to steal him from Big Blue Nation. On some level we could understand Calipari’s desire to stay with a passionate fan base who no doubt reveres him after he brought them their eighth national title, but if Calipari is given a chance to shine on the NBA’s stage (and with the NBA’s millions) it may turn out to too tempting to pass up after his brief run in New Jersey went so poorly.
  4. Alex Oriakhi has listed his preliminary plans for his college visits. The Connecticut transfer will “definitely visit” North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, and Missouri while also listing Xavier, Ohio State, and UNC-Charlotte as potential visits. Outside of the UNC-Charlotte visit, which seems kind of random, the Ohio State visit becomes intriguing with the possibility that Oriakhi could potential step in to replace Sullinger. Clearly, Oriakhi is not quite the same caliber of player that Sullinger was at Ohio State, but he would be a nice bridge to the next dominant big man the Buckeyes want to bring in.
  5. Early this morning, Samford  will introduce Indiana assistant Bennie Seltzer  as its next head coach. Seltzer, who has also worked as an assistant at Marquette and Oklahoma, will be returning to his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama for his first job as a head coach. With two new head coaches without any previous head coaching experience in college basketball, Birmingham’s beat writers should be very active next season.
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ACC Morning Five: 04.03.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on April 3rd, 2012

  1. Hampton Roads Daily Press: Speaking of tall lanky game-changers in college basketball, Ralph Sampson finally was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame. You can blame the delay on his injury-laden NBA career and a combination of Sidney Lowe, Michael Jordan, and Sam Perkins (who kept him from ACC Championships in 1983, 1982 and 1981 respectively). Sampson was truly a once-in-a-generation player. At 7’4″ and athletic, he was comfortable smoking opponents from inside and out. He’s also one of two players to be chosen the consensus national player of the year three times (Bill Walton is the other).
  2. Yadkin Valley Sports: This is a great article on Victor Davila, who watched his senior season evaporate from the bench with a groin injury. Davila is a product of Puerto Rico by means of the foothills of North Carolina. Here’s to hoping he finds some basketball success overseas before having to get a real job.
  3. Durham Herald-Sun: Steve Wiseman checks in with questions facing Duke in the offseason. I will try to answer them. Will Mason Plumlee return? No idea. Will Rasheed Sulaimon make an impact as a freshman? Yes. He’s a great shooter and looks like a solid defender (albeit in the McDonald’s All-American game). Will Duke pick up any transfers? I think Alex Oriakhi comes if Plumlee leaves; Trey Zeigler seems more likely. Strengths? Definitely scoring, though the defense should get better with the addition of Alex Murphy. Speaking of Murphy I think he will start next year, and Marshall Plumlee will get decent minutes off the bench (to commit fouls if nothing else).
  4. Fox Sports: Here’s Andrew Jones with Florida State‘s final report card for the season. I think he’s a little harsh on the Seminoles’ offense, though their nonconference play certainly merits a harsh rating. The real question is what Leonard Hamilton can put together losing so many players. The team was so deep last year that he’ll still have plenty of players coming back with experience, but things will look very different in Tallahassee next year (Michael Snaer is the difference to me).
  5. NC State Technician: While part of me agrees that CJ Leslie should stick around for another year (namely, he’s not a first round lock), I abhor these types of articles. Players know fans want them to come back. I think the jump Leslie made between last year and this year was the difference between a flame out career and sticking around in the NBA. He matured a ton between last year and this year. If Leslie comes back, he’s definitely preseason first team All-ACC and should be in the running for conference player of the year (on a team that might be picked on top of the league).

Today in Carefully-Framed Stats:

(That would be ignoring the ACC’s three consecutive championships from 1991-1993.)

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