Morning Five: 06.05.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 5th, 2013


  1. In what turned out to be a rough Tuesday in terms of college basketball-related news, a federal grand jury in Alabama unsealed an indictment that alleges former Auburn guard Varez Ward of attempting to throw a game against Arkansas in the 2011-12 season. Ward, a junior at the time, is accused of two counts of sports bribery (or more commonly known as point-shaving) where he allegedly conspired with gamblers and tried to solicit other players to throw the game. (full indictment here) Ward only played 19 seconds in that contest against the Hawgs, suffering a thigh bruise very early that kept him on the bench for the rest of the game in an eventual three-point loss. Last year the FBI said that it was also looking into a February 2012 game against Alabama where Ward scored three points and committed six turnovers, but that game was not referred to in yesterday’s indictment. According to this report from last year, Ward was suspended by Auburn assistant coaches in late February after another player blew the whistle on him; another teammate originally under suspicion was later cleared. Ward never suited up for Auburn again, but he may very well be wearing the orange (jumpsuit) full-time if these charges stick. He faces five years in prison on each count. We’re not going to get preachy on this issue, but we will refer back to one of the first articles we ever wrote on this here website: This sort of thing happens a lot more than anyone cares to admit
  2. Meanwhile, more discouraging news from the great state of Alabama came out on Tuesday as Crimson Tide forward Devonta Pollard was charged by local authorities with conspiracy to commit kidnapping related to an April 30 abduction of a six-year old girl named Jashayla Hopson. The details are somewhat murky at this point, but it appears that Pollard may have been assisting his mother, Jessie Mae Pollard, in antagonizing the youngster’s mother who was caught up in a land dispute with her. But this is no trumped-up charge where someone was held against their will for a minute or two — if the allegations are true, Hopson was picked up at her elementary school and held for a full day before being dropped off on the side of a road unharmed. Pollard, his mother, and four others have been charged so far in this crime, with at least one other still pending. What a crazy world we live in.
  3. Ohio State president Gordon Gee has had himself quite a week, as reports of his insensitive comments made in December about Catholics, SEC schools, and Louisville have been making the rounds. The “pompous ass,” according to Cardinals’ head coach Rick Pitino, announced Tuesday that he is taking his volatile opinions into the sunset, choosing to retire from his post effective July 1. Gee says that he made his decision last week during a vacation, feeling that he needed time to “re-energize and re-focus.” Whether he was encouraged to retire or came to the decision on his own volition, the 69-year old president certainly has a fund-raising and bottom line resume that is unmatched within the industry, so if he chooses to continue his work elsewhere, we doubt he’ll have much trouble finding a place to land. He may not want to send any resumes out to Notre Dame, Louisville or any of those SEC schools, though.
  4. How about some better news? One of the problems with the John R. Wooden Classic played every December in Anaheim was that the stature of the lineup often didn’t seem to fit the stature of the name headlining the event. Naturally, UCLA was almost always involved, but usually the three other teams invited were a mixture of solid mid-majors (i.e., St. Mary’s, San Diego State) and some other mid-level programs (i.e., USC, Washington, Texas A&M). It was also just for one day, and it often fell during a period in the college basketball calendar in early to mid-December when viewers were getting much better match-ups during the same period (think: UNC-Kentucky or Kansas-Ohio State). The decision announced Tuesday to rebrand the event as the John Wooden Legacy and merge it with the Anaheim Classic during Thanksgiving weekend is a good one. Although the 2013 field is not great, featuring Marquette, Creighton, San Diego State and Miami (FL) as its marquee names, the four-year cycle of exempted events and ESPN’s coverage will no doubt encourage bigger-name programs to take the trip to SoCal in future years. We’d expect this to become one of the better such events during Feast Week starting in 2014 and beyond.
  5. Finally today, Andy Glockner at digs deeply through the KenPom statistical buffet and gives us what he calls “the extremists” — those returning players who are the best of the best in each of a number of key statistical categories. If you can name the top returnee in the nation in shot percentage at 40 percent, more power to you (answer: Wofford’s Karl Cochran), but certainly a couple of these names are on the short list for breakout seasons next year: Oregon State’s Eric Moreland (tops in defensive rebounding percentage at 28 percent); St. John’s Chris Obepka (tops in block percentage at 16 percent); and, VCU’s Briante Weber (tops in steal percentage at 7 percent). There’s more to the article than this, of course, so check it out on a lazy summer Wednesday.
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Preseason Tourney Brackets

Posted by rtmsf on October 10th, 2008

This isn’t meant to be an exhaustive listing of the preseason tournaments, rather just the best ones, but if you feel like we omitted something relevant, link to it in the comments.  And against our better judgment, we’re putting those ridiculous CBE and Legends Classic “brackets” into the post as well.  Losers. 

The 2kSports Coaches v. Cancer tips off the season with games beginning on Nov. 10.  Duke, S. Illinois, UCLA and Michigan are expected to make it to the semis at MSG, but don’t sleep on UMass or Northeastern as spoilers.   

The Maui Invitational, on the Mon-Wed of Thanksgiving week, as usual, shouldn’t disappoint.  There are at least five NCAA teams here, and UNC-Notre Dame in the finals could be seen again in late March or early April. 

Another Thanksgiving week classic, the Preseason NIT, with the semis on the Wednesday prior to the holiday and the finals on Friday night, is a little weaker than normal.  But any chance to see Stephen Curry on the big stage at MSG is worth watching, so let’s all root for Davidson to pull off the second-round upset over Oklahoma.  A number of teams could win this tourney, but we guess Purdue is most likely?  Arizona?  Cornell?

The Old Spice Classic is a newer tournament also airing during Thanksgiving weekend, but what a great lineup!  There are literally no bad teams here – all eight could be playing in March Madness 2009, and it would be a huge disappointment if any fewer than six do.  We like Siena to pull the upsets to play Gonzaga in the finals there, with mid-major glory all around. 

The Anaheim Classic is another ESPN property airing during Thanksgiving weekend – the lineup is solid, although not as strong as the Old Spice.  We like the young Deacs to play run-n-gun Baylor in the finals. 

Sigh…  here is the “Championship Round” bracket for the Legends Classic.  Remember, each of these teams has already been slotted into these spots no matter what happens in the previous two rounds of this ‘tournament.’  So… disgustingly… weak.  Pitt should roll here no matter what happens in the other game. 

Along the same lines, the CBE Classic is so lame that they won’t even give us a bracket to put up for you.  The matchups aren’t bad, but we’re still bitter (see Legends Classic).  We like Florida and Kansas to play in the final, with UF taking the title. 


Semifinal Doubleheader
(November 24 – 7:30 ET)
Syracuse vs. Florida- ESPN2
Kansas vs Washington- ESPN2
Championship Doubleheader
(November 25 – 7:45 ET)
Consolation Game- ESPNU
Championship Game- ESPN2

Any others?  We’ll revisit these when they actually start, but we wanted to get them all in one post as part of the preview. 

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08.17.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 17th, 2007

Nothing like 100-degree heat to make you think college hoops, right: 

  • Our future Prez (ca. 2016 unless some redneck jacks him first) was a baller!  Barack Obama starred at D3 Occidental College back in the day (highlights here – let’s hope his FT shooting acumen is not indicative of a lack of concentration under pressure)
  • FAMU head coach Mike Gillespie was fired for stalking his ex-girlfriend – and yes, because you wouldn’t need a girlfriend unless it were so, he is married. 
  • What the hell is going on at Ball St.?  Coach Ronny Thompson (son of JT2) resigned in July, leaving in his wake an athletic dept smeared by his cries of racism and unfairness (also leaving a 9-22 first year record on the table).  The two black Ws – Wilbon and Whitlock – chime in with conflicting viewpoints on the situation, and new head coach Billy Taylor (from Lehigh) is now left with a mess to clean up.  Why couldn’t David Letterman take care of this?   
  • The NCAA says no more Pembroke States and UC-Davises in D1 for four years. 
  • Al Skinner is getting a raise from BC.  He’d better sign that extension quickly because Tyrese Rice by himself probably can’t cash those checks in 2007-08.   
  • Im-ass is getting sued for slander by one of the “nappy-headed hos” at Rutgers.  The conservatorium is up in arms over this, but we’re not really following their logic – are they really saying that this woman (and her teammates) were not defamed by Imus’s comments?  Seriously?   
  • Celebrations ensue in Madison, Columbus and other places midwestern as the Big 10 Network released its 2008 hoops schedule.  We’ve already circled that Feb. 6 tilt between Minnesota and Northwestern on our iPhone. 
  • W4M: ISO orange-clad GOB who won’t be offended by mannish tendencies and spirited versions of Rocky Top.  Must be willing to be dominated in life and bedroom.  Appreciates the nuances and subtleties of women’s sports (read: boring and lame). 
  • ESPN invented a way to air OJ Mayo three times early in the season – create a new Tournament!  The Anaheim Classic features USC and a bunch of mid-majors.  Expect to see The Juice Deux on tv a LOT this upcoming season. 
  • We’ve never heard of an athletic department bailing out the academic side of the shop, but we’ve also never seen an athletic juggernaut like Florida either. 
  • Gary Parrish exposes the seamier side of recruiting in this article.  Wait, there’s a seamier side?  We thought the whole thing was slimy to begin with.
  • MMAS puts forth its summer thoughts in two detailed postings about (mostly) BCS teams, but there are some valuable insights here.  Btw, we agree about the Vols. 
  • The WWL has an interesting piece on how teams push the envelope with the rules to get an edge.   
  • Rivals is well under way with its Top 64 teams of 2007-08. 
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