Posted by Patrick Prendergast on March 16th, 2012
- If anyone had questions about how the loss of starting center Fab Melo would impact Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament… they should still have questions. The East Region’s #1 seeded Orange needed about 39 ½ minutes and a few controversial calls to finally discard a pesky UNC Asheville squad in a game where Bulldogs’ Head Coach Eddie Biedenbach believed his team had the best of it. “Tonight, we were better than Syracuse,” Biedenbach said. “These guys played their tail off for 40 minutes and played better than Syracuse. This is the better team tonight.” All that said, this was a game where Syracuse would not have ended the scrutiny involved without Melo in the lineup regardless of the result. If they had won in a landslide, critics would simply say they should have won in a landslide as a #1 versus as #16. We are sure to learn more on Saturday when Syracuse faces a much stiffer and battle-tested opponent in Kansas State.
- Following Syracuse’s narrow win over UNC Asheville, head coach Jim Boeheim was admittedly upset. However it had nothing to do with his team’s performance yesterday. Boeheim was reacting to comments made by Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education who insinuated that Boeheim was against the NCAA’s Academic Performance Rating (APR) system and that his team would not have qualified for this year’s NCAA Tournament under the recently tightened standards that will impact teams’ eligibility next year. A team that fails to meet a minimum 930 APR score will not be eligible for next year’s Tournament. Boeheim vehemently denied that his team would have failed to qualify this year, saying, “I think people need to get better information. Syracuse would be eligible to play in the Tournament this year. We are qualified. We are over 930. Under this year’s rules or last year’s rules, we would be eligible to play in the Tournament.” Boeheim also took umbrage to Duncan’s quoting Boeheim as saying the APR standard was “completely nuts,” stating that his words were taken out of context as he was referencing specific parts of the APR calculation that he is opposed to.
- The West Virginia men’s basketball team has played its last game as a member of the Big East and the #10 seeded Mountaineers did not go out in style as they were outclassed by #7 Gonzaga, 77-54. The game was never really in doubt but remained entertaining nonetheless simply because the facial expressions of a less than jovial Bob Huggins are worth the price of admission every time. In the irony department West Virginia ended its run on the home floor of their most hated Big East rival, Pittsburgh, in a game where the Mountaineers figured to have an advantage due to their proximity to home against a west coast team. West Virginia will learn all they want to and more about travel in their next life as they navigate the Big 12.
- Steve Lavin scored his second recruiting commitment of the week and it was a big one as JaKarr Sampson will head to St. John’s after all. Sampson, an athletic 6’8” wing, was a highly regarded class of 2011 player who had signed with the Red Storm hoping to begin his college career in 2011-12. However, after being ruled academically ineligible, Sampson opted to re-open his recruitment and head back to Brewster Academy (NH) for another prep year. St. John’s remained on his list throughout but it was widely believed Sampson was leaning toward suitors such as Kansas, Baylor and Providence, who had been recruiting him hard. Re-landing Sampson represents a huge statement by Lavin, whose program has been on tenuous ground since his difficult recovery from prostate surgery sidelined him for most of the year. Despite rumors he may not be back next year and stories of opposing recruiters using his health against him, Lavin has publicly remained confident St. John’s would acquire another huge recruiting class. He has quelled any doubts with the addition of Sampson.
- Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun and Kentucky’s John Calipari certainly compete for recruits as they lead national programs perennially seeking Final Fours and NCAA Championships. Not to mention that the Huskies and Wildcats were on a collision course for a third round NCAA Tournament matchup before Connecticut fell to Iowa State last night. With that in mind, one has to wonder if the wily veteran Calhoun was exhibiting a bit of gamesmanship when he commented that he would not be surprised to see Calipari making a jump back to the NBA on the heels of the New York Knicks and Mark D’Antoni parting ways. “Can I imagine John going in the NBA or anything else? Yes,” said Calhoun. “I think John very simply marches… to his own drummer,” he added. Upon D’Antoni’s exit, Calipari’s name quickly surfaced as a possible replacement. Calipari responded to the buzz by saying he intends to stay at Kentucky.
Posted by rtmsf on January 21st, 2010
- UConn AD Jeff Hathaway stated unequivocally yesterday that Jim Calhoun’s medical problems were not career-ending in nature, but there is no timetable for the coach’s return to the sideline. Seth Davis, not messing around with his pointed advice to the UConn coach regarding his most recent leave of absence: get out while you still can. The sideline is no place for a good man to die. While we agree with the general sentiment of Davis’ article, we’re also betting he’s back within a week.
- Dan Fitzgerald, the progenitor of the Gonzaga basketball program as the man who recruited John Stockton to campus in the 80s and developed a coaching staff that included future GU coaches Dan Monson and Mark Few, passed away suddenly on Wednesday in Spokane. His record was 252-171 (.596) in fifteen seasons at the school and he took the Zags to their first-ever NCAA Tournament in 1995 before resigning two years later. RIP “Fitz.”
- Obama’s Education Secretary Arne Duncan is in the college hoops news for the second time in a week, stating yesterday that the NCAA should consider tying invitations to the NCAA Tournament to player graduation rates. Umm, yeah. While we’re at it, let’s have the players bring their report cards to the scorer’s table before checking into the game.
- The University of New Orleans has lost its struggle to remain a Division I school, and has voluntarily withdrawn itself from the Sun Belt Conference, effective July 1, 2010. We knew this was coming, but it’s sad to see the Privateers go. The four-time NCAA Tournament entrant won a game in 1987 with Ledell “A-Train” Eackles as its star player, and who can forget former grocery bagger Ervin Johnson who played for Tim Floyd in the early 1990s and took the program to two NCAA Tourneys.
- And this is the part where you realize these players are still kids and they’re not always the most mature beings around these programs. Royce White, the Minnesota player who created a bizarre YouTube video announcing his retirement from basketball last month, is back at practice for Tubby Smith’s team. There’s no timetable for his actual return to action, but Tubby has been known for giving troubled kids second chances, and it’s clear that something like this is happening here. Let’s hope he understands and appreciates the opportunity he’s being given this time around.
Posted by rtmsf on January 15th, 2010
- Knowing what we know about NC State, this idea to use a real wolf as the team mascot will not end well. Then again, maybe the wolf can “escape” and devour Sidney Lowe during a rampage — that might make some of their fans happy.
- Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan pulled no punches in his address to the NCAA yesterday, stating that college basketball is tainted by ‘renegade’ coaches and that the one-and-done rule is essentially an academic sham.
- The hits keep coming for DePaul. Just days after firing their coach Jerry Wainwright, the Blue Demons lost their best player Mac Koshwal 2-4 weeks with a foot injury.
- Luke Winn is back with his power rankings in the best read of the week, as usual. It’s a little scary that we remember those LJ/Augmon t-shirts from the days when the high fade was still rockin like Marley Marl and De La Soul.
- OJ Mayo continues to hide behind his agent when it comes to substantive answers while maintaining that he loves USC and would have never done anything inappropriate like, oh, maybe take money to attend the school. Look, we know he’s not legally obligated to say a word, but just once we’d like to see an athlete come out in his prime and say, “yeah, I did all that stuff and more. So what?” Maybe by thumbing his nose at the NCAA, it’ll help embarrass the organization into re-assessing how they do business.