Morning Five: 09.05.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 5th, 2012

  1. Reading the tea leaves in the case of Dez Wells‘ whirlwind tour of several prominent basketball schools over Labor Day weekend turned out to be advantageous, as the rising sophomore wing on Tuesday decided to commit to Maryland. If you recall, Mark Turgeon’s program was the only school among the three he visited — Memphis, Oregon, and Maryland — where he tweeted out transparent clues such as #terpnation while he was on campus. The Terps will without question file a petition with the NCAA for an immediate waiver that would allow Wells to suit up next season rather than having to sit out the typical transfer year. Although we’re uncertain if there is a precedent for a player arguing as a basis for the waiver that he was wrongfully expelled from a school, the NCAA may face a veritable uproar if Wells is forced to sit out a season because of what an Ohio grand jury has decided is no fault of his own. And regardless of which year Wells actually suits up at Maryland, the news on Tuesday that the elite Class of 2013 Harrison twins will spend Midnight Madness at the Comcast Center has things looking up for Terp Nation indeed.
  2. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, the NCAA’s compliance and eligibility staff sure doesn’t seem to have much of an opportunity for vacation time right now. Providence super-recruit Ricardo Ledo told GoLocalProv.com on Tuesday that he expects to have a decision in place on his eligibility sometime this week, and if you take the new college enrollee at face value, he says that he’s sticking around PC no matter what decision the NCAA makes. The site makes reference to three likely scenarios involving Ledo’s eligibility, but it doesn’t seem to contemplate what to us is the likeliest scenario: that Ledo is allowed to practice with the Friars this season but must sit out a number of regular season games as a fair punishment (think: Josh Selby). Guess we’ll find out soon enough.
  3. We mentioned yesterday that Texas Tech head coach Billy Gillispie remains in a Lubbock hospital relating to a medical incident he experienced when his blood pressure reportedly spiked to dangerous levels last Friday. Nothing appears to have changed on that count, as Gillispie was still a patient at the facility as of Tuesday night, but with the report released by CBSSports.com‘s Jeff Goodman exposing to the world the many shenanigans that the head coach has allegedly pulled, he may as well not pass go nor collect $200 on the way back to his campus office. You really need to read the article thoroughly to understand the breadth of the problems and the climate that Gillispie has engendered there, but they range from a musical chairs of hirings, firings and player transfers, forcing players to practice for as many as eight hours a day, and making them practice or play while nursing severe injuries. We’re really trying to figure out how this guy could have been so successful at UTEP and Texas A&M if he was using these or similar coaching tactics at the time, but perhaps these recent problems are isolated manifestations of his Kentucky debacle.
  4. The Athlon Sports College Basketball Yearbook won’t be out on news stands for another three weeks, but Rick Bozich of the Louisville Courier-Journalalready has a bead on the top three teams in this year’s publication and they have a rather lower midwestern/upper southern feel. Coming in at the top of the list is Tom Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers; moving southeast 90 miles, we run into Athlon’s #2 team, Louisville; then, moving east another 70 miles you hit their #3 team, Kentucky. It’s a solid trio, as each team will no doubt do some damage this season. Still, we have considerable trouble with the placement of a team in the preseason top five when quite literally more than 90% of its scoring is now playing in the NBA. Apparently the good folks at Athlon do not care to recall that last year’s Wildcats team returned experienced talent in Darius Miller, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb to join all those fabulous freshman, two of whom were better than anyone entering college basketball in 2012-13.
  5. We’re honestly not sure why anyone outside of the punditocracy watches the snoozefest known as political conventions these days, but if you happened upon the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last night you may have caught Michelle Obama’s brother-in-law, Oregon State’s Craig Robinson, make a quick recruiting pitch at the start of his dual speech with Barack Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-ng: “Any seven-footers out there, give me a call.” Obviously, the sheen of Robinson’s status as the First Bro-in-Law has worn off by now, but you never know where you might find unexpected leverage — maybe some young political-minded player out there will remember Robinson’s request in a few years and choose to make a visit to Corvallis one of his stops.

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Morning Five: 08.01.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 1st, 2012

  1. The NCAA on Tuesday hammered Central Florida with a one-year postseason ban as a result of the dreaded “lack of institutional control” violation in both its football and men’s basketball programs. The penalty is effective next season, which means that UCF’s last round in Conference USA before moving to the Big East will not contain the possibility of a league championship. For all the nitty-gritty details of the findings and what the probation means to the program, individual players and coaches, read Jeff Goodman’s piece on the matter, but the nutshell is that the athletic department allowed at least one agent to run roughshod through the program even though only one of the players involved (AJ Rompza) ever suited up at UCF. Comically, and as the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi writes: “The most tragically comical part of the whole ordeal is this: The Knights were cheating to get recruits, but none of those recruits ended up playing for the school. It’s one thing to be a cheater; it’s another to be an incompetent cheater.” We’re sure that this makes Ohio State, USC, and all the rest feel much better.
  2. This has been quite a transitional week for a number of college basketball media personalities, as CBS Sports, ESPN, and Sports Illustrated all announced the signing of new talent on Tuesday. The biggest mover was perhaps ESPN’s Doug Gottlieb, who signed on with CBS to serve as a college hoops studio and game analyst, host his own drive-time radio show on CBS Sports Radio and a television show on CBS Sports Network, and provide exclusive online content for CBSSports.com. Gottlieb is one of our favorites in the business because his devotion to research is impeccable and, even when we disagree with his points (which is uncommon), he cuts through all the typical pandering you see on television to make them. This announcement came on the heels of ESPN’s Monday announcement of its own new hires, with former head coaches Bruce Pearl and Seth Greenberg joining the college basketball studio as analysts, and NBA analyst Jalen Rose slotted to replace the departed Hubert Davis on College Gameday. We don’t have much of an opinion on the coaches at this point, but generally feel like Rose’s transformation from Fab Five knucklehead to a solid NBA analyst is one of the greatest we’ve ever witnessed. Others are less impressed with these hires. Finally, SI announced internally on Monday night that the New York Times‘ rabble-rouser Pete Thamel is moving over to its writing lineup. For those wondering, your RTC editors have not yet been contacted by the Times for Thamel’s open position, but we expect the call at any moment.
  3. UNLV basketball has bounced in and out of the Top 25 the last few seasons under Lon Kruger and Dave Rice, but a jump into the national consciousness like the Runnin’ Rebels enjoyed two decades ago with Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon, Tark the Shark and the rest has remained elusive. But, as Jeff Goodman writes about Rice’s 2012-13 Rebs, the upcoming team will be the most talented that Vegas has seen just off strip since that monstrous team some 20 years ago. With elite talent such as Mike Moser, Anthony Bennett and Khem Birch available to him on the front line, and an athletic backcourt including Anthony Marshall, Bryce Jones and Katin Reinhardt, Rice is realistically talking about pushing tempo to put the “Runnin'” back in the Rebels nickname. If the pieces all come together and UNLV gets past its road woes, this team is a group worth watching all season long.
  4. Speaking of Sin City, Seth Davis is working hard this week, with a two-part piece he calls “Summer Springs Eternal” over on SI.com. The article breaks down his July trip to Las Vegas where he no doubt wore a nice white golf shirt and pow-wowed on the bleachers with the top coaches from around the nation. In the first installment published on Monday, he relates anecdotes from Harvard’s Tommy Amaker, Colorado’s Tad Boyle, Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, Illinois’ John Groce, UCLA’s Ben Howland, Memphis’ Josh Pastner, DePaul’s Oliver Purnell, and Butler’s Brad Stevens. Part two published on TuesdayVir includes stories and quotes from Virginia’s Tony Bennett, Gonzaga’s Mark Few, San Diego State’s Steve Fisher, USC’s Kevin O’Neill, Purdue’s Matt Painter, Kansas’ Bill Self, and Georgetown’s John Thompson, III. Even if your team’s coach isn’t on this list, it’s well worth the read to see which guys are willing to drop hints of truth about their players and teams, and those who are completely full of coachspeak.
  5. Lists like the one that Athlon Sports just released naming the top 30 coaches in college basketball are a bit of an exercise in futility because the topic is so completely subjective that everyone has a complaint. Still, you don’t release such a list without asking for attention, so here are the top three problems we have with it: 1) It’s very hard to believe that any list of best current college coaches would have anyone other than Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski at the very top. Four national titles, 11 Final Fours, countless wins and accolades… but perhaps most importantly, he saved USA Basketball from the abomination it had become. 2) Roy Williams at #7 is astonishing as well. He has his issues, but is he behind Jim Boeheim and John Calipari? 3) Even if Jim Calhoun retired today, there is no way on this earth that there are 21 better college basketball coaches than him. And definitely not Mike Montgomery, Tom Crean or Mike Brey. Get over there and leave your comments on their list.
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Breaking Down the 2009 Preseason Mags… Athlon Sports.

Posted by nvr1983 on September 30th, 2009

The preseason magazines hit bookshelves across the country a few weeks ago. Each year some get progressively better, others get progressively worse and some continue to be excellent (I’m talking to you Blue Ribbon). First up is Athlon Sports, which didn’t score all that well two years ago, but I promise the magazine has taken a few strides forward.

Canadian Cover

I. Covers (5 pts) - are they cool? inclusive?

The 32 covers this year are down from 34 last year, but they include a cover for Canada (as seen above) so at least they are thinking of the Canucks up north.

Coolest Cover: Duke/North Carolina. Yes, this rivalry gets enough attention as is, but it is one of few covers that is posed. Ed Davis and Kyle Singler look like they are about to kill each plus Singler looks like he is using the men’s room.

Say what? The Memphis/Arkansas cover doesn’t feature the FedEx Forum imploding. I guess without the recruits coming in next year, the Tigers aren’t that bad off.

Total points = 4

II. Ease of Use (5 pts) – how hard is it to find confs/teams?

Table of contents in the beginning is very easy to use. Plus, you can pretty much just open up the magazine and figure out where you need to go quickly as the magazine is done alphabetically first by conference then by team.

Total points = 4.5

III. Roundup (10 pts) – every mag has one – tell us something new!

10 Things to Watch is a little better than last year’s version. This one is a little more original and contained a few nuggets that surprised me: #8 about LaceDarius Dunn and his incredible lack of assists stands out.

Hoops Madness is the same old. Nothing really jumps out at me this year. The Hoops Superlatives  is full of debate — Scottie Reynolds is listed as the top scorer!?!

Total points = 4.5

IV. Features (15 pts) – give us some insightful and unique storylines.

There are three main features this year–one is above-average, the next is average, and the final one is a little below average. There’s an outstanding feature on whether mid-major coaches should make the jump to a larger conference. There’s also the standard “look at what John Calipari is doing” feature and finally one that seems like it is a year late. Athlon takes a look at the trend of players going overseas.

Athlon also has The Scoop which is a collection of interviews with some of the game’s top players. Nothing too noteworthy except Washington‘s Isaiah Thomas plans to stick around Seattle for awhile.

Overall, the section is better than last year, but there is still lots of room for improvement.

Total points = 8

V. Predictions (20 pts) – how safe are their picks? do they take any chances? are they biased toward the big boys?

Athlon projects the full field of 65 as well as a preseason top 25. A rematch of one of last year’s Elite Eight games is their projected national title game (doesn’t take long to figure out which two teams they are picking in the finals).

Big Conference Bias: Only one mid-major makes their Sweet 16, but then again, they make their bracket based on their rankings with the higher seed always advancing. Butler is the only mid-major Athlon has in its top 16.

Mid-Major Watch: Athlon seems pretty high on the three teams they’ve got in the top 25: BYU, Butler, and Dayton. Major diss on Siena though. The Saints are projected as a seven seed, but get barely a blurb in the magazine. That’s a big-time negative.

All-Americans: Putting Devan Downey, Patrick Patterson, and Kyle Singler on the first team is debatable. Downey is great, but first team? Patterson may not put the numbers up needed to be a first-teamer and Kyle Singler should have an outstanding year, but put him ahead of Sherron Collins, Evan Turner, or Willie Warren? Athlon also doesn’t include any freshmen on its top three teams which is unrealistic.

Boldest Prediction: The Pac-10 receiving only three bids to the dance. Athlon has California, Washington, and UCLA going dancing. It’s going to be a really down year for Pac-10 ball, but it’s tough fathom only three teams getting in. Someone else (Arizona? Oregon State?) has to step up.

What they got right: It’s hard to argue with most of Athlon’s conference standings predictions. The SEC, Big East, and ACC stand out the most as being the most realistic.

Total points = 14

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