Assessing the Season: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by Nate Kotisso on April 12th, 2013

As the season winds down and Big 12 teams continue to find themselves eliminated from the post-season, we’re taking a look back on a team-by-team basis at the 2012-13 season. Next up: the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Final Record: 11-20 (3-15)

The Expectations: Normally, the only time a college basketball team makes news in August is if it secures a top commitment from a recruit. What was being reported by CBS Sports last summer was far from normal. Head coach Billy Gillispie was in a heap of trouble, violating NCAA rules by exceeding the allowable amount of practice time (four hours/day; 20 hours/week) to as many as eight hours in a day. One player, later identified as Kader Tapsoba, was so worn down by the practices that he developed multiple stress fractures. And yet Gillispie still made him practice. It wasn’t just excessive practice that led to Gillispie’s downfall, though. He promised ex-Indiana player Tom Coverdale a job as an assistant but later changed his mind. Secretaries, trainers, graduate assistants and others also left in the early stages of Gillispie’s tenure. It was already well-documented that Texas Tech was going to have a vastly different roster compared to the year before with 15 players transferring out of Lubbock in the 18 months that he had been head coach there. Associate head coach Chris Walker was later tabbed as the interim coach for the 2012-13 season, but Texas Tech basketball was starting over. The only thing you could expect from this team was to play hard, game in and game out.

Interim head coach Chris Walker was left to pick up the pieces in Lubbock. (TexasTech.com)

Interim head coach Chris Walker was left to pick up the pieces in Lubbock (TexasTech.com)

The Actual Result: The Red Raiders pressed their way to a 4-0 start to the season, albeit against inferior opponents Prairie View A&M, Nebraska-Omaha, Jackson State and Grambling State. Then came some tougher opponents in Arizona, Alabama and Arizona State, all of which soundly beat Tech in Lubbock. (Aside: everyone is no doubt jealous at how Tech was able to get all of their non-conference games at home.) Conference play began and that went just as well as you would have expected. The Red Raiders lost 15 games in the Big 12 including nine in a row at one stretch. Their best home win came against Iowa State in which both teams combined to score 107 points. Jordan Tolbert, perhaps the best player on last year’s team, told ESPN.com he’d transfer if Gillispie wasn’t fired. Tolbert returned but the 11.5 PPG scorer from last season struggled to find his offensive game, probably because Tolbert’s father and biggest motivator, James Tolbert, passed away in October. That and the fact that the freshman starting point guard, Josh Gray, was going through a baptism-by-fire against the likes of Marcus Smart, Pierre Jackson and Angel Rodriguez. It shouldn’t go unmentioned that Jaye Crockett had been a former starter for the Red Raiders and still made an impact. Chris Walker made the decision to bring him off the bench this season, and Crockett quickly became one of the better sixth men in America (11.9 PPG, 6.5 RPG).

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SEC M5: 02.01.13 Edition

Posted by DPerry on February 1st, 2013

SEC_morning5

  1. Frank Haith has had a rough month. Questions over his job security in the wake of violations at Miami have been festering, and his Missouri Tigers, previously ranked in the top 10, were in free fall after heavy losses to Ole Miss and Florida. But forward Laurence Bowers’ return would solve the latter problem at least, right? Wrong. Missouri lost to LSU in Baton Rouge, and Haith is not amused. “We have no toughness in the first half; we have no resolve,” Haith said. “It’s disappointing. It’s really extremely disappointing. Guys are tending to do their own thing when the game’s getting tight or there’s adversity.” Star point guard Phil Pressey, despite finally finding his scoring touch, should shoulder as much of the blame as anyone. The Wooden Award nominee has become a gunner from long-range, and missed a hurried effort (one of his 8 3-point misses on the night) late in the game when Missouri had been steadily coming back. “We (had been) driving the ball, and we needed to keep driving the ball,” Haith said, noting there was plenty of time left. “We said that in timeouts.” The Tigers are 0-4 in true road games this season.
  2. “They’re real good.” -Frank Martin. He was talking, of course, about Florida, right after his Gamecocks succumbed to a nearly 40-point loss at their hands. The Gators, sporting a 7-0 conference record with a point differential of over 28, are making a mockery of the SEC. They’ve beaten up on the bottom of the league, but the sheer dominance of their victories, not to mention the shellacking of 17th-ranked Missouri, indicates that weak opposition isn’t the only explanation for their success. Florida isn’t unbeatable, but their balanced offense (the nation’s 4th most efficient) is somewhat of a safeguard against an unexpected upset. Four players average more than 11.0 points a game, and a fifth (Scottie Wilbekin), was just named SEC Player of the Week. Even if the odds are defied and every Gator has an off shooting night, coach Billy Donovan can just fall back on the 2nd best defense in the country. Your move SEC.
  3. Tennessee will be likely be shorthanded for their trip to Fayetteville this weekend. Junior guard Trae Golden suffered an injury to his right hamstring late in the Volunteers victory over Vanderbilt and is unlikely to recover by Saturday. “It’s tough for our team,” Vols head coach Cuonzo Martin said. “I thought he had really been assertive (lately) with the ball. So it’s tough for our team, but more importantly, it’s tough for Trae. He wants to be out there. He’s upset about it. But we have to keep moving.” Hometown walk-on Brandon Lopez should be the next in line to pick up the slack for Golden. The early scouting report on him features a lot of the standard buzzwords for walk-ons, so any offensive output will be a bonus. Arkansas’ up-tempo style and the loss of Golden puts points at a premium, so the Volunteers will have to count on Jordan McRae rediscovering his shooting stroke and Jarnell Stokes continuing his recent offensive resurgence.
  4. As if having 12 of your shots blocked by one person wasn’t painful enough, the hits keep on coming for Ole Miss in the aftermath of their loss to Kentucky. Reserve forward Aaron Jones suffered a torn ACL while senior guard Nick Williams re-aggravated a foot injury. Jones is obviously done for the year, while there is no timetable for Willams’ return. This represents a serious blow to the Rebels’ depth, affording coach Andy Kennedy no game time to adjust his rotation before traveling to Gainesville this weekend. Freshman Derrick Millinghaus, who has seen his minutes dwindle since the start of conference play, should see more time, while classmate Terry Brutus seems like the best bet to contribute a few minutes in the paint.
  5. I said a few months ago that we wouldn’t mention this guy on this microsite again, but circumstances are forcing my hand. Big Blue Nation favorite and apparent troll Billy Gillispie will be in attendance for Kentucky’s trip to College Station this weekend. In response to Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy‘s invite, Gillispie said “Actually, I’m playing golf [in College Station] on Friday. I said, ‘Who are y’all playing Saturday?’ They said, ‘Kentucky,’ and so I said, ‘I think I’ll go.’ But it’s no big deal.” Kentucky players will be focused on stopping Aggie guard Elston Turner, who scored 40 in his trip to Rupp Arena, but Wildcat fans will certainly be paying attention to an individual on the sideline. Expect one of ESPN’s cameras to be attached to Billy, treatment usually reserved at Kentucky games for Ashley Judd.
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Morning Five: 02.01.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 1st, 2013

morning5

  1. If people were upset by the NCAA using a federal bankruptcy proceeding to obtain information for their own investigation into Miami they may be surprised to learn that at least one (anonymous) NCAA investigator claims that the NCAA did nothing wrong. In addition, the anonymous individual also questioned NCAA President Mark Emmert’s assertion that he was unaware of the practices that were used in the Miami investigation. At this point we are not sure where this case is heading, but continue to assert that the NCAA would definitely benefit from some more transparency. As for the case itself, the close of the article sums it up best: “The only certainty? This mess keeps getting messier.”
  2. When we brought you the financial information about Tennessee a few days ago we assumed that the atrocious situation there was somewhat unique. It turns out that the Volunteers are not alone as a new report questions the financial viability of Louisville‘s YUM! Center. The author of the study (found here in PDF format or you can check out their entire website) say that the root of the problem was unrealistic expectation for bond sales used to finance the arena and was compounded by a very friendly agreement with Louisville. According to the author of the study the YUM! Center costs $92,000 to operate per day and will end up costing taxpayers $839 million over the next 40 years. We are assuming this is not the last that we have heard of this issue.
  3. It appears that the James Southerland saga will not be resolved for another week as Syracuse has set Southerland’s appeal to regain his eligibility for next week. The date and time of the appeal has not been announced, but Southerland will miss Saturday’s game against Pittsburgh and Monday’s game against Notre Dame. Interestingly Southerland’s appeal will be heard by a panel from Syracuse not the NCAA. We are not privy to all the details of Southerland’s suspension, but based on the information that has been released it appears to resolve around a tutor helping him write some or all of a paper. We also are not clear how this decision will factor into any potential investigation by the NCAA, but the decision next week will hopefully add some clarity to this.
  4. On Saturday the epicenter of college basketball will be in Bloomington, Indiana and in the lead up to that Dana O’Neil provides us with an excellent piece on the importance of basketball on life in Indiana. While most fans are somewhat familiar with the impact of basketball in the state, few have experienced and O’Neil provides a great insight into how it permeates life there. Everybody knows about Indiana, Butler, and Hoosiers (the movie not the team), but as O’Neil notes there is so much more to Indiana’s love affair with basketball than just what you see on television.
  5. If you thought that Kentucky fans were pumped to take on Marshall Henderson just wait until Saturday when they go to Texas A&M and will have a very special spectator–Billy Gillispie. The decision by Gillispie to come to the game after being invited by Billy Kennedy is an interesting one since Gillispie left Kentucky literally running out the door. I guess that Gillispie assumes that he built enough goodwill in College Station during his three seasons there that it was a good place to make a public appearance. Still we don’t understand the need to make Gillispie a spectacle against his former team. Normally we would assume that the home crowd would cheer Gillispie loudly enough to drown out the opposing crowd, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see Big Blue Nation make a trip down to Texas just to jeer Gillispie one more time.
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Texas Tech and TCU Forming a Historically Bad Big 12 Tandem

Posted by dnspewak on January 14th, 2013

It seems almost unfair to rag on Texas Tech and TCU. The Red Raiders had to boot Billy Gillispie out of Lubbock this fall and didn’t have time to find a permanent coach, so they’re playing the entire season under interim coach Chris Walker. The record will show that Gillispie “resigned,” but there was nothing peaceful about his exit. It was a disaster, and it’s no wonder a young team with a boatload of newcomers has already lost to McNeese State at home, not to mention conference foe Baylor by 34 points. Meanwhile, the Horned Frogs have a more stable first-year coach in Trent Johnson, but even he knew his program’s transition to the Big 12 would take a significant amount of time and energy. In Year One of his rebuilding project, he’s dealt with a number of injuries, and his team is now 0-3 in the league. The worst part? TCU managed to lose to Texas Tech in the Big 12′s version of the Toilet Bowl.

Texas Tech and TCU Battled Over the Weekend in Big 12 Action

Texas Tech and TCU Battled Over the Weekend in Big 12 Action

So we’ve buttered you up by giving Texas Tech and TCU excuses for losing, and they’re certainly valid. Now, though, it’s time to take a look at just how bad the two programs are historically in terms of the RPI. The RPI figures are hardly scientific. The flaws are well-known, actually. But to repeat the rhetoric of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, the RPI is a decent way to categorize teams. Using RealTimeRPI, which provides RPI data dating back to 2003-04, the numbers shows that Texas Tech and TCU form the worst Big 12 tandem in close to a decade. Texas Tech’s RPI sits at a robust #246 right now, whereas TCU sits at #222. Here are all of the sub-200 RPI teams since 2003-04 in the Big 12.

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Big 12 M5: Black Friday Edition

Posted by dnspewak on November 23rd, 2012

  1. Billy Gillispie is long gone from Texas Tech, and it’s doubtful his name will ever arise again in Big 12 circles for as long as he’s alive. And yet he’s still having an enormous impact on our game, even as he sits at home without a head coaching job. As CBS’ Gary Parrish astutely points out, Gillispie is almost solely responsible for the new preseason tournament formats in college basketball. After his Kentucky team lost to Gardner-Webb in the regional site of the 2K Sports Classic at Rupp Arena, GWU advanced to Madison Square Garden and left thousands of UK fans scrambling to cancel flights and sell tickets. Since then, only the Preseason NIT Tip-Off has kept the old format– you know, the one where the team that actually wins advances to the Garden. Parrish interviewed Delaware coach Monte Ross about his team’s experience in the Garden after knocking off Virginia in Charlottesville, and you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who thinks his squad didn’t deserve to make the trip to NYC this year. Tickets and flights be damned.
  2. Speaking of New York City and that NIT Tip-Off, there’s a biggie tonight at the Garden between Kansas State and Michigan. After dispatching a really good Delaware team with difficulty, the Wildcats get to throw down with a top five team on national television in perhaps the most historic venue in basketball. Tell us, guys. How do you feel? “We’re privileged to be playing in Madison Square Garden… We came here to prove a point, me and my teammates and our coaching staff. We’re just ready to play,” guard Angel Rodriguez told The Wichita Eagle. If Kansas State wins, it’ll be near impossible to leave this team out of the Top 25.
  3. After Maryland and Rutgers announced their departures from the ACC to the Big Ten earlier this week, it started up the whole Realignment Apocalypse firestorm again. Kill us now. According to the Lawrence Journal-World, there’s some sort of rumor the Big Ten might now try to complete its conference by adding North Carolina and Kansas. That’s a rumor Bill Self laughed off immediately. “I don’t even think that’s worth discussing,” he told the paper, adding that the idea of North Carolina playing in a conference without Duke “makes no sense.” Which is hilarious, because Kansas and Missouri no longer play in the same conference either.
  4. There’s no Marcus Smart or Le’Bryan Nash in this class, but Oklahoma State officially announced its 2013-14 recruiting class on Thursday. It ain’t bad. Headlined by four-star Detrick Mostella, Travis Ford signed four prospects with some size (relative to their positions) and promise to them. Mostella, a 6’3” combo guard with major potential, might be the centerpiece, but Jeffrey Carroll and Leyton Hammonds are both solid wings who might be able to make up for the expected loss of Smart and Nash (whenever that may be). Ford also added some much-needed size with 6’10” juco center Gary Gaskins.
  5. This article’s a little old, and it’s the 800th story written about the tragic situation former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson faced, but it’s worth your time. Very well-written, and unique compared to some of the other pieces on Robinson. He may not play for the Jayhawks anymore, but as his NBA career begins to soar, it’s always nice to keep an eye on a guy like this.
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Big 12 Team Preview #9: Texas Tech Red Raiders

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 31st, 2012

Over the next two weeks, we’ll bring you the obligatory team preview here at the Big 12 microsite. Monday, Danny Spewak (@dspewak) took care of previewing the TCU Horned Frogs. Today, Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso) previews the cellar-dwellers from a year ago: Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were not a unanimous choice among the Big 12 microsite writers to finish ninth in the conference but we’re guessing we still won’t find much argument with this selection either. 

The Skinny: 

  • 2011-12 Record: 8-23 record, 1-17 in the Big 12
  • Key Contributors Lost: G Javarez Willis, F Robert Lewandowski
  • Head Coach: Chris Walker, 1st season
  • Projected Finish: 9th

Walker now makes three different coaches in three seasons. (Associated Press/Zach Long)

Interim head coach Chris Walker undoubtedly has a tough act to follow but at the same time he doesn’t. Former head coach Billy Gillispie had as tumultuous of a season that a coach can have. He broke NCAA practice rules more than once, was reprimanded by his athletic director for those trangressions, and his team stunk it up on the basketball court. Since the bar isn’t set very high at this point, I’m sure Walker can win more than eight games and look somewhat competitive in Big 12 play. This is Walker’s first opportunity at a head coaching job but like many first-timers, he too was a well-traveled assistant coach. He started off at Loyola Marymount in 1992 (this was the post-Paul Westhead/Kimble/Gathers era), left for Vanderbilt in 1996, went to Pepperdine in 1999, back to his alma mater Villanova in 2000, then headed to UMass in 2001, before going to New Mexico in 2007, and then back to Villanova in 2009 before arriving last season in Lubbock. For a man thrust into as awkward a situation as any, Walker is saying all the right things and then some. On “wearing” the interim tag:

“It’s all about attitude. I was remarking to somebody the other day there are a lot of interim coaches out there, they just don’t know it. I look at this situation, and people look at it as if I’ve been diagnosed with cancer. It took me six months to live. I’ve really flipped it and said it’s six months to give. I’m head coach for the first time in the Big 12. I’m going to give everything I have to the University, to the players and the community of Lubbock.”

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More Gillispie Information Comes to Light Via University Emails

Posted by dnspewak on October 26th, 2012

There are many terrific things about our country’s democracy. The endless amount of political attack ads during election season are highly entertaining, our election results are actually legitimate, and our president flies all around the nation in a sweet airplane named Air Force One. The very best part about American democracy, however, is perhaps our nation’s open records laws. When you screw up or have information pertinent to the public interest, we’re there to call you out via police reports, court documents, and, as Penn State knows so well, e-mails.

E-mails Show Some Interesting Information Regarding Gillispie

That brings us to Texas Tech‘s men’s basketball program. USA Today‘s open records request of the university’s emails during the Billy Gillispie scandal reveals a few tidbits of intriguing material. Unfortunately for all you sadists out there, this isn’t the Freeh Report, and there’s no evidence of wrongdoing or mass scandal on the part of the athletic department, but correspondence between university officials sheds a little light into how the situation went down. According to the article, an assistant to the chancellor of the university forwarded articles from ESPN and CBS Sports to the Board of Curators, in addition to a personal letter from the mother of a 17-year-old who alleged verbal abuse from Gillispie. The most interesting aspect of these emails, though, deals with the practice violations.

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SEC M5: 10.25.12 Edition

Posted by DPerry on October 25th, 2012

  1. Kentucky took to the Rupp Arena floor Wednesday night for its annual Blue-White scrimmage. Over 12,000 fans were in attendance, with many more catching the action on Fox Sports Net. The new-look Wildcats put on a high-flying, high-scoring show, but coach John Calipari downplayed the performance. “Folks, let me just say this,” he told fans after the final buzzer, “thanks for being here tonight. Can you see how far we have to go?” This isn’t surprising of course, as Calipari downplaying his team’s level of quality before the season seems to be his modus operandi. Big performances from freshmen Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, and Nerlens Noel will dominate headlines, but the upperclassmen showed promise as well. Kyle Wiltjer displayed improved strength and dropped a pretty baby hook over Noel, while transfer Julius Mays showed a quick and accurate trigger from long range. Even Jon Hood, coming off a knee injury, looked energetic and shot the ball efficiently. If one of these older players can step into the leadership role vacated by Darius Miller, Kentucky may not be as far away as their coach believes.
  2. Attendence figures have been woeful for South Carolina over the past few seasons, but Frank Martin has designs on quickly changing that. In a meeting with members of the student body on Monday, the new Gamecock coach discussed ideas to increase fan interest. “I’ll make myself available for anything the students want,” he said. “I need you guys in that building.” Martin isn’t the type to shy away from a challenge. In 2007, he took over a Kansas State program that hadn’t been to the NCAA Tournament in over a decade and promptly led the Wildcats to four bids in six seasons. Turning around a moribund South Carolina program might be even tougher. The overall lack of talent on the roster makes an immediate reversal of fortunes unlikely, but Martin’s willingness to reach out to a jaded fanbase is a step in the right direction.
  3. Want to hear what your coach thinks about your team’s chances this season? Your questions will be answered today, as the league’s coaches gather in Hoover, Alabama, for SEC Media Day. The story from last year’s event was the unwavering confidence of Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings, who seemed to take issue with the fact that his team wasn’t being ranked ahead of the inexperienced Kentucky Wildcats. After losing every key contributor from a 25-win team, how will the Commodores’ coach react to this year’s 10th place prediction for his squad?
  4. New LSU coach Johnny Jones got a jump on the Media Day festivities when he addressed local media in Baton Rouge yesterday. “We have really been pleased with the last few days of practice,” said Jones. “Unfortunately, we have had a few players go down with injuries which are somewhat of a little setback. Hopefully, we will get them back on the floor in the near future within the next few days. That would be beneficial for us because of our lack of numbers.” Any hint of injury on an already thin squad is troubling news for LSU fans, since even a full-strength Tiger team won’t win many conference games this season. Jones will be counting on good fortune on the injury front to stay away from the bottom of the standings. If he runs into some bad luck, however, he can ask Andrew Del Piero for help finding practice bodies. A couple of those trombone players looked like they had some size.
  5. Details surrounding Billy Gillispie’s dismissal from Texas Tech continue to emerge, and they aren’t pretty. E-mails obtained by USA Today indicate that the former Kentucky coach regularly ignored practice time restrictions, most notably on one October weekend in 2011 when the team “practiced for 7 hours, 15 minutes on Saturday, and 6 hours, 30 minutes on Sunday”. His tenure in the SEC was an unmitigated disaster, and his failed campaign at Texas Tech only highlights how unfit Gillispie was to lead the league’s most prestigious program. It seems unlikely that another school will take a chance on him in the near future (if at all), so when the controversy over his improprieties in Lubbock fades away, we hope that you won’t have to read Gillispie’s name on this site for long, long time.
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Welcome Back to the Big 12 Microsite!

Posted by dnspewak on October 8th, 2012

Six months after Kansas fell a game short of capturing a national championship, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do in the Big 12 after an offseason of coaching changes, scandals and conference realignment.

The Big 12 Was Last Seen Running Into a Juggernaut…

RTC’s Big 12 microsite underwent some personnel changes as well during the summer months, with newcomers Kory Carpenter (@Kory_Carpenter) and Nate Kotisso (@natekotisso) joining grizzled veteran Danny Spewak (@dspewak) to form the most dynamic trio the Internet has ever seen. No word on where the coaches will pick us in the preseason polls — hey, Kory and Nate make for a heck of a recruiting class — but we’re excited to bring you a constant stream of Big 12 news and analysis throughout the season. As Midnight Madness approaches this weekend, we’ll follow all the storylines — ranging from the post-apocalyptic and post-Billy Gillispie situation at Texas Tech, the arrival of TCU and West Virginia and Kansas’ quest for yet another Big 12 championship. Stick with us for the next six months and we promise not to disappoint you.

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Morning Five: 10.04.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2012

  1. As everyone knows by now, the ACC is expanding from a 12-team basketball league to a 15-team behemoth. This move means that a semi-logical scheduling approach that included 18 conference games necessitates a substantial reconsideration. After toying with the idea of a nine-game football conference season and an even bigger basketball conference season, the league has settled on eight games in football and 18 games in basketball — so in an aggregate sense, no change. The key hoops difference is that each school will have two permanent partners that it plays home-and-home games with every season. The remaining 14 games will consist of two other rotating home-and-homes and single games against 10 other schools (five home and five away). This system ensures some degree of competitive balance in that every school will see every other league school at least once per season. New members Syracuse and Pittsburgh will play each other annually (SU will play former Big East mate Boston College every year too), while Notre Dame will be paired with its natural rival BC along with Georgia Tech (an odd duo).
  2. Sticking with the ACC, the good news is that Roy Williams is recovering nicely from a surgical procedure on his right kidney a couple of weeks ago — good enough to have flown to Chicago on Tuesday to visit the home of Class of 2013 stud, Jabari Parker. The not-as-good news is that Williams on Wednesday underwent a second procedure — this time on his left kidney — to determine whether a second tumor is also a non-cancerous mass like the first. If Williams receives more good news shortly, he’ll be more than ready to begin his tenth season at the helm of his alma mater a little over a week from now. If he’s not as lucky this time around, he’ll likely need another procedure to remove the affected tissue which could produce a minor setback for the gung-ho coach as he enters the official start of practice. When he’ll be back at 100% is still in question, but whether the 62-year old coach is walking into a frustrating season filled with pointed questions about his team’s academic prowess over the last decade is something that seems to be lurking on the horizon.
  3. One now-retired coach who knows a little something about receiving pointed questions and dealing with health scares is former Connecticut head man, Jim Calhoun. This news felt a lot like “no, but thanks for asking…”, but Connecticut says it has no plans to name its planned basketball training center after Calhoun, even though the program was essentially as relevant as Fairfield College before he arrived there nearly three decades ago. Athletic Director Ward Manuel put a punctuated end to some rumors that had spread this week, stating that the naming of the building had consistently been contemplated as a money-raising opportunity. One of Calhoun’s emeritus roles for the upcoming year will be to shore up additional funding for the facility, which is about $10 million short of where it needs to be to break ground on the project. Frankly, even though such a gesture would cause Geno Auriemma to lose his farkin’ mind (no, seriously, he would), Gampel Pavilion should probably eventually be re-named for the man who legitimized UConn basketball. Maybe they can compromise and call it Geno-Calhoun Pavilion.
  4. The Billy Gillispie era has come and gone at Texas Tech, yet with only days left before official practice begins, the school has yet to decide on a full-time interim head coach (Chris Walker has been the daily operations interim head coach since Gillispie resigned). According to Andy Katz, the school is expected to make a decision in a matter of days, but if athletic director Kirby Hocutt knows what he’s planning to do, he’s keeping it close to the vest. Katz says that the only reasonable choice for a program that has gone through so much turmoil is to promote Walker and spend the year evaluating him on stabilizing the program and fielding a team that competes hard every night. If his performance is based on what is likely to become a scarcity of wins, well, he’s a dead man walking after this season. Is Bob Knight still taking calls?
  5. Commitment days are fun no matter the players announcing, but this evening’s ESPNU special focusing on the Harrison twins (Aaron and Andrew) is filled with all kinds of drama. First, we’ve got the fact that the brothers are of course twins — a package deal of top five players the likes of which we may have never seen before (CollegeHoopedia has a comprehensive list of NCAA twins here). Next, we have a pairing of one school’s shoe company power and influence (Under Armour) versus, um, another school’s shoe company power and influence (Nike). Gary Parrish breaks down that particular dichotomy here. Then we have the issue of the Calipari effect — which, depending on the side of the fence you’re on — represents either shady backdoor dealings, or unbelievable marketing and player development. The national championship coach just doesn’t lose out on many recruits he targets anymore. Finally, we have a report of an 11th-hour lunch meeting between Mark Turgeon and the twins’ father, which could suggest that the deal was closed or that Maryland was making a last-ditch effort. The one thing we can be sure of at this writing is this — if Kentucky wins, Maryland fans will accuse Calipari of cheating to get their services (see: Davis, Anthony); if Maryland wins, Kentucky fans will cite the shady Under Armour influence to get their services (see: Muhammad, Shabazz). It’s going to be an interesting evening.
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Morning Five: 09.24.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 24th, 2012

  1. Andy Katz reported on Friday that the Saint Mary’s men’s basketball program is currently under investigation by the NCAA for potential recruiting violations of an as-yet unknown variety. Few additional details were forthcoming over the weekend, but what little smoke that there appears to exist is surrounding former assistant coach David Patrick (currently an assistant at LSU), an Australian who was instrumental in recruiting former star guard Patty Mills to the campus. The tiny school that is coached by Randy Bennett has become one of the pre-eminent mid-major programs in America in large part due to its Australian talent pipeline — defending WCC POY and Olympian Matthew Dellavedova is only the latest and greatest Gael product of Oz — it makes you wonder if the attraction to Moraga, California, involved incentives beyond a beautiful campus surrounded by verdant hills. We’ll have more on this topic later this morning.
  2. Now that the Billy Gillispie era has officially ended at Texas Tech, the university is left picking up the pieces of its reputation and trying to figure out what to do next. It’s not like there’s a lot of tradition or much fan support for the basketball program anyway, but the danger of making a poor decision now is that it could realistically embed the program at the bottom of the Big 12 for the next half-decade. Nevertheless, the school hopes to name an interim head coach for the upcoming season within the next two weeks, and assistant head coach Chris Walker by virtue of his association with Gillispie’s antics may not be the choice for the permanent job. Andy Katz suggested three viable candidates last week — Rob Evans, Doc Sadler, and Reggie Theus — all of whom have significant and successful head coaching experience along with ties to the region that would help the program transition to a new, and hopefully, better era.
  3. Oregon received great news over the weekend as Dana Altman’s program reportedly has received a transfer commitment from former Rice star Arsalan Kazemi, a double-double machine who will apply for a hardship waiver to play immediately. Kazemi is notable as the first Iranian to play Division I NCAA basketball, but the “Beast of the Middle East” is certainly more than a demographic footnote — the 6’7″, 220-pounder consistently pounds the glass as one of the best defensive rebounders in America, and his free throw rate is annually one of the best in the nation. We’re not sure the basis for Kazemi’s waiver request to play this season, but if approved, an all-senior front line of Tony Woods, EJ Singler, and Kazemi would be one of the best in the Pac-12, if not the nation.
  4. It’s not very often that you’ll read a piece from a national columnist encouraging his readers to rise up as one and not let an issue drop out of the collective consciousness. And yet, that’s exactly what CBSSports.com‘s Gregg Doyel does when he outlines what he calls the “hypocrisy of the NCAA” in predicting that absolutely nothing will happen to Duke as a result of the Lance Thomas jewelry loan situation. Doyel is a flashpoint writer — pretty much every major fan base thinks he has a specific beef with them, when in reality being critical is his style — but he has the status to make something his crusade if he chooses to do so. We’re guessing that many of the enemies he’s made over the years would turn on a dime and become his biggest fans if he actually was capable of nailing the Blue Devil program on this one.
  5. We’re willing to root for Northwestern to finally make the NCAA Tournament as much as the next guy, but the storyline gets a little tiresome when every piece of news surrounding the program is viewed through that particular prism. Still, the weekend news that junior guard JerShon Cobb has been suspended for the entire 2012-13 season because of a violation of team policy has to be disconcerting to Wildcat fans. Cobb has been a part-time starter who offers solid offensive production (career 7.3 PPG) in around 20 minutes per contest; his removal from the lineup changes the complexion of a team already anticipating the replacement of the offense of its former star, John Shurna. In a loaded Big Ten conference where a .500 record is a reasonable goal, Bill Carmody will need to find additional offense from unexpected places if his team is to have any shot at getting the NCAA albatross off its back.
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Morning Five: 09.21.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2012

  1. On Thursday afternoon, Billy Gillispie trumped the inevitable by submitting his resignation from the head coaching position at Texas Tech, citing health concerns. It’s been a wild three-week ride for Gillispie and his employer, beginning with a frantic 911 call made from the coach’s house followed by near-mutiny conditions among the players, two serious hospitalizations, a directive from the university to stay away from the program, and finally, yesterday’s very predictable conclusion. We’ll have more on the meteoric rise and tragic fall of Gillispie later today (Dan Wetzel has a great read in that vein too), but at least one national columnist writes that Texas Tech’s unwillingness to monitor the troubled head coach after his prior troubles places just as much culpability on its management as it does on Gillispie himself.
  2. From bad news to good on the coaching front, as just one day after UNC head coach Roy Williams successfully endured a three-and-a-half hour procedure to remove a tumor from his right kidney, he headed home. Three weeks to the day before practices open around the country, it’s still unclear whether Williams will need another procedure for a tumor on his left kidney or if there will be any follow-up work necessary related to Wednesday’s surgery. It’s difficult to speculate too much about Williams’ prognosis short of facts about his specific medical condition, but InsideCarolina.com reached out to a former practicing urologist for additional insight into the situation. In short, he thinks from what he’s read and heard that Williams should be fine — with the caveat that he’s simply reading what is publicy available like the rest of us. We certainly hope he’s right.
  3. Much has been made this summer and fall about all the eligibility issues facing star recruits such as Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, Providence’s Ricardo Ledo, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, and others. After the good news was released that NC State’s Rodney Purvis will be eligible to play this year, Thursday brought us a report from Adam Zagoria that UCLA’s Kyle Anderson is expected to be cleared by the NCAA prior to the start of practice in mid-October. Anderson was the best player on the Bruins’ recent trip to China (Muhammad did not play), and he will without question have a huge role in the height of the ceiling that Ben Howland’s team can reach next season. Hey, we want to see everyone play next season — the game suffers when the star talent doesn’t get a chance to suit up.
  4. It remains to be seen whether we’ll be having the same discussion with Jabari Parker this time next season, but let’s hope not. Regardless of that, the Class of 2013 superstar must really be a Kevin Ollie fan, as he recently added Connecticut to his list of 10 (now 11) schools. In fact, Ollie already has a home visit scheduled with the Parker family next week, following up on visits from Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski at the end of this week. According to the linked article, Parker may be looking at narrowing his list as soon as this weekend, and may be ready to make his decision by the fall signing period in November.
  5. With Notre Dame’s move to the ACC coming in the next couple of years, Irish head coach Mike Brey is already looking forward with scheduling and if his desires come to fruition, we should just go ahead and pencil in Notre Dame as the school with the #1 RPI rating for the foreseeable future. In addition to the mandated 18-game ACC schedule that his team will have to play, Brey would like to keep home-and-home series with several of the Catholic Big East schools in cities where the Notre Dame name still carries quite a bit of weight. The five he listed are: Marquette, DePaul, Georgetown, Villanova, and St. John’s. Presuming the Irish remain locked into the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, there won’t be much room left for the Savannah States of the world.
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