Big East Morning Five: 02.23.12 Edition

Posted by Patrick Prendergast on February 23rd, 2012

  1. Temple may become the next all-sport member of the Big East and could begin conference play as early as next season.  Currently Temple is a member of the MAC in football whose commissioner Jon A. Steinbrecher confirmed yesterday that he was aware the Big East and Temple were discussing a reunion.  Temple played football in the Big East from 1991-2004 before being jettisoned. West Virginia now leaving for the Big 12 next year after a legal settlement, the Big East is short a team which accounts for the hastened Temple timing. If the Big East and Temple ultimately come to terms, they will have to sit down with Steinbrecher and the MAC to negotiate cost and timing as MAC bylaws currently require two football seasons advance notice and a $2.5 million exit fee.
  2. Another reason for the perceived urgency around the Big East’s discussions with Temple is that Boise State confirmed yesterday that it will remain in the Mountain West for another year.  The school was believed to be an option to fill the void created by West Virginia’s Big 12 departure for the upcoming football season.  The Big East and Boise State discussed an earlier move but the school’s President, Bob Kustra, cited “too many obstacles to overcome” and said accelerating the schedule “would not be fiscally responsible.” Boise State will become a football-only member of the Big East for the 2012-13 season. While it has not yet been finalized, Boise’s other athletic programs are likely to compete in the Western Athletic Conference in all remaining sports, except wrestling which is a Pac-12 sport for the Broncos.
  3. As anticipated, Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun, who has been on medical leave since February 3 due to spinal stenosis, met with his doctor yesterday to review progress and discuss options that ranged anywhere from a possible return to the sideline this weekend to season-ending surgery.  As it turns out Calhoun will have a surgical procedure performed next Monday but he still has hopes of rejoining his team this season. The procedure will keep him out at least another two games — Saturday against Syracuse and Tuesday at Providence.  It is not known for certain whether Calhoun will be able to return for the Huskies’ regular season finale on March 3 against Pittsburgh.  Despite the rest and treatment over the past few weeks, Calhoun has remained in pain so the intent of the procedure is to alleviate his condition.
  4. If you are scoring at home it’s Syracuse and Jim Boeheim: 1, Bobby Davis and Mike Lang: 0.  New York State Supreme Court judge Brian DeJoseph ruled yesterday that the slander case brought by Davis and Lang against Boeheim and SU will be moved from New York City to Onondaga County (NY). Attorneys for Davis and Lang filed the suit in New York City saying that it would be impossible to get a fair trial in the Syracuse area due to the stature of Orange basketball and the strong connection between the university and its community. Boeheim and Syracuse countered the case should remain local because none of the participants reside near the city. Davis and Lang have accused former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine of sexually molesting them and are accusing Boeheim of slander for comments he made about their motives in the Fine matter.  None of the named parties were in court on Wednesday where DeJoseph ruled that attorneys for the prosecution failed to prove their argument.  The decision will not be appealed per a statement from Gloria Allred, one of the attorneys representing Davis and Lang.
  5. Louisville freshman Chane Behanan likely had tonight plugged into his smart phone calendar for some time because he is heading home to Cincinnati when his Cardinals the floor at Cincinnati. It will represent a homecoming for the forward, who prepped at Cincinnati’s Aiken High School.  However, Behanan could draw the ire of or at least a little ribbing from some Bearcat faithful as they will remember that Behanan committed to Cincinnati after his freshman year before de-committing in his junior year.  While it is extremely common for a recruit to change his mind before signing with a team, the fact that Behanan was a hometown star could shift some attention his way tonight.  Cincinnati has its own home grown hero in senior center Yancy Gates who attended local Withrow High School.  Behanan and Gates’ teams faced off in high school and Behanan said he has never gotten the better of Gates. “That was a big rivalry every time we played against each other,” Behanan told the Louisville Courier-Journal. “Me and him always went head-to-head and I mean, I never beat him so hopefully that will change.”
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Big East Morning Five: 12.14.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 14th, 2011

  1. News from the Bernie Fine saga has slowed to a trickle in recent weeks but that doesn’t mean it is done causing Syracuse headaches. Today brought word that accusers Mike Lang and Bobby Davis have retained noted publicity hound Gloria Allred to sue the university and Jim Boeheim for defamation. It is difficult to feel for Boeheim in this situation because he brought it upon himself with his strong comments in the wake of the initial news. If you thought Boeheim and his team were going to face distractions before, things are probably going to get a lot worse now that Allred will have microphones in front of her face. The most intriguing dynamic in all of this is that the Orange are good enough and deep enough to overcome these serious obstacles, but we will have to wait to see how they handle the microscope.
  2. Seton Hall is off to a great start at 8-1 this season and they should be getting more help in the frontcourt when talented freshman Brandon Mobley returnsafter he was cleared to play Sunday against Mercer. Mobley is a skilled offensive player but Pirates’ fans should temper their expectations as it will take time for him to adjust to live game-action. At the same time, Kevin Willard’s team is thin at the forward position and adding a player like Mobley will give him some flexibility.
  3. After Temple students taunted Villanova with eight roll-out signs and beat the Wildcats in their latest annual matchup, maybe Villanova should start letting its students bring signs into the games from now on. It can’t hurt. The Wildcats are off to a lackluster start and even needed to come back from a halftime deficit to beat Boston University last night. It certainly doesn’t look like much has changed for Jay Wright and his team after last season’s late meltdown. Mouphtao Yarou is quickly becoming a solid two-way big man but Maalik Wayns reminds many of Corey Fisher, and it is because of his shot selection and penchant for turnovers rather than his star qualities. The team can still make the NCAA Tournament but they are young and it may be another year or two before they are true contenders again.
  4. I love Andy Glockner from Sports Illustrated and there is nothing wrong with his latest article, but I was hoping for a theme less obvious than  ”Connecticut is getting really good again.” As always, Glockner excellently analyzes UConn’s first nine games and highlights the emergence of Ryan Boatright and Andre Drummond as big reasons for the team’s recent success. But I am not buying the take that this team isn’t generating a lot of buzz, especially considering they had a preseason first-team All-American, another preseason Freshman of the Year favorite, and a preseason Top 5 ranking. They haven’t really surprised anybody, as they remain a very good team and a national title contender.
  5. The DePaul Blue Demons don’t spend much time in the focus of Big East basketball fans, but Oliver Purnell is starting to get the resurrection of the program going, beginning with recruiting. Freshman Jamee Crockett is an excellent example of Purnell’s early work. Now a starter, Crockett is becoming a consistent scorer for the Blue Demons and his athleticism is a welcome spark for a team trying to compete in one of the nation’s most difficult conferences. He probably won’t make a big difference this season, but it is still a good sign for Purnell and his ongoing rebuilding effort.
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Big East Morning Five: 12.02.11 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on December 2nd, 2011

  1. We know there is only so much of the Bernie Fine scandal that people are willing to stomach, but like it or not, the story isn’t going away for awhile. For those interested in the latest developments, Syracuse Chancellor, Nancy Cantor, wrote a short but detailed open letter to USA Today explaining the university’s decision to fire Fine and why it didn’t happen sooner. The crux of the letter is that the SU claims it didn’t know about the recorded conversation between accuser Bobby Davis and Fine’s wife, Laurie. Cantor basically explained that if Syracuse had been made aware of the tape’s existence earlier, Fine would have been fired at that time. She also calls out ESPN and the Syracuse Post-Standard, saying, “those who held onto the tape for nearly 10 years owe everyone an explanation”. Both ESPN and the Post-Standard have offered their rationale for not releasing the tape earlier, but for some people, that still isn’t enough to be fully exonerated. It is hard to paint Syracuse as a university in a negative light. Cantor is justifiably trying to do everything she can to make it clear how different this case is from the Penn State scandal, and it certainly seems like the news outlets are the people who are under the microscope now, an interesting turn of events given all that has happened in the past month.
  2. Even after all of the unnecessary attention he has placed on himself in recent days thanks to his use of social media, disgruntled Connecticut center Alex Oriakhi continues to get himself in trouble using Twitter. First, it was a since-deleted tweet where he called Jim Calhoun a “mumu,” which Oriakhi said is Nigerian for boss. Pretty much everyone else disagreed and said the word means idiot. Apparently, Oriakhi isn’t even the only member of his own family to struggle with the perils of social media, as both sister and father have gone after The UConn Blog after the outlet wrote a story about the twitter controversy. Personally, while I think that the Oriakhi family only made things worse by going after a blogger, I also think this is being made out to be a bigger deal than it really is. I agree that Oriakhi is a captain and veteran leader of the Huskies and as such, should be acting far more mature than he is. But I think to say that his father’s and sister’s comments make Alex and Connecticut look bad by extension is stretching things quite a bit. Most families do not enjoy negative coverage of their children. I don’t think there was anything unfairly negative in either of the stories, but I think the real story here is that Oriakhi and Jim Calhoun need to sit down and work this out. No matter what people believe, UConn needs a happy and focused Alex Oriakhi, and if he plans on continuing his basketball career at the next level, he is going to need to drop this whole malcontent act and start earning his playing time back. This is exactly the kind of non-troversy that ends up being a bigger distraction than it should be.
  3. In what might end up being the best game of the SEC/Big East Challenge, Georgetown coach John Thompson, III, said junior forward Hollis Thompson “did what Hollis does,” which apparently is hit long, contested, game-winning three-pointers. It wasn’t a particularly well-played game by either team, but the Hoyas upset No. 12 Alabama 57-55, proved they don’t need to have a star player to be a good team, and chalked up a resume-building win that will pay dividends when Selection Sunday rolls around. Georgetown got 22 points from guard Jason Clark and survived a dunkfest from Alabama’s Tony Mitchell and now have the look of a conference contender after so many predicted a big slide this year following the departures of Chris Wright and Austin Freeman. I would still say this team’s ceiling is probably a Sweet Sixteen appearance given their youth and lack of depth, but there are some talented young players on this Hoyas team, and Clark and Thompson are legitimate offensive threats and two of the better players in the conference. On a completely unrelated note, it baffles me that Georgetown freshman Otto Porter could play 35 minutes of basketball and only score two points, grab two rebounds, and dish one assist. Are we sure he really played 35 minutes? Did his teammates forget he was on the floor?
  4. You didn’t think the Big East was going to let West Virginia have all the legal fun did you? Just one day after WVU filed to have the Big East’s countersuit dismissed because Rhode Island courts shouldn’t rule on West Virginia business, the Big East fired back and filed to have the West Virginia lawsuit dismissed on the basis that the Mountaineers haven’t provided much evidence to prove that conference bylaws are invalid. West Virginia has already paid half of the $5 million exit fee to the conference and they would like to have the lawsuit fast-tracked so a decision can be made by June 30. However, circuit judge Russell Clawges didn’t give a lot of hope that timeline could be honored, and this looks like a legal dogfight that could drag out for a very long time. It makes sense for West Virginia to want to move on as quickly as possible. Both sides have said some not-so-nice things about each other and I seriously doubt at this point the Big East even wants the Mountaineers in the conference, football revenue and all. But their hands are tied by the precedent rolling over could set. Letting West Virginia leave early could impact Syracuse and Pittsburgh, both of whom have also decided to leave the conference, and then the Big East would have a real mess on its hands. Stay tuned, because there will be plenty more of this story as it unfolds.
  5. In dire need of some good news given the uncertainty surrounding their coach’s health and the fact they were just shellacked by Kentucky on the road, St. John’s scored a little victory — at least in theory — when recruit Amir Garrett tweeted he could be suiting up for the Red Storm in just three weeks. If three weeks is in fact an accurate estimate, that means Garrett could return before the conference opener and he would be a welcome addition. This is excellent news for Steve Lavin’s club as their bench is thin and Garrett is an athletic wing player who can guard multiple positions and run the floor. Just don’t expect his arrival to drastically change St. John’s fortunes. This is still a very young team as they showed against Kentucky and at 4-4, they don’t look like a team headed towards the Tournament, especially if Lavin’s health and availability remain in limbo. The good news is that Garrett doesn’t have the look of a one-and-done player, especially considering he also has a bright future in baseball, so getting him on the floor and acclimated to college basketball will only help the Johnnies next season, when the team should be more experienced and also better.
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Bernie Fine Got Fired And What It Means For Jim Boeheim

Posted by mlemaire on November 28th, 2011

When allegations that Syracuse assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine had sexually molested two ball boys broke nearly two weeks ago, head coach Jim Boeheim wasted no time going on the offensive. He vehemently defended his longtime assistant and attacked the accusers saying they were liars who were only after money. Then, yesterday, Fine was fired by the university after a third accuser came forward and a damning ten year-old taped conversation between the initial accuser, Bobby Davis, and Fine’s wife surfaced. Boeheim released a statement last night, and he no longer sounded like the same defiant coach he was when the allegations first broke. In fact, he sounded a lot like a coach furiously backpedaling in an effort to save his job.

After 35 Years Of Coaching At Syracuse, Assistant Bernie Fine Was Fired Last Night.

“The allegations that have come forth today are disturbing and deeply troubling. I am personally very shocked because I have never witnessed any of the activities that have been alleged. I believe the university took the appropriate step tonight,” Boeheim said in the prepared statement. “What is most important is that this matter be fully investigated and that anyone with information be supported to come forward so that the truth can be found. I deeply regret any statements I made that might have inhibited that from occurring or been insensitive to victims of abuse.”

That is a far cry from what Boeheim told the Syracuse Post-Standard when the allegations first broke. Boeheim was asked eleven days ago about the allegations against Fine and his answer didn’t exactly leave room for interpretation. “There’s absolutely no truth, no validity,” Boeheim told the Post-Standard. “I’ve known Bernie for 40-plus years, and I don’t believe in any way, shape or form he would ever even pat a kid on the shoulder. Is that clear enough?”

By giving such an unequivocal response, Boeheim put himself out on the furthest limb on the tree, and it now appears that limb is about to collapse and may bring down Boeheim with it. There are some reliability concerns about the third accuser, 23-year-old Zach Tomaselli, who is accused of sexual assaulting a 14-year-old boy in Maine and who was called a flat-out liar by his estranged father. But there is also the sordid telephone recording between Davis and Laurie Fine in which Fine not only admits she “knows everything that went on” between Davis and her husband, but also admits to having her own sexual relationship with Davis when he was 18 years old.

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ACC Morning Five: 11.18.11 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 18th, 2011

Well, the streak is dead after Maryland decided to shoot less than 20% from the floor (OK, Alabama’s slightly-better-than-decent defense had something to do with it too), and Georgia Tech turned around and lost by double figures to St. Joseph’s in the Charleston Classic. Stephen Schramm of the Fayetteville Observer posted a nice recap of the 26-game winning streak if you want to reminisce. The run was great while it lasted. No worries though, the ACC (or at least North Carolina) is still atop of Luke Winn’s Power Rankings!

  1. ESPN Radio (via Washington Post): Maryland alum Scott Van Pelt sat down with Gary Williams to talk about his relationship and rivalry with Mike Krzyzewski. Williams has fond, competitive memories of playing Coach K’s Duke teams in the early 2000s when both schools were at the top of college basketball. Williams brings up a couple of gut-wrenching losses (including this one). The most interesting piece of the interview might have been the lede of one of Van Pelt’s questions when he mentioned that Williams will be an analyst for the Big Ten Network.
  2. New England Cable News: If you believe his dad, Doc Rivers, Austin Rivers isn’t focused on his future so much as the present. According to the Boston Celtics head coach, Rivers isn’t worried about being one-and-done or the NBA lockout; “He’s more concerned about winning.” Doc Rivers’ interview makes it sound like his son is doing his best to fit into Duke’s system, which should be great news for Blue Devil fans (many of whom were concerned Rivers would try and fit the system to him). Rivers has been mercurial through the first three games, averaging a very inefficient 12.7 PPG.
  3. New York Times: Another potential sexual abuse scandal may headed for college sports, as ESPN reported earlier today that Syracuse police are investigating Bobby Davis’ claims that associate head coach Bernie Fine molested him “hundreds of times” when he was a ball boy for the Orange (starting in the seventh grade). Coming on the heels of the Penn State disaster, Syracuse acted immediately. Fine has been placed on administrative leave while the investigation proceeds. One difference between this and the Jerry Sandusky scandal is that this is a newly opened investigation by the police, not grand jury report. Jim Boeheim has already made some waves by coming to the defense of his longtime assistant coach.
  4. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Mark Gottfried isn’t the only new ACC coach making waves on the recruiting trail. Brian Gregory is quietly putting together a top-15 class headlined by five-star forward Robert Carter. He also still has two scholarships to give (or save for next season when he only has two available). My guess is he’ll use at least one on a point guard in the spring. In their loss last night, the Yellow Jackets only managed four assists to ten turnovers, and only had two players make more than two field goals. Not counting Mfon Udofia and Kammeon Holsey, Georgia Tech starters went a smooth 4-25 from the field.
  5. Orlando Sentinel: It’s safe to say that Bernard James wasn’t impressed with the Seminoles’ defensive effort Wednesday night. His teammates don’t sound impressed either with lots of talk of “lessons” and “growing” from the win. As Leonard Hamilton pointed out, Stetson plays the type of ball that Florida State is most vulnerable to (it runs the dribble drive with lots of shooters). There are more talented teams with similar systems, but I agree with the players that the game should serve as a learning experience (and as a bonus, they did get the win). But these kind of games definitely make you wonder how the Seminoles will fare in conference play.

EXTRA: Apparently the NCAA has its finances online for the world to see (originally Deadspin thought the documents were leaked). If you’ve ever been curious how the NCAA uses the hundreds of millions of dollars generated by college basketball, these documents are worth perusing. It’s an interesting public relations move for the organization to release these documents without publicizing it. But in the wake of all of the recent criticism about NCAA greed, I think releasing the documents was the right choice.

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