Posted by nvr1983 on October 16th, 2014
- Like last year, Chris Walker will be watching the start of Florida‘s season from the sidelines. Unlike last year, Walker is only suspended for three games for an unspecified violation of team rules compared with having to sit out the first semester last season due to academic eligibility issues. Speaking of eligibility issues, four-star shooting guard Brandone Francis will have to miss the entire season as he was not approved for collegiate competition by the NCAA Clearinghouse. The loss of Walker should not be a huge issue as he will sit out an exhibition game and two regular-season games (William & Mary and Miami), but Francis’ absence could hurt them in terms of depth in the long-run even if we was only projected to be a reserve guard. If Francis improves his grades enough to become eligible, he could practice with the team in the spring semester even if he cannot play for them.
- Mississippi State‘s chances of being competitive in the SEC this year took a big hit with injuries to Craig Sword and Johnny Zuppardo. Sword, who led the Bulldogs in scoring with 13.7 points per game last year, is scheduled to undergo surgery on his back today due to a herniated disc and is expected to be out for 4-6 weeks. Zuppardo, a junior college transfer, will be out for the season after suffering a torn meniscus and ACL in his left knee. Although Zuppardo will be out for the entire year and is expected to seek a medical redshirt, Sword should be back in time for the start of SEC play, but his level of fitness at that time could be another issue.
- It has been quite a while since we feature a piece by Luke Winn in this column, but with the season rapidly approaching (never fast enough), he teamed up with Dan Hanner (another Morning Five favorite) for a project where they try to predict the top players this upcoming season by simulating the season 10,000 times using models that Hanner has created over the years (think of it as a college basketball Monte Carlo simulation. The project is being revealed in pieces, but so far they have given us their projections for leaders in scoring, rebounding, and assists and who they think the top freshmen will be. As Winn mentions in an accompanying video with David Gardner there are some issues with projecting how good freshmen will be since many times they have played against vastly inferior competition in high school, but it does provide some interesting analysis while we wait for the season to start.
- We actually have quite a bit of basketball arena news. The biggest news was the announcement by Arizona that former Wildcat guard Steve Kerr and his wife planned to donate $1 million for McKale Center renovations and upgrades to the academic facility. We are sure that Kerr’s five-year, $25 million contract for his first head coaching job certainly made that $1 million figure a little easier. UCLA, the other traditional power in the Pac-12, might need its own wealthy donor in the near-future for the recently remodeled (at a cost of $136 million) Pauley Pavilion because reports indicate that it is still not ready for play almost 2.5 months after it was flooded. The Bruins have been forced to play in the nearby Student Activities Center, but are expected to be back in Pauley in time for their season-opener, an exhibition against Azusa Pacific on October 31. In Chicago, the plans for DePaul‘s controversial Rosemont-based arena appear to be on schedule with the team expecting to play there starting in 2016-17 season. When the plans were first reported they drew a great deal of criticism because of the arenas distance from the school and the fact that the fan base has been largely apathetic.
- Mike Slive’s name might not carry as much weight in the college basketball world as it does in the college football world due to the relative strength of the conference in each sport, but his announcement that he will be retiring on July 31, 2015 to deal with a recurrence of prostate cancer could still be significant for the college basketball world. Slive will continue on as a consultant for the conference which is already beginning its search for his replacement. Even though the conference has been underwhelming on the basketball court (outside of Kentucky and Florida), his departure after 13 years at the helm of the SEC raises the possibility that the next commissioner of the SEC could have ambitions to expand it beyond its current reach and set off another chain reaction of conference realignment.
Posted by nvr1983 on June 28th, 2013
- One of the worries that NBA teams have when one of their players participates in an international tournament is that the player will get injured. As a result many NBA teams have insurance policies taken out (often financed by the national team’s federation). While NCAA teams are unable to take out similar policies since their players are not paid (not getting into that debate here), many schools have similar worries. It has been a while since we have seen a significant injury to a college player in international play, but we may have that as Rodney Hood reportedly suffered an unspecified Achilles injury during Wednesday night’s practice. Without further information (we aren’t even sure if Hood knows the extent of the damage) it is hard to say how long Hood will be out as recovery could range from a few days to the entire season. If Hood is out for a prolonged period it would be a big blow for a Duke team looking for him to provide an additional scoring punch to pair with Jabari Parker.
- Conference realignment has had more than its fair share of entries in the Morning Five, but one area of realignment that we have not talked about as much is the ongoing sports network battle between ESPN (the old guard) and Fox Sports 1 (the new kid on the block). Most of the moves have not registered with us mainly because they have been for day-time TV talent and we are never home during the middle of the day to watch any of these personalities. However, Fox Sports 1 stealing Bill Raftery away from ESPN certainly caught our attention. Many college basketball fans will miss the three-man booth of Raftery, Sean McDonough, and Jay Bilas we figure they will get over it with the new team of Raftery and Gus Johnson although we have our reservations about a booth with that much energy. We will always maintain that there is not a single announcer that can get us to turn on or turn off a game that we otherwise would not or would be watching, but at the very least Fox Sports 1 is making the competition with ESPN more compelling.
- With Andy Enfield’s arrival at USC you would expect many players who were interested in transferring become more excited about the possibility of playing for Dunk City West. It appears that all was enough (or maybe it was a move to LA) to get Darion Clark to transfer from Charleston to USC. Clark, who averaged 18 games and averaging 6.2 points on 54.2% from the field and 4.6 rebounds in 17.6 minutes per game, as a freshman will have to sit out next year and will have three more years of eligibility left. Given his production and efficiency as a freshman we would expect that Trojan fans can get used to seeing him on the court quite a bit.
- It appears that Billy Donovan is building quite a collection of point guards at Florida. While he may have issues getting them to play in the short term given Scottie Wilbekin’s ongoing behavioral issues and Kasey Hill’s academic issues, he should have a surplus for the 2014-15 season as he added Brandone Francis, a top-25 or -35 player in the class of 2014 depending on which service you follow, to a class that already includes Chris Chiozza, another top-100 player. Francis projects as more of a shooting guard especially with Chiozza in the same class, but he can play both positions so the Gators should have a dynamic backcourt for years to come.
- Over the years many of Rick Pitino‘s books have become the subject of numerous jokes including “Success is a Choice” that became the subject of countless jokes by Bill Simmons. On the heels of winning a national title at Louisville Pitino is ready to venture back into the book business with his latest book titled “The One-Day Contract: How to Add Value to Every Minute of Your Life.” The book will reportedly focus on Louisville’s championship experiences and Pitino’s life experience. As the Kentucky fans out there would note every minute of your life could include four 15 second events.