Morning Five: 04.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 25th, 2012

  1. Baylor’s Quincy Miller had a pretty good freshman season, but not good enough for him to believe he was ready for the NBA Draft after a single year in Waco. At least that was his decision two weeks ago, just prior to the NCAA’s draft entry deadline on April 10. Proving that such a deadline is in fact the complete and utter joke that nearly everyone already thinks, Miller on Tuesday reversed his decision prior to the NBA’s (the real) deadline this coming Sunday. He will become the tenth 1-and-done player who declared this offseason likely to be selected in the first round in June. The good news, of course, is that Scott Drew will now have additional time to prepare for life after Miller — somewhere down on Tobacco Road, an ACC coach or two must be very pleased about this development.
  2. Speaking of the NBA Draft and dovetailing with the incessant discussion of transfer players last week, FIU’s Dominique Ferguson also announced on Tuesday that he will head to the NBA in the wake of head coach Isiah Thomas’ firing at the school. According to Ferguson, who averaged 8/6 in his two seasons at the school, he preferred to stay in a basketball uniform in Miami but FIU refused to release him to any other institution. He felt this left him no choice other than to enter the professional ranks. We’d like to see a bit more evidence before completely buying his story here, but the power that schools hold over players in this manner is really just shy of unconscionable.
  3. Another ridiculous segue, but far be it from us to question someone’s veracity, especially someone as consistently open and transparent as new South Carolina head coach Frank Martin. In an AP report on Tuesday about how the fiery coach is handling Columbia in his first month on the job, he claims that there was no rift with the AD or other administrators leading to his departure from Kansas State. In the money quote, Martin said, “I’m just telling you, (Gamecocks AD) Eric Hyman put his arms around me and it was hard for me not to feel the passion that he had for building the men’s basketball program. I’ve never been through this before.” Mmmmkay.
  4. Indiana had quite the renaissance in the 2011-12 season, finally breaking through from one of its lowest periods in history to knock off several Top 5 teams in Bloomington and ride the momentum all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. Head coach Tom Crean intimated on Tuesday that IU may be bringing back one of its brightest stars to channel its glorious past with its highly anticipated future — former IU NPOY Calbert Cheaney may join Crean’s coaching staff as an associate after spending last season as its Director of Basketball Operations. This would be a nice promotion for the likable Cheaney, who could surely impart considerable wisdom on how to play with expectations given that the Hoosiers should be in everybody’s Top 5 themselves next year.
  5. Finally, the Cincinnati Reds welcomed national championship head coach John Calipari to its baseball game against the Giants Tuesday night, giving the loquacious coach a #1 jersey (pictured here) and displaying the Kentucky title trophy on the premises, but the gesture by the team based on the northern banks of the Ohio River (facing the Bluegrass State) was not without its detractors. Redleg Nation comprises a large geographic area that also includes the fan bases of Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State, Cincinnati, Xavier, Dayton, and several other Division I programs in addition to Kentucky, so some fans of those programs went on talk radio threatening to cancel their tickets with the baseball club. For what it’s worth, Calipari tossed a nice ball over to the catcher at home plate, as you can see below.

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Big Ten Mount Rushmore

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on February 21st, 2012

When the Big Ten recently added Nebraska and thus broke into two six-team football divisions, fans and pundits alike broke out in disdain over the “Legends” and “Leaders” distinctions. But while every conference has its legends, the Big Ten’s leaders are the men who rise to the top and would adorn its Mount Rushmore…

The man they called “The General,” as fierce and unique a competitor and coach the game has ever seen.  One of the greatest student-athletes (Jerry Lucas) in the history of college sports, and another coach who lives for the month of March every single season (Tom Izzo).  We only wish we could take credit for the Wizard of Westwood, as the legendary John Wooden — you could mold a Mount Rushmore consisting of Wooden’s students alone — spent his playing days at Purdue. Alas, we think we’ve got a pretty good group without him.

Bob Knight

There are very few coaches in all of basketball at any level that demand the complete respect of the players and Bobby Knight is one of them.  Basketball in the state of Indiana has been well-documented for decades but Knight took it to a different level during his tenure in Bloomington.  Every father in Indiana hoped for his son to play for the IU coach because of what he meant for the state and the game.  Three National Championships over his tenure are just the tip of his accomplishments.  What meant more to the state and rest of the Big Ten was how he went about his business.  He had an incredible graduation rate with his players and they played the tough-nosed basketball that has been a staple of the Big Ten brand for decades now.  In addition to his championships, he is the last coach to lead a team to a perfect season (1975-76) and also added a couple more Final Fours to his name.  His knowledge of the game is a treasure to all of college hoops and there was no better representative of the Big Ten’s message at the national stage than Knight.  He dominated Big Ten conference play as his teams won 11 regular season championships during his tenure, and, did we mention that he graduated from Ohio State? He is a true Big Ten icon.

Jerry Lucas

The Ohio State University is known for their football legends – Woody Hayes and Archie Griffin just to name two of them.  But Jerry Lucas left Columbus as the second most influential Buckeye upon graduation in the early 1960s, right behind Jesse Owens.  Lucas’ individual accomplishments include being named the Big Ten MVP three times and as a first team All-America for three years.  He led his team to three NCAA final games including one championship.  He was as good as Oscar Robertson during his college career and he topped it off with an Olympic gold medal in 1960.  He dominated the game during his era and was a great ambassador for Big Ten basketball.

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Morning Five: 06.20.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2011

  1. From the In Case You Missed It file, late last week we published a piece analyzing the weird NCAA/Kentucky/John Calipari love triangle that occurred as a result of the school honoring Cal’s 500th win last season.  If you were on vacation or otherwise pre-occupied last week, the synopsis goes like this: Everyone is aware that the NCAA has vacated  42  of Calipari’s wins at UMass and Memphis because of the use of ineligible players (Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose).  Recently,  though, the NCAA learned from a “rival fan” that Kentucky’s official media materials still included the 42 wins as a part of Calipari’s aggregate total, thereby resulting in a “500th win” celebration that occurred late last season after a game against Florida.  The NCAA requested that Kentucky make good on reconciling its win total with their own, and, after some lawyerly back-and-forth over the issue, Kentucky eventually acceded to the governing body’s request rather than face a hearing in front of the Committee of Infractions.  As we stated on Friday, this is all fine and well — the win total should be the one recognized by the NCAA — but we’re not sure that the NCAA recognized the bag of worms centipedes it was opening with this very issue.  In our analysis, we found three examples of active coaches who “boast” vacated wins themselves — Steve Fisher at San Diego State, Todd Bozeman at Morgan State, and Mike Jarvis at Florida Atlantic — as but three more situations where their schools’ media guides represent a picture different than one warranted by the NCAA.  Will the NCAA begin knocking on those schools’ virtual doors in coming weeks as well?  We can’t imagine that the NCAA really wanted to waste its scarce and valuable resources on something so fundamentally trivial, but if the organization doesn’t step up and take responsibility for the mess it’s created here, then what little credibility it might have had pertaining to accusations of selective enforcement will be completely lost amidst a pile of balloons and confetti.
  2. They all come home eventually.  Former Indiana superstar Calbert Cheaney, still the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer nearly two decades after his graduation, will return to Bloomington to become Tom Crean’s Director of Basketball Operations next season.  Arguably the last great player Bob Knight coached, Cheaney was a three-time All-American at IU, culminating in becoming the consensus NPOY during the 1992-93 season.  When the old-timers talk about “Indiana Basketball,” Cheaney’s Hoosier teams are the most recent version of what they have in mind — during his junior and senior seasons at IU, Indiana went 58-11 while making a Final Four (1992) and Elite Eight (1993) under his on-floor direction.  Cheaney spent 13 seasons playing in the NBA and the last couple of years working as a special assistant in player development to the Golden State Warriors, but with a strong sense that the Tom Crean era in Bloomington is reaching a now-or-never point, Cheaney may be well-positioned to move up the ladder there quickly if he shows any coaching acumen at all.
  3. Bill Self picked up an impact player over the weekend who should be able to contribute to his Jayhawks immediately next season in the form of 6’7 Kevin Young, a former Loyola Marymount wing who spent last year getting his grades in order as a volunteer assistant coach at Barstow (KS) Community College.  The bouncy swingman is a great last-minute addition for Kansas, who even with its prolific depth of talent will still have some trouble absorbing the loss of seven players next season.  Young presumably could step right into a starting role next year, having performed at a high level (10/6 in two seasons) at LMU and possessing more experience than anyone else on the 2011-12 roster at his position.  KU fans are likely feeling considerably better today about their upcoming squad than they did just a few short days ago.
  4. We mentioned a little over a week ago that USA Basketball’s World University Games training camp roster included 22 current collegians in the hopes that next year’s NPOY wouldn’t end up riding the pine as former Ohio State superstar Evan Turner did on 2009′s team.   We’re still waiting to hear how those selections turn out, but the USA Under-19 three-day training camp concluded this weekend, and a lucky 13 rising freshmen and sophomores will represent the United States in international competition beginning in June 30 in Latvia.  The roster includes:  Keith Appling (Michigan State), James Bell (Villanova), Anthony Brown (Stanford), Jahii Carson (Arizona State), Tim Hardaway, Jr. (Michigan), Joe Jackson (Memphis), Jeremy Lamb (UConn), Meyers Leonard (Illinois), Khyle Marshall (Butler), Javon McCrea (Buffalo), Doug McDermott (Creighton), Tony Mitchell (North Texas), and Patric Young (Florida).  The two biggest surprise omissions were the reigning Pac-10 ROY, Allen Crabbe (California) and all-ACC rookie Travis McKi (Wake Forest).
  5. It now appears all but certain that the November 11 Veteran’s Day game between Michigan State and North Carolina will take place on the USS Carl Vinson, the same aircraft carrier that — how should we put this? — disposed of Osama bin Laden’s body a little over a month ago.  The game will take place on the flight deck, and since it’s usually 70 degrees and clear in San Diego regardless of the time of year, the odds are that this thing will go off without a weather hitch.  Still, it would be amusing if a few light breezes blew in during the second half to make the shooters adjust on the fly, a little like this.  We can always dream.
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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. X

Posted by rtmsf on February 18th, 2010

Backdoor Cuts is a weekly college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh that occasionally touches on relevant subjects. This week the guys riff on an underappreciated legend from outside the ranks of high-major college hoops.

DAVE ZEITLIN: If there’s one thing I know about you guys, it’s that you love upsets. Well, if you need your fill, you don’t have to wait until March Madness. One of the greatest upsets of all-time is going to unfold next week, and hardly anyone is talking about it.  Bob Knight, one of the most recognized coaches in the world, will soon be passed as the NCAA all-time wins leader by Herb Magee, a man who probably wouldn’t even be recognized in his own city. On Saturday, the 68-year-old Magee, who coaches at Division II Philadelphia University, won his 900th career game. He now has 901 and should surpass Knight’s 902 wins as early as next week.

Philadelphia U Students Celebrate the 900th Win

Of course, some might say that coaching at the Division II level is a whole different ballgame. And it is. But that’s what makes Magee’s story so unique. He’s passed up many offers to coach at a higher level for weird reasons like not wanting to uproot his family and avoiding sleazy hanger-ons. Check out this line from a 2006 Sports Illustrated story: “Magee’s aversion to change means that he’s passed up incalculable amounts of money. But by staying at Philadelphia U, he’s also passed up recruiting wars, street agents, glad-handing, boosters, call-in shows, reality-deprived expectations, nonstop travel and websites devoted to his firing.” Here’s another gem from the same piece:

John Nash, a longtime NBA executive and childhood friend, once called Magee late at night asking why he wasn’t more interested in ascending the ladder.

“What are you doing right now, John?” Magee asked.

“Watching film,” said Nash.

“Me too,” Magee responded. “Mine’s called Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

Now let’s think about the man he is going to pass. While Knight should be commended for always running a clean program, let’s be honest: he’s a bully. I’m sure he’s a fun guy to be around if you crack his inner circle, but it’s hard for any writer to like a man who consistently chastises the media (even though he’s now joined it) and once said, “All of us learn to write in the second grade. Most of us go on to greater things.” (As if writing a column for Rush the Court isn’t the GREATEST thing.) Magee, on the other hand, has always been gracious with the very few media members he talks to, even as he conducts interviews in the hallway between his small gym and smaller office.

Now let’s think about the number for a second. 900. Look at the man. He looks like he could run a marathon with two basketballs tied to his back. I bet Magee, who’s nickamed the “Shot Doctor” (which, I must add, is a lot more tolerable than “The General”) would beat Bob Knight one-on-one, 11-0, blindfolded. (Magee scored over 2,000 points in college and was selected in the NBA draft; Knight was a reserve at Ohio State.)  Are the comparisons between these two fair? Probably not. And I’ve been told the two coaches have great respect for each other, with Magee once buying a $2 pamphlet called “Let’s Play Defense” from Knight when the two were younger — which has techniques that he still uses today.

Still, if you like upsets … if you like nice people more than mean people … if you like cute puppies more than this … then you should root for Magee to set the NCAA record. And since I doubt either of you two “Division I fans” know much about Magee, I’ll open the floor. Let’s hear some other underappreciated stories, places of people in the world of college basketball. And no, the St. Joes’ Hawk flapping its wings for an entire game doesn’t count.

MIKE WALSH: I pass …

Frankly, nothing I could come up even holds a candle to Magee, and this achievement is so noteworthy that I don’t think we have even begun to scratch the surface. And, I’m always down for a little Bobby Knight bashing, although my wife’s Indiana-based side of the family might disown me.

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What the #&$*#! is this?

Posted by rtmsf on February 4th, 2008

Wow. 

We just learned that everyone’s favorite egomaniacal asshole coach disciplinarian and teacher, Bob Knight, has resigned from Texas Tech.  Kinda strange timing, this being the middle of the season and all. 

Bob Knight

Photo Credit:  Indy Star

We truly hope there’s nothing health-related going on with Knight or his family, but with that caveat, here’s RTC’s top 10 reasons why Coach Knight might be leaving Texas Tech.  Remember, there’s always a backstory with this guy.

  1. Retirement is fun - Knight should just sit back, “relax, and enjoy it.”   
  2. Pier 1 refused to supply him with any further vases for his secretaries
  3. Texas Tech decided to nail down the courtside seats this year. 
  4. It’s all f$#&ing Greg Graham’s fault. 
  5. “Hey Knight.”  Some snot-nosed punk kid needed a lesson or two on manners. 
  6. Kelvin Sampson was caught three-way calling again, so there will be an opening at Indiana soon. 
  7. Folks in Texas don’t take too kindly to whips used on them.
  8. Isiah offered him a job as Chief of Ho Security in the Knicks front office.
  9. Neil Reed asked for his relevance back.    
  10. And oh yeah… his mediocre record this year and every other year since 1994. 

Best of luck to Coach Knight in his next gig at the University of San Francisco.

Indy Star Cartoon

Cartoon Credit:  Indy Star

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