Morning Five: 07.11.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 11th, 2012

  1. Everyone feel free to let out a big sigh… Former Arizona malcontent and SMU transfer Josiah Turner has decided to follow his dream to play in the NBA by forgoing college basketball in favor of taking a shot with the D-League or spending next season in Europe to hone his game for next year’s draft. As he put it in an interview with Yahoo Sports‘ Jeff Eisenberg Tuesday, “In college, you get your degree and everything, but going pro is getting me closer to my dream and what I want to do in life.” Turner was set to become new head coach Larry Brown’s first big recruit at SMU, but for now it appears that he’s putting all of his eggs into a rather competitive basket. He admits that alcohol and marijuana contributed to his paltry stats (6.8 PPG; 2.4 APG) and disciplinary problems during his one year in Tucson, but he also says that his partying days are behind him and he’s matured from that experience. Will we ever hear from Turner again — is anyone willing to take the affirmative?
  2. It’s no secret that Sporting News‘ Mike DeCourcy is, much like us, a defender of the inherent value of the game of college basketball. His latest piece brings up an interesting fact that we weren’t aware of prior to reading it — of the 144 basketball players who will participate in the London Olympics later this month, no fewer than 46 of them (32%) spent time developing at US colleges. When you consider that the qualifiers range from Nigeria (Arizona State’s Ike Diogu) to Australia (St. Mary’s Patty Mills) to Great Britain (GW’s Pops Mensah-Bonsu) to Lithuania (Maryland’s Sarunas Jasikevicius) to the good ol’ USA (Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden, Chris Paul, and others), you quickly realize that for many countries the American college game has become an elite training ground for the world’s top amateur talent.
  3. We sadly mentioned in yesterday’s M5 the passing of Stanford’s Peter Sauer, which reportedly was caused by a condition associated with an enlarged heart. Today’s M5 brings even more bad news in that UCLA guard Kenny Heitz, a key member of John Wooden’s three-time national champions from 1967-69, passed away in Pacific Palisades at the age of 65. Heitz and Lew Alcindor were in the same class at UCLA (talk about fortuitous timing!) and their teams went a ridiculous 88-2 over their paired careers. Rather than pursuing a professional basketball career after graduation, the Academic All-American went on to Harvard Law School and became a top-drawer commercial litigation attorney in Southern California. Thoughts go out to his family, and we hope he rests in peace.
  4. Another member of the UCLA family, Josh Smith, is entering his junior season as a Bruin. His weight problem was a major distraction last season, as he often struggled to run the court two or three times without getting winded, and Ben Howland’s team suffered as a result. Peter Yoon of ESPNLosAngeles caught up with the talented but enigmatic center recently and discovered that Smith appears to finally be taking seriously the gifts of skill and size that have been given to him. Smith said that last summer he simply returned home to Washington state and goofed around with his free time, but this summer he has remained in Westwood and is working with a nutritionist who has helped him already lose 15 pounds and improve his conditioning. It certainly remains to be seen whether any of this will actually stick for Smith, as we feel like we’ve heard this before (not only from him but Renardo Sidney also comes to mind) and he needs to melt a lot more than 15 bills from his frame. But… and this is a big if… if Smith is in shape and the Wear twins are at all adequate, then Ben Howland will have the best frontcourt in America.
  5. It appears that the nation’s athletic directors are in a giving mood this month. Third year Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery received a revised seven-year contract that will pay him an average of between $1.6 to $1.9 million over that period, depending on whether he hits certain NCAA Tournament incentives. Keep in mind that, although McCaffery has certainly got the Hawkeye program heading in the right direction (from 11-20 his first year to 18-17 last season), he has yet to finish in the top half of the Big Ten nor done any damage nationally. This is a rather unbelievable deal for someone who has yet to even sniff the NCAAs in his time in Iowa City — but hey, we’re rooting for the guy to earn it. Good for him.
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Morning Five: 07.10.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 10th, 2012

  1. Fans of west coast basketball from the 90s were saddened on Monday with the news that former Stanford forward Peter Sauer collapsed and died on Sunday during a pickup basketball game in White Plains, New York. Sauer was a team captain who averaged 7.9 PPG for his career and played a significant role in leading the Cardinal to its second-ever Final Four in the 1997-98 season, where it lost in overtime to eventual national champion Kentucky in the semifinals. His graduating class of 1999 was one of the most successful in program history — in four seasons, it won 90 games, a Pac-10 title, attended four straight NCAA Tournaments, and was a large part of the renaissance of Stanford basketball by turning a historically woeful program into a national powerhouse. Sauer leaves behind a wife and three young daughters, a man in the prime of his life taken away far too soon. May he rest in peace.
  2. In an odd coincidence, Sauer’s college coach at Stanford, Mike Montgomery, also made news on Monday. The curmudgeonly California coach signed an extension that will keep him coaching until at least the 2015-16 season. In four seasons so far at Berkeley, Montgomery has fielded scrappy and competitive teams that have been invited to three NCAA Tournaments (no easy task in the Pac-10/12), but he has not yet achieved the national success that he did at Stanford in the latter part of his career across the bay (e.g., three 30-win seasons). Still, the Cal administration clearly appreciates the work that Montgomery has already put in, and he stands to keep the Golden Bears among the better basketball programs of the Pac-12 for years to come.
  3. We mentioned last week that Syracuse recently released an independent report that suggested its program and administration did not act to cover up allegations made against assistant coach Bernie Fine in 2005, but could have acted more promptly in notifying authorities of the charges made against him. The lawyer for one of Fine’s accusers (Bobby Davis) responded on Monday — it would be quite the understatement to suggest that Gloria Allred disagrees. After describing the university’s report as a “complete whitewash” of the relevant events seven years ago, she went on to say that the report’s contention that there was no cover up does not “pass the laugh test.” (hmm… where have we heard that phrase used before?) Allred went on to say that Syracuse’s investigation of the allegations against Fine in 2005 were done to protect the university rather than learn the truth — whether all of her claims here are true or not, she’s certainly rattling the cage and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon.
  4. July has long been known in college basketball circles as the month when coaches jet around the country to sit in hot gyms and evaluate the stars of tomorrow at the various camps. Though the names and locations have changed, the song and dance is still largely the same. Mike DeCourcy gives us a thorough primer of some of the top storylines in this year’s summer circuit, set to begin on Wednesday from Indianapolis, Philadelphia and just outside of DC. Perhaps the most interesting tidbit is something that we noted in this space a couple of weeks ago — most of the top players in the Class of 2013 have held off on their commitments, which means that the summer evaluation period is likely to be more competitive as players angle to catch coaches’ eyes heading into the all-important fall signing period. DeCourcy also discusses the battle for the top player in the class, and how Jay Wright needs an impact player out on the Main Line sooner rather than later.
  5. While on the subject of recruiting,’s Myron Medcalf writes a fascinating article about the recent arrival and impact of Canadian recruits on college basketball’s landscape. As he notes early in the piece, five Canadians have been selected in the last two NBA Drafts, and the top overall player in the Class of 2014, Andrew Wiggins, is a native Canuck as well. Then there are the current collegians, such as Texas’ Myck Kabongo, UNLV’s Khem Birch and Anthony Bennett, Marquette’s Junior Cadougan, and Gonzaga’s Kevin Pangos. Call it the Steve Nash Effect (unless you prefer Jamaal Magloire), but much of the talent pool derives from the large immigrant minority populations that have settled in the metropolises of Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal in the last 30 years — the children of those immigrants came up with the NBA in Canada and are now starting to find their way to the elite levels of American basketball. As the game of basketball continues its growth as the world’s second-favorite sport, we’re going to see college basketball take on an increasingly international flavor in much the same way that the NBA has over the last 15 years.
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Morning Five: 07.09.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 9th, 2012

  1. Kentucky head coach John Calipari will not be adding an Olympic medal to his trophy case in London this year after his Dominican Republic team lost to Nigeria at the Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, over the weekend. Interestingly enough, it was former Arizona State All-American Ike Diogu who pushed the Nigerians past the Dominicans, scoring 25 points including some key threes to earn the most valuable player award in the tournament. Although we can’t envision a scenario where Calipari could actually improve his recruiting pitch, UK fans are no doubt privately happy that Coach Cal will now have the next month available to get out on the road and evaluate future prospects. Louisville an former Puerto Rico head coach Rick Pitino, on the other hand, is quite clearly enjoying his summer vacation.
  2. While on the subject of the Louisville coach, WDRB’s Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich recently published a March interview transcript with the Cardinals’ talented-and-getting-better center Gorgui Dieng. The article — a notebook style commentary on area schools — also revealed that Indiana NPOY candidate Cody Zeller doesn’t think it’s a “big deal” that the UK-IU series has ended, and some discussion about the most indispensable players in college basketball next season. Worth a read if you have a few minutes.
  3. Missouri is a team that seemingly lost several indispensables in the forms of Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Ricardo Ratliffe. But with a number of key contributors returning, several elite transfers, and the return of Laurence Bowers from injury, Missouri insiders think that next year’s squad might be in even better position to make a run at the Final Four. Prior to last October’s injury, Bowers was widely considered the Tigers’ best returning player — if he returns his confidence and game from the latter part of 2010-11 and all the newcomers mesh with waterbug Phil Pressey and Michael Dixon, the SEC might get taken by storm in much the same way Arkansas entered the league some 20 years ago.
  4. It didn’t take long for South Florida head coach Stan Heath to cash in on his program’s success last season, where the Bulls won 22 games including the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament wins (over California and Temple). Heath’s contract was extended by the school for three more years to 2017-18, and he now takes home a crisp $1.19 million annually (representing a 32% raise). Without question, Heath entered last season at USF on the hot seat, but with a number of returnees expected from one of the most efficient lockdown defensive teams in America, the Bulls could be on the verge of a sustained multi-year run of success. This is especially true with the overall downgrade in basketball talent that the Big East losses of West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh will enable — some program will happily fill that void.
  5. Old Dominion received some good news late last week when NC State transfer DeShawn Painter was ruled eligible by the NCAA to compete for the Monarchs next season. The rising senior moved back to the Hampton Roads area to be closer to his family and ailing great-grandmother, the woman who essentially raised him. ODU is in a tough spot next year as it has been banned from competing in the CAA Tournament, meaning that it will have to perform exceptionally well throughout the regular season to ensure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. The Monarchs have been involved in the NCAAs in four of the last seven seasons, and the addition of Painter as a beast on the low blocks will help toward that end. Last season on NC State’s Sweet Sixteen team, he averaged 6/4 in about 20 minutes per game, and his size and maturity will be a tremendous boon for Blaine Taylor’s team on the inside next year.
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Morning Five: 04.26.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 26th, 2012

  1. Kermit Davis, the head coach of Middle Tennessee State for the last decade, parlayed an offer to become the new top guy at Southern Miss into an opportunity to secure himself a nice extension at his current school. Proving the old adage that you’re only as valuable as what someone will pay for your services, Davis’ cachet on the MTSU campus increased significantly more in the last 24 hours than it did over the course of all 27 of those wins for the Blue Raiders last year. Middle Tennessee expects to return nine of its top 10 players from a team that won the Sun Belt regular season going away and reached the NIT quarterfinals in the postseason.
  2. In yesterday’s M5 we talked about the possibility of Indiana legend Calbert Cheaney joining Tom Crean’s staff as an associate coach if he decides to take the promotion. On Wednesday another college hoops legend from the early 1990s agreed to a promotion to the coaching ranks, as Wake Forest’s Randolph Childress will become the Demon Deacons’ new Director of Player Development. After a long career in the NBA and Europe that ended in 2011, Childress returned to his alma mater last year to work as AD Ron Wellman’s assistant. Perhaps this move will help head coach Jeff Bzdelik revive a moribund program that has never truly recovered from Skip Prosser’s tragic death in 2007.
  3. One of the hardest luck stories from Louisville’s surprising run to the Final Four last season was that redshirt junior forward Jared Swopshire was clearly nowhere near the player he was prior to groin surgery in early 2011. He played 13.4 minutes per game in all but one of Louisville’s 40 contests last year, but his averages of 3.3 PPG and 2.8 RPG were well off his numbers two years ago when he was a regular starter. With Swopshire due to graduate this year and Louisville choosing to move on, Northwestern formally announced on Wednesday that Swopshire will transfer there for his fourth and final season of eligibility. As the Wildcats make their annual attempt to sneak into the NCAA Tournament in 2012-13, having a still-athletic and experienced forward like Swopshire on the front line to battle Big Ten foes will come in quite handy.
  4. You don’t see many longer-form articles like this piece from Jason King at at this time of year, but his article discussing how coaches such as Brad Stevens, Shaka Smart, Gregg Marshall, Dan Monson and others have found happiness at their mid-major oases is a good one. One of the key differences of course is that those particular programs have made financial and resource commitments that — even if not apples-to-apples with power conference schools — at least make those programs competitive with the big boys. There’s a huge difference between a Butler and a Duke, for example, in terms of basketball facilities, fan base, and the rest; but is there that much of a competitive advantage for a school like Iowa over Butler by virtue of its membership in the Big Ten? Probably not.
  5. While on the subject of coaches in this heavily-themed M5, Luke Winn brings us his first-ever Data-Based Coaching Awards, a compendium of prizes given in a variety of efficiency-based categories. The categories range from such specific metrics as the “After-Timeout Efficiency King” to “Most Success With the Least Experience,” and there is a mishmash of predictable and interesting results. We won’t give it away here, but three of the eight awards listed in this piece went to the same guy and you probably already know who that is. Winn promises us even more data-based coaching awards later today with a focus on the NCAA Tournament alone. Can’t wait.
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Morning Five: 09.29.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 29th, 2011

  1. Southern Mississippi head coach Larry Eustachy received a three-year extension on his contract.  You might recall that Eustachy gained some notoriety in 2009 for giving back a $25,000 bonus to his employer because he didn’t feel as if he had earned it.  In the two seasons hence, his Golden Eagles have gone 42-24 and were invited to the CIT postseason tournament in 2009-10.  Southern Miss was in the conversation for an at-large bid in last year’s NCAA Tournament prior to hitting a tough stretch during the last two weeks of the season.  His extension does not include a salary boost, but it will keep him employed at the school through the 2013-14 season.
  2. Rick Pitino really must not want to end up in the ‘fertile’ recruiting grounds of the Big 12, searching for talent in a place like Manhattan, Kansas, rather than Manhattan island.  In an interview with Adam Zagoria on Tuesday night, he went on a somewhat incomprehensible tirade about why Connecticut would be “dumb” to leave the Big East for the ACC if there was another spot available for the Huskies.  He invokes none other than the legendary John Wooden to explain why UConn should not consider such a move: “Do you ever think [leaving the Pac-10] crossed his mind? No, when you’re great winner, those things don’t cross your mind. The only thing that crosses your mind is the ability to win a championship and carry on the great tradition you’ve built.”  He even goes so far as to suggest that the Huskies might be less successful in a conference like the ACC, citing Boston College’s one soccer title as a relevant example.  But… didn’t Pitino tell us a hundred times in March that the Big East was by far the best basketball conference?  Why would leaving the best basketball conference for a weaker one hurt them, Rick?  We haven’t seen video of this interview, but it reads like the rantings and ramblings of a man desperate to avoid irrelevance.
  3. We’re all aware that Syracuse is headed to the ACC, although the when behind that move is still up in the air.  What might also be up in the air is the idea Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor floated on Tuesday — Syracuse possibly playing some home ACC games in New York City.  Calling the Orange “New York’s college team,” Cantor strongly stated that one of the must-haves for her school was to play some home ACC games in the Big Apple.  Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim fired back with unequivocal statements to the contrary on Wednesday.  Suggesting that Cantor was mistaken about which games might be played in NYC, Boeheim said, “we absolutely would not take conference games to New York City. It was never the intent… She meant games in New York. Yes. And bringing the ACC Tournament to New York.”  From an economic standpoint to the school, it makes a lot more sense to bring elite ACC teams to upstate New York and the enormous Carrier Dome than to try to play the likes of Duke, UNC, Maryland and others in the much smaller venues of Madison Square Garden or the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
  4. Speaking of the new NYC arena, we’re already loving this place.  New York always felt like it should be a two-arena kind of town, and the Barclays will now allow some interesting simultaneous events for people in the city to enjoy.  The first example of this will now occur in 2013, as the Atlantic 10 has signed a five-year deal to bring its conference tournament to Brooklyn.  If the league keeps with the format it has now so that the quarters, semis and finals occur on Selection Sunday weekend, savvy hoops fans might be able to commute between the Big East extravaganza at MSG and the best A-10 games over in Brooklyn.  With a mere half-hour trip by subway line between the two arenas, hoops junkies like ourselves could find themselves in a heavenly situation.
  5. Let’s finish with some really good news.  Arizona’s Kevin Parrom is back on campus in Tucson and is set to resume classes and begin rehabilitation from the shooting injury he suffered last weekend in his hometown of New York.  The bullet entered his leg in the back of his right knee but head coach Sean Miller said on Tuesday that it’s unclear how the injury will impact his basketball activities this season, suggesting that it will be at least a month before a true assessment can be made.  Parrom, a junior who averaged 8/3 last season while knocking down 41.8% of his threes, is a key contributor for Miller, but at this point everyone is just happy that he’s alive and not critically injured.  Even in what has to be trying times for a young athlete, he still has his humor intact, tweeting at former conference rival Isaiah Thomas, “Idk what hurts more your shot that went in at the end of the game or the 1 i got this weekend smh lol.”  Well played, sir.
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Morning Five: 08.22.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 22nd, 2011

  1. The best Team USA can now finish at the World University Games in Shenzhen, China, is fifth place after a close weekend loss to Lithuania, 76-74, in the tournament quarterfinals.  We mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the Americans would have to produce from outside, given their lack of relative size on the interior, and through the round-robin, that’s exactly what they did (41.7% from the three-point line coming into the quarterfinals).  In the loss against Lithuania, though, Team USA combined to shoot an icy 5-30 from three (0-14 in the second half), and missed all five of its shots down the stretch of a tight game to ensure the loss.  The team recovered to handily beat Romania, 94-73, on Sunday, and will play Germany today for the right to claim fifth place this year in the WUG.  Without question, finishing fifth or sixth represents another disappointing finish for the Americans.  After winning six tournaments in a row from 1989-99, the squad has only won gold once more since then (2005).
  2. On Friday afternoon, Connecticut announced that its embattled athletic director, Jeff Hathaway, also the current chair of the 2011-12 NCAA D-I Men’s Basketball Committee, has retired.  As part of his separation agreement, he received a rather lucrative buyout of his contract that will pay him as much as $700,000 next year.  An early report suggested that Hathaway was presented with an all-or-nothing deal in that he would have been fired had he not accepted the terms of this buyout, but both he and UConn have since denied this claim.  Despite the unprecedented success of Husky sports since 2003 on his watch, particularly the men’s and women’s basketball programs but also including the football program, Hathaway has been under fire as a result of his management style, poor fundraising, and a chilly relationship with head coach Jim Calhoun.  UConn has named Paul Pendergast as the interim AD but is expected to perform a national search to find his successor in Storrs.  How this will impact his chairmanship is anyone’s guess, but the NCAA released a statement over the weekend that they would work with Hathaway to “determine the best approach regarding the balance of his term,” whatever that means.  For much more detailed coverage of this situation, we suggest you read this article by Jeff Jacobs in the Hartford Courant — he pretty much gets to the bottom of everything.
  3. By now, everyone has seen the wild and violent scene that unfolded in Beijing last week involving the Georgetown basketball team while on its overseas tour of China.  Hoya head coach John Thompson, III, said over the weekend that he met with the Chinese team’s coach and a few of its players on Friday to smooth things over, and that he felt that the melee did not have any particular political undertones.  A few commentators last week argued differently, as in this Fox News piece suggesting that the Bayi Rockets’ aggression represents a newfound China, one that is aggressively flexing its geopolitical clout by disavowing its previous “fighting without fighting” mantra.  Others were less political in their analysis, suggesting that the brawl was a result of game-long chippiness and nothing more, but the very best take coming out of all of this was from Sean Pendergast at the Houston Press, who hilariously wrote that the mythology of Hoya Paranoia abruptly ended during the brawl last week: “If this game took place in 1985, there would have been 15 bloody, mangled Chinese basketball players scattered unconscious on the floor with Patrick Ewing, Reggie Williams, David Wingate and Michael Graham all standing over them with their hands raised amidst a shower of jettisoned half full beers and sodas and debris.”  Priceless.
  4. Saint Mary’s rewarded its longtime head coach Randy Bennett with a 10-year deal to keep him in Moraga challenging for WCC championships with BYU and Gonzaga for years to come.  Prior to Bennett’s arrival in 2001, the school had won only 10 games in the previous two seasons and had only reached the NCAA Tournament three times in its history.  Bennett has rebuilt the program to the point where the Gaels have reached three more NCAAs during his tenure, including a run to the Sweet Sixteen in 2010, and have averaged 26.3 wins over the last four seasons.  A native of the west coast, his name regularly comes up when Pac-12 schools have job openings but so far the tiny Catholic school in the East Bay hills has been able to hang onto him.  This deal (and presumably a hefty buyout) will make it even more difficult when major conference schools come poaching (and they will).
  5. It’s been over a year since the Wizard of Westwood passed away, but for at least one man, John Wooden’s longtime caretaker Tony Spiro, the hollow feeling inside has not yet subsided.  Spiro looked after Wooden in a progressively greater capacity for nearly half of the 61-year old’s life, and it’s inarguable when you read this piece by the LA Times‘ TJ Simers that the man some 40 years Wooden’s junior eventually grew to became his best friend.  It’s a fascinating read, and one that reminds us all just how important it is to have people who care about you around in your later years — the heartbreak and loneliness of aging and dying alone is something that even one of the greatest coaches in all of sports may have suffered had it not been for the charity and good heart of Spiro.
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Morning Five: 04.29.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 29th, 2011

  1. Dear unnamed ACC coaches who are more interested in their own selfish interests than the well-being of their players: go eff yourselves.  You got what you wanted in that the NCAA approved yet another change to its NBA Draft withdrawal deadline, making it virtually impossible for players to work out and solicit good advice on their draft status in 2012 and beyond before making a final decision.  The May 8 withdrawal deadline this year is already too short, allowing players merely two weeks to get full information that will help them make a life-changing decision; next year’s deadline will be a ridiculously-early April 12, only ten days after some lucky team will cut the nets down in New Orleans.  The ostensible reason behind this change is that coaches want to know what their rosters will look like going into the spring signing period (which begins at approximately the same time as the new deadline), but it rings extremely hollow when they’re claiming to care about their players first while banking millions of dollars themselves.  The coaches driving this legislation, every one of whom is a millionaire, has the luxury of wealth and privilege to fall back on if they make a hasty mistake, while their players get… what, exactly?  A couple of phone calls, a rumor or two, and a pat on the back?  It’s embarrassing and it’s shameful, and if anyone believes that this change will frighten players who are not draftable to stay in school, they’re dreaming.  Successful people generally believe things will work out for them, no matter the decision — it’s just that now they’ll be making their decisions without proper information on which to rely.  Congratulations, fellas.
  2. Ok, on to the players in this year’s draft who still have another ten days to make a final decision.  The NBA released its official list on Thursday and the biggest surprise name on it was Minnesota’s Ralph Sampson, III.  DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony makes the call on every one of this year’s early entries, including analysis that shows several players — Tennessee’s Tobias Harris, Michigan’s Darius Morris, and Xavier’s Tu Holloway, to name a few — have difficult decisions ahead of them next week.
  3. Georgia’s Mark Fox received a nice raise as a result of his guiding the Bulldogs to its first legitimate NCAA Tournament appearance in nine seasons last year (the Dawgs’ 2008 appearance with a 17-17 team was a fluke in part caused by the Atlanta tornado).  His contract was extended by one year to 2016 and his salary was increased by $400,000 annually for a total package worth $1.7M per year.  Not bad for a football school, eh?  Fox will lose stars Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie to the NBA Draft this offseason, so his ultimate worth will be determined by how he does the next four years with his own players.  Still, he’ll have plenty of dollars put away to carry him for a while if things don’t go as well as last season did for his program.
  4. Hey, we can’t say that we did or did not write a couple of letters in a similar vein to this back in the day, but what we can say is that Ethan Peikes’ letter to Georgia Tech AD Dan Radakovich applying for the open head coaching position this spring was probably more logical, likely more witty, and definitely better written.  This is a great story from Mike DeCourcy about how a 15-year old kid from Stamford, Connecticut, made a name for himself by simply, well, making a name for himself.  Nice resume booster.
  5. Jerry Seinfeld on Thursday made headlines when he said that the bombastic businessman-turned-politician Donald Trump was “God’s gift to comedy.”  Little did he know that another God’s Gift would be making his way to the Big Apple, and this one doesn’t involve a weird comb-over and a penchant for egomania.  As far as we know, at least.  God’s Gift Achiuwa, a 6’9 sophomore forward from Erie Community College picked St. John’s over Washington and Cincinnati for his services in the post next year.  Steve Lavin calls him “Gift,” and he represents exactly that to his packed recruiting class that comes in long on talent but not particularly sizable.  The Johnnies will be extremely young next season but should remain fun to watch for a number of reasons, not least of which will be enjoying various announcers handle Achiuwa’s God-Given name.
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Morning Five: 05.07.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 7th, 2010

  1. Finally.  UConn’s Jim Calhoun will receive his long-awaited extension this morning, which will keep him employed in Storrs through the 2013-14 season.  The five-year deal is retroactive to the 2009-10 season and will reportedly pay Calhoun over $13M.  Where’s Ken Krayeske now?
  2. With just a little over 36 hours until the early entry withdrawal deadline passes, a few more players have made their decisions.  UTEP’s Arnett Moultrie will stay in the draft even though he is not considered a first round lock, while Seton Hall’s duo of Jeremy Hazell and Jeff Robinson are returning for another season of Big East basketball.  Mike DeCourcy points out that there are several teams sweating out decisions today and tomorrow as players who probably shouldn’t be in the draft pool are still considering the draft process — most notably, Purdue, Mississippi State and Illinois.  Check back over the weekend for updates on the final decisions of many of these players.
  3. Houston starting point guard Desmond Wade is transferring out of the program, preferably to a school closer to his home base of the New York area.  He started 31 of the Cougars’ 35 games this year in an NCAA season, averaging 6/5 APG in a productive season.  With new coach James Dickey and all but one starter now moving on, UH will have to rebuild quickly to compete again in CUSA next year.
  4. We know that the Wear twins are moving back west after their single season in Chapel Hill, but where will they end up?  Our completely unsubstantiated rumor of the day suggests UCLA’s Ben Howland will be the winner here.
  5. Duke’s inestimable Cameron Indoor Stadium could be getting a significant facelift in the near future.  A two-story building attached to the front of the arena is proposed to act as a hospitality space for alumni and fans to gather before Duke basketball and football games.  Wait, Duke has a football team?
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Morning Five: 05.06.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 5th, 2010

  1. Butler will have to deal with the ghoulish specter of Expectations next year without star forward Gordon Hayward, who has decided to remain in the NBA Draft pool.  The Bulldogs should still be very good in 2010-11, but it’s unlikely to expect another run at the national title without the versatile Hayward back on campus.  Ole Miss guard Terrico White has also decided to stay in the draft, forgoing his final two years of eligibility.  This is a questionable decision, as some prognosticators think White may sneak into the bottom of the first round, while others think he’ll be lucky to be drafted.  With the withdrawal deadline looming on Saturday, there will be a number of these over the next few days (we hope) and Northern Arizona’s Cam Jones is one of the first to announce a return to school.
  2. Some coaching news from yesterday as Temple’s Fran Dunphy was rewarded for another NCAA campaign with an extension that will keep him secure through the 2018 season.  At Kentucky, John Calipari responded to the Chicago Bull rumors with an audio tweet stating that he’s only interested in an extension at UK, not a raise.  After the Tim Welsh debacle at Hofstra, the university wasted no time in hiring Mo Cassara, an assistant that Welsh had hired from Boston College, for the top spot.  A month ago he didn’t even have a job — now he’s the head coach.
  3. How about some transfer news today to round out things?  Memphis added New Orleans transfer Charles Carmouche, a scoring guard who will be eligible immediately for his final two seasons as a result of UNO’s self-demotion to Division 3.  Alabama is restricting rising senior Justin Knox’s transfer bid to UAB as a result of what they think is tampering.  Bizarre situation for the 2008-09 SEC men’s basketball scholar-athlete of the year who will have already graduated from the school this year.
  4. Oklahoma State forward Matt Pilgrim has been served with a protective order by a woman who is claiming that he raped her on April 12.  Pilgrim was an integral part of the inside game for the Pokes last season (8/7) and undoubtedly was expected to be even more prominent next year.  He posted this on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon: “I can’t take it no more… I always play the victim. (All) I’ve done was work hard to prove people wrong… People lie and every one that know(s) me know(s) my passion to become somebody, but Satan is working overtime on me…. But I’m (going to) let God handle this… I will still work hard to provide for me and the ones I love. Please do (not believe what’s) going on. I just want peace… Sorry to everyone that is affected by this.”  You never know what the details will show in situations like these, so let’s just hope that justice (whatever its form) is served in the end.
  5. Testing the waters is a sham now that the NCAA caved in to several prominent whiners coaches and gives prospective NBA players a mere two weeks during  many schools’ exam period to gauge their stock.  We have a piece up on this today, and Gary Parrish chimed in as well with some of his own research from the NBA side of the ledger (result: most NBA teams aren’t interested in this right now).  If the NCAA has any interest in actually helping its student-athletes make educated decisions, then they’ll admit they flubbed this one and create a more realistic window for kids to get evaluated.  Well, at least they got the important stuff, y’know, like throwing ‘bows, figured out.
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Morning Five: Cinco de Mayo Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 5th, 2010

  1. Kentucky’s John Calipari is the news gusher that keeps on giving.  After a single year of work in Lexington, the school is already discussing a contract extension with the coach that would (ostensibly) keep him at UK until he retires.  Of course, Kentucky could give him a 1000-year contract and it would be relatively meaningless if he has his eyes on coaching a superstar like Lebron James in the League someday.  Last evening’s buzz is on the heels of rumors that the Chicago Bulls were interested in trying to lure the Squid back to the NBA.  Would the chance to coach Derrick Rose again (and no threat of vacated wins) and Lebron and D-Wade as free agents be enough to move on to Chicago?  You never know.
  2. This is pretty amazing if you think about it.  Long before the endless griping about a 96-team tournament and the subsequent decision of the NCAA to opt out of its current television deal with CBS in favor of a new joint deal with CBS and Turner Sports, the Blinking Eye Network approached ESPN to take the Big Dance off its hands.  In fact, facing up to as much as a $50M loss in 2010, CBS was willing to pay ESPN to take it off their hands.
  3. Bad decision, FTW, Alex.  Louisville’s Samardo Samuels has hired an agent and is locked into the NBA Draft even though most experts have him as a fringe second rounder at best.  Remember this from a few weeks ago?  It feels to us like Samuels just wants the hell outta dodge.
  4. Will the last player in the state of Iowa leave the lights on?  Iowa’s Aaron Fuller, an all-Big Ten honorable mention selection who averaged 10/6 in 2010, will resurface at USC for Kevin O’Neill, and Iowa State junior Charles Boozer will transfer out of Ames after a weekend incident where he is alleged to have assaulted a woman outside his apartment complex.
  5. If you can name the two current head coaching jobs still available, you likely already have your application in — Mt. St. Mary’s and Chicago State.  Thanks to Seth Davis’ wrap-up of this spring’s coaching carousel, we now know that factoid and you do too.  Check out the rest of his piece for a breakdown of the good and bad from this year’s version.
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