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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Comings & Goings: Aminu Going Pro; UH Hires Dickey

Posted by rtmsf on April 2nd, 2010

The biggest news in Comings & Goings in the last 24 hours was the announcement from Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu that he will be leaving the school for the pros this season.  He will hire an agent, which means his Demon Deacon career is over.  Aminu is a versatile 6’8 player who averaged a double-double (16/11) and can play both on the perimeter and in the post.  He is expected to be chosen in the top half of the lottery this year.  Aminu and fellow big men Tony Woods and Ty Walker were part of the highly-rated recruiting class that pressured Wake Forest brass to hire Dino Gaudio three years ago after the sudden death of coach Skip Prosser.  Only Aminu has developed as expected, though.

The University of Houston yesterday announced that they were hiring James Dickey for their vacant head coaching position.  Dickey is best known for his development of the Texas Tech basketball program from a backwater to a 30-2 Sweet Sixteen season in 1996.  Most recently, he was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State until 2008, but he has been out of coaching since then.  UH is taking a bit of a chance with this hire, as Dickey’s Texas Tech program was put on probation in the mid-90s although Dickey himself was never implicated in those violations. 

In other head coaching news, maybe the rumors involving Tubby Smith leaving Minnesota for Oregon, Auburn, or just about anywhere will die down as he said on Thursday the school is working on an extension for him.  Of course, that means virtually nothing even after the ink dries, but if true, it’s at least a signal to potential suitors that Minnesota is willing to pay for Smith’s services.  Kent State’s Geno Ford received a two-year extension yesterday as well.  In just his second year at the school, he led the Golden Flashes to the NIT and won the MAC Coach of the Year award.

 

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Comings & Goings: Pitino, Dixon Extended; Sean Kearney Fired

Posted by rtmsf on April 1st, 2010

The biggest coaching news today had to do with a couple of extensions of existing contracts.  First, Louisville extended Rick Pitino’s deal through 2017, which would put the historically itinerant coach at 64 should he remain at the school through the life of the contract.  He’s already been at Louisville for nine seasons, which is his longest stay in any one place in his career.  He will also receive a $3.6M loyalty bonus on Friday as part of the new deal.  The other extension went to Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, who had been rumored to have received an offer from Oregon earlier this week.  His extension will keep him at Pitt through the 2018 season, and we don’t see any chance he leaves the situation he has there short of one of the major players calling (Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, etc.).   Meanwhile, George Mason’s Jim Larranaga, riding a 12-year winning season streak, also received an extension from his school through the 2016 season.  The all-time leader in wins at GMU, he’ll have plenty of time to put together another opportunity for a run in the Tournament.

New St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin believes that the NCAA Tournament is in the near-future of his program with 94% of its offense returning next season from a team that was 17-16 and made the NIT.  He expects to recruit nationally and is hoping to hire an all-star staff of east coast guys to help with recruiting.  One name that he’s hoping to bring on board in an advisory capacity is former Purdue great Gene Keady, the coach who gave Lavin his first job.  At least one columnist believes that the reason Lavin (and UTEP’s Tim Floyd) are working again is because of their visibility.

Quick trigger in mid-majorville, as Holy Cross fired its head coach Sean Kearney after a single 9-22 season.  The AD said that the dismissal was an affirmation of how important basketball is to Holy Cross.  So… Billy Gillispie can get two years at Kentucky, but Kearney only one at HC?  Seems ridiculous, but there’s probably more behind the scenes to this than just wins and losses.

Two major names announced today for the NBA Draft: Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney and Kentucky’s Daniel Orton.  Delaney, the ACC first-teamer who led the league in scoring this year at 20.2 PPG will test the waters to see what his options are.  As of now, he is not considered a serious prospect, but that may change based on his workouts.  Orton only averaged 3/3 in 13 minutes per game for the Wildcats playing behind DeMarcus Cousins, but scouts still like his 6’10, 255-lb frame and his ‘upside,’ whatever that means.

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Late Morning Five: 11.14.09

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2009

morning5

Since it’s the weekend, we’ll allow you a couple more hours to sleep in after last night’s mammoth-sized slate of games.

  1. Kevin Coble Watch: Northwestern announced Friday that Coble will be seeking a second medical opinion on his foot injury.  Does that mean he didn’t like what he heard from the first doctor?
  2. Three BC players (Rakim Sanders, Corey Raji and Courtney Dunn) have been suspended by coach Al Skinner for unspecified team rules violations.  It didn’t impact the Eagles tonight in a 31-pt thrashing of Dartmouth (look at Tyler Roche with 30/5 blks!), and it won’t on Tuesday night against St. Francis (NY) either…
  3. Colorado head coach Jeff Bzdelik had to miss his team’s opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff due to a family emergency.  Assistant coach Steve McClain, who was a head coach at Wyoming for ten years, took over admirably, leading the Buffs to an 88-72 win over UAPB last night.
  4. This is a really great story.  BYU head coach Dave Rose, who battled and defeated pancreatic cancer over the summer, was rewarded with a five-year contract extension today that will ensure his family’s security over the next half-decade and beyond.  Does he deserve it? — well, he’s only off to the best four-year start in the school’s history (97-34, .740) — so we’d say that’s a resounding yes.
  5. Shameless self-promotion – remember that RTC Live will have two really good mid-major battles today.  We’ll be at the Creighton-Dayton game beginning at 1pm ET and the Davidson-Butler game starting at 2pm this afternoon.  We hope to see you stop by.
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08.21.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2009

It has been a loooooong week around these parts, but now that we’ve crowned a Team of the 2000s, let’s move on to some other goings-on and nuggets of news floating around the college hoops world…

  • Comings and Goings.  There have been a few announcements of players who are out for the upcoming semester as we’re heading into fall matriculation.  The most notable are Villanova wing Reggie Redding and Florida big men Eloy Vargas and Adam Allen.  Redding was suspended by the university arising out of an incident where marijuana was allegedly found in his car at an accident, but he is expected to return for the spring semester.  Allen recently had surgery for a stress fracture and Vargas is academically ineligible for the fall semester.  Although neither were major contributors for Florida in 08-09, they were expected to provide depth in the frontcourt this season.  On the flip side, former Dookie Elliot Williams received his waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to suit up immediately for his hometown Memphis Tigers this season. 
  • 2009 NIT Bracket.  The pairings were announced a week ago, but we’re just now getting around to analyzing it.  They’ve seeded the top four teams by region (#1 Duke, #2 UConn, #3 LSU, and #4 Arizona St) in a solid, if not spectacular, field.  But did anyone else notice that they mismatched the seedings?  Take a closer look at the thumbnail below.  If the top eight seeds win their first game, then we should be left with pairings of 1/8, 2/7, 3/6 and 4/5, right?  In this NIT bracket, #1 Duke would play #8 Charlotte, so that’s ok; but, #2 UConn would play #6 Hofstra, #3 LSU would play #5 WKU, and #4 Arizona St. would play #7 TCU.  What’s the point of this?  If you’re going to take the time to seed teams by expectation, you should probably do it properly rather than trying to slot teams based on regional travel convenience.  Sigh…   For what it’s worth, Duke seems to always win this thing, but depending on how quickly replacement players develop on the other top seeds, any of the others could surprise.

2009 NIT Brackets

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Buzz: Jim Calhoun on Verge of Contract Extension?

Posted by rtmsf on August 6th, 2009

We’ve been just as guilty as many others in speculating that Jim Calhoun, with his health issues and intolerance of alt-media gadflies, might be close to retirement.  A report today from the New Haven Register, however, dampens that assertion.  According to their sources, Calhoun is close to signing a multi-year extension with UConn, which probably belies the notion that Mr. Crankypants has any intention to retire soon.  Calhoun has one year remaining on his current deal which pays him a relatively paltry $1.6M per year (compared with the multiples of that other coaches are making), and if you hadn’t heard, he’s still making F4s at age 67. 

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06.24.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 24th, 2009

What’s this?  Two days in a row with FBs?  Indeed.  There’s a lot to get caught up on…

  • Duke Downer.  The biggest news today was the news that Duke point guard Elliot Williams (he of the happy, happy feet) will be leaving the Duke program so that he can move closer to Memphis, his hometown.  Reportedly his mother is facing a life-threatening illness there and Williams wants to be nearby for support as she battles her disease.  He plans on petitioning the NCAA to waive the one-year transfer obligation so that he will be able to play immediately at his new school (presumably Memphis).  This is undoubtedly a major blow to Coach K’s backcourt in 2009-10, as he’ll now be left with only Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith to log minutes there.  Big things were expected of Williams based on his insertion into the starting lineup at midseason and his excellent all-around play down the stretch.  Duke fans are largely crushed by this news, given the unfortunate circumstances causing it as well as the huge, gaping hole in the backcourt it leaves (while, ironically, the perfect fix named Seth Curry can only wait and watch next season).  In other Duke news that came out today, Coach K is the highest paid Duke employee by far ($3.6M last year) – no surprise there.
  • Like Father, Not Like Son.  A bit of a surprise today is that Jeffrey Jordan (you know, that Mike guy’s son) is ending his basketball career at Illinois to focus on his studies.  This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year that Jordan’s hard work and commitment to the program had resulted in a scholarship for the rest of his time at the school.  Guess he’d had enough.  Actually, we can totally understand this.  Jordan was undeniably under more pressure to perform than any walk-on turned scholarship player in the history of college basketball, and although it made for nice copy, it’s safe to say that Jordan probably didn’t love the sport anywhere near the same as his famous dad.  He probably reached a personal epiphany of some kind that included a heart-to-heart with pops, and once MJ gave him the blessing, he’s now free to pursue the activities he truly enjoys.  Good for him.  And good for him for working his tail off in his two years at Illinois to go from walk-on to scholarship to expected contributor, despite limited talent.
  • Vegas, Baby.  The WAC has followed its mid-major brethren WCC and Mountain West Conferences by moving its postseason tournament to Las Vegas, where the Orleans Arena will host beginning in 2011.  This comes on the heels of a very successful WCC Tournament at the Orleans last year, where a sold-out, raucous arena was shown on national television for St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga.  The MWC already holds its conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center down the street, and this move by the WAC means that Vegas will become the basketball destination for every legitimate conference (save the Pac-10) west of the Rockies every March.  Sounds like a really fun environment for fans of these leagues.
  • No, No, NoEveryone got this wrongDerrick Rose wasn’t flashing a gang sign in the below pic, he was practicing universal remote hand signals for the letter “B” on the SAT exam.

derrick rose hand signals

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