Past Imperfect: Richie Parker’s 15 Minutes of Infamy

Posted by JWeill on December 29th, 2011

Past Imperfect is a series focusing on the history of the game. Every two weeks, RTC contributor Joshua Lars Weill (@AgonicaBoss|Email) highlights some piece of historical arcana that may (or may not) be relevant to today’s college basketball landscape. This week: the saga of New York City prep star and convicted felon Richie Parker.

There was never any middle ground when it came to Richie Parker. Either he was a criminal, a thug who represented everything wrong with the college game – that “win at all costs” mentality – or he was a kid who made a mistake he was overpaying for, a victim of a system rigged to punish and punish again a repentant man, no, a kid because of intense media pressure and political pressure and just flat out pressure.

So which was it? Was he trouble, a felon who shouldn’t be given chances that wouldn’t have been afforded a kid who couldn’t run, dunk and shoot a basketball like he could, or was he the quiet kid without a speck of bad behavior before who lost his senses for fifteen minutes on Jan. 13, 1995, in a high school stairwell when he and a friend intimidated a freshman classmate into performing oral sex?

Or could he be both? Or neither? Everyone had an opinion.

Parker's saga was a Sports Illustrated cover story in 1996.

Tabloids put the story on the cover and sports talk shows had a field day. Women penned editorials detailing their own stories of rape and abuse to show that no matter how repentant Parker was he would never have to suffer the lifelong fate of his victim. Some spoke movingly of second chances and of the mistakes they’d made. Women’s groups around the country mobilized. The victim’s family eventually publicly forgave him. Everyone had a stake, and everyone had firm convictions. And caught in the middle was Parker: 6’5”, athletic, shy, the eye of a storm all about him.

In June, Parker apologized to his victim, pleaded guilty to felony sexual abuse and was sentenced to five years probation and counseling, but that did nothing to quell the furor. Far from it. Now he was officially a felon. The school he’d accepted a scholarship promise from, Seton Hall, reneged on its offer under pressure. Wouldn’t be the right message to send, its president said. George Washington University, whose progressive and creative president offered a scholarship to both Parker and the victim, eventually also caved to intense dissatisfaction from alumni, trustees and student groups outraged by the possibility of a sex offender gaining admittance to their institution. Utah and Oral Roberts and Fresno State and Southern Cal backed off even sooner, the moment administration officials were tipped off of their coaches’ interest in Parker, usually by tabloid reporters like Barry Baum of the New York Post, who made his name breaking Parker stories that year. People lost jobs over Richie Parker.

Ultimately, there were no basketball options left for him after his plea deal. No administration was willing to have its reputation sullied in the press for admitting the radioactive Parker. And the press kept finding out who was interested and with a single phone call would end that interest immediately: ‘Did you know your coaches are recruiting a sex felon?’ Parker’s mother, Rosita, suffered chest pains from all the stress. Parker simply kept staring at his shoes, his once bright future vanishing before him because of those impulsive, those irrational, 15 minutes in the stairwell, a quiet kid now retreating further into his shell.

Rob Standifer, the coach at Mesa Community College in Arizona, took a chance on Parker. But while Parker flew out west, Mesa athletic department and  administration officials learned about him at the last minute and balked. Standifer was forced to resign. The school did allow Parker to matriculate but he couldn’t play ball. But after everything he’d been through, that was OK with Parker. Out there, far away from the turmoil of the city he’d been a basketball star in, he could work on his grades and keep in shape, all with the faint hope that someday he would get the chance to play college basketball, other than the NBA the only thing he’d ever really wanted.

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Morning Five: 09.06.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 6th, 2011

  1. Are we on the verge of the conference realignment free-for-all that we thought was going to happen last summer?  Texas A&M’s insistence on leaving the Big 12 presumably for the greener pastures of the SEC to the east, has the rest of the league running for cover.  Reports over the weekend suggested that once again Texas and Oklahoma are in backroom discussions with the Pac-12 to join the burgeoning west coast league, and like great white sharks in the Pacific, the other four major conferences are circling the remaining schools in hopes of divvying up the rest.  Conventional wisdom is that if Oklahoma bails on the Big 12, the league is effectively finished, but it is the school in Austin who holds the trump card.  One of the sticking points is what the Pac-12 would require UT to do with its Longhorn Sports Network — would it become one of the Pac-12′s new regional networks instead of a ‘national’ channel?  Or will Texas leverage its channel into another sweetheart deal, as suggested as possible on Monday when rumors of an ACC overture to the Longhorns were revealed?  ACC commissioner John Swofford denied that report Monday night, but the possibility of a 16-team basketball league containing Duke, UNC, Maryland, Texas, Syracuse and UConn seems absolutely ridiculous.  In a good way.  The one thing we know from conference realignment madness is that nothing should surprise anyone.  More news on this topic as it merits coverage, but for a comprehensive breakdown of the facts and rumors swirling right now, check out MrSEC’s wrapup from Monday.
  2. Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneurial success story (twice over) Mark Cuban has never been one to hold his tongue on an issue he cares about, and his post on Blog Maverick over the weekend is no different.  Bucking conventional wisdom to a certain extent, Cuban argues that the headfirst plunge by several schools into a group of a few superconferences will turn out to be a “huge mistake.”  He lists several intriguing reasons to support his argument, but the most compelling from our viewpoint was his discussion of how adding schools to a conference will not increase the value of the television contracts of the bigger league.  There must be some exceptions to this ‘rule,’ as in an example where Texas joins any other conference, but Cuban has forgotten more about media rights and deal-making than we’ll ever know so we’re generally inclined to figure he knows what he’s talking about here.
  3. Regardless of how the conference realignment mess ultimately settles out, the development and existence of Texas’ Longhorn Network has led to an arms race among individual schools seeking to reach their fans in the most direct way.  Over the weekend, another Big 12 school announced its response, as the University of Missouri is set to launch Internet-based The Mizzou Network on December 1.  The mostly free channel will broadcast games and competitions from non-revenue sports in addition to ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses at Tiger football and basketball, but it’s clear that the Texas/ESPN deal has put the pressure on athletic departments around the nation to progress or get left behind.  It’s yet to be determined whether a cable television model in the mold of LHN (currently having trouble getting traction with national carriers) or a fully digital network in the mold of Missouri’s (which can reach all of its fans directly) produces better outcomes for the school, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the biggest winners will be fans with team-specific content available to them 24/7.
  4. Now that schools are back in session for the fall semester almost everywhere, this is the time of year we start to see players with too much free time on their hands getting into trouble prior to returning to full-time practice in six weeks.  Over the weekend, Wake Forest sophomore guard JT Terrell was discovered asleep at the wheel of his car and charged with a DWI for a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.  Terrell, a promising freshman last season who averaged 11.1 PPG for the Demon Deacons, has since withdrawn from the school and is reported to be suffering from a “serious medical condition.”  Terrell represents the fourth WFU player to leave the school under difficult circumstances in the year-plus since head coach Jeff Bzdelik arrived. Wake also announced that senior center Ty Walker will not become eligible to join the team until after the fall semester, stemming from a suspension placed upon him in July.
  5. Moving over the Missouri Valley Conference, Drake also announced that two of its players including its leading returning scorer, Rayvonte Rice, will be suspended effective immediately for their alleged role in a petty shoplifting incident.  He and teammate Kurt Alexander, a senior guard, are accused of putting two packages of athletic socks into a bag and exiting a Finish Line store without paying for them.  Rice had one of the best freshman seasons in the history of Drake basketball last year, averaging 13.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG and also leading the team in blocks and steals.  He was a member of the MVC all-freshman and all-newcomer teams and was expected to become an all-MVC performer this year.  The two players told the police officer on the scene that they were “young and dumb” to explain their actions, and to that comment we can do nothing more than shake our heads.  Young and dumb, indeed.
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Morning Five: 07.28.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 28th, 2011

  1. It’s roughly 16 months away, but when is discussing the tropical paradise of Maui a bad thing?  The Maui Invitational released its roster of invited teams for its November 2012 island tournament, and one of its attendees, Butler, is still basking in the glow of a report stating its last two NCAA Tournament championship game runs were worth over a billion dollars in media publicity.  Well, the publicity train continues to roll, as Brad Stevens’ Bulldogs will join North Carolina, Illinois, Marquette, Mississippi State, Southern California, Texas, and host Chaminade in what promises to be another strong field.  It’s difficult to project any team two seasons out these days, but you can more than likely expect that, at a minimum, UNC, Butler, Texas and Marquette will all have strong squads in 2012.
  2. Get ready to see a whole lot more Pac-12 hoops on your television no matter where you live.  Starting about a year from now, the Pac-12 Networks will launch seven new channels for its fans, starting with a national network (presumably similar in scope to the Big Ten Network) but also with six regional networks featuring the six geographic areas where two schools are located (Washington, Oregon, NorCal, SoCal, Arizona, Mountain).  The national network will be available on the digital sports tiers outside of the local markets, which means that if you get the Fox Regionals, you’ll probably get the Pac-12 Network.  The networks will show roughly 35 football games and 100 basketball games each season in addition to the games already picked up by ESPN as part of its new $3B, 12-year deal.  Commissioner Larry Scott has crafted some innovative, forward-thinking deals to get his conference more notoriety; now he just needs to ensure that the product is something that people will want to see.
  3. Last season the NCAA Tournament debuted its “First Four” games, and Brad Brownell’s Clemson Tigers was one of the participants.  After defeating UAB in Dayton in the late game on Tuesday night, his team had to fly to St. Petersburg, Florida, to get to its Second Round game against West Virginia on Friday afternoon where they lost a close one down the stretch.  His primary beef is in having to play in an early afternoon slot on Friday after traveling all night after the Tigers’ first game, and it makes sense.  A few extra hours to recuperate that afternoon could have gone a long way in terms of tired and travel-weary legs, and after all, what’s the harm?  We know that CBS/Turner has heavy involvement in the selection of game tip times, but it shouldn’t be all that unreasonable to slot four teams into the sixteen late games on Thursday and Friday nights — the ratings will be fine regardless.
  4. We’re quite certain that if UCLA head coach Ben Howland could get a do-over on his 2008 recruiting class that was rated #1 in the nation, he’d take it in a heartbeat.  Jrue Holiday had one lackluster season before he was 1-and-done; Drew Gordon fell out with Howland and eventually transferred to New Mexico; J’mison Morgan never produced and landed at Baylor; Malcolm Lee played three semi-effective seasons before bailing to the NBA Draft without a guarantee.  That left Jerime Anderson as the lone survivor going into his senior season in Westwood.  A role player in the backcourt who similarly never lived up to his prep on-court hype, he was recently arrested on campus for stealing another student’s Macbook Pro.  A tracking device within the computer led police to Anderson, who was immediately suspended from the team and will miss at least the Bruins’ opener against Loyola Marymount on November 11.  If this allegation turns out to be true, we wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the final nail in the coffin of the illustrious UCLA Class of 2008.  Wow.
  5. This is one of those things that is so disheartening that you sometimes stop to wonder why you bother even to get up in the morning.  Earlier this week former Kentucky guard Desmond Allison was murdered in Columbus, Ohio, in an incident so completely senseless and illogical that it strains credulity.  According to the Columbus Dispatch, friends of Allison reported that the dispute that may have led to his murder involved a baseball cap that he was wearing while talking on the phone.   You read that correctly.  A baseball cap.  Reportedly, an ex-girlfriend of Allison’s removed the cap from Allison’s head which led to an argument between that woman and Allison’s current girlfriend.  Allison got involved in the dispute involving the cap, but soon walked away.  A bit later, three men (still unidentified) approached Allison when one of them (possibly a relative of one of the two women) began arguing with him and soon thereafter, shooting.  Allison died at a local hospital later that evening.  It’s mind-boggling, isn’t it?
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Morning Five: 06.03.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 3rd, 2011

  1. Let’s play “who is Coach K bashing here,” shall we?  In comments made to the Raleigh News & Observer this week, Coach K stated that he doesn’t want to see the ACC go to an 18-game conference schedule as the Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10 have done in recent years.  If the primary objective is to increase the league’s overall strength of schedule for NCAA Tournament purposes, Krzyzewski wants the other schools in the league to “schedule stronger,” and he felt comfortable enough with the current group of ACC coaches to take a shot at some of the previous ones.  He said that he felt some coaches were guilty of being  ”too territorial about individual programs” when it came to thinking about the league as a whole, which got us thinking about who he had in mind when he made that statement.  So who among the following list was Coach K referring to? Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Oliver Purnell (Clemson), Frank Haith (Miami), Dino Gaudio (Wake Forest), Gary Williams (Maryland), Al Skinner (BC), Sidney Lowe (NC State), Dave Leitao (Virginia).  Our best guesses: Hewitt and Lowe.   
  2. We mentioned yesterday the story coming out of Syracuse about freshman center Fab Melo getting into some trouble for damaging a woman’s vehicle during a dispute of some sort.  More details came out Thursday, and if any of the allegations in the police report are true, Melo is really going to have to check himself before he wrecks himself.  Jealousy is a dangerous imp that has destroyed many men before him, so our hope here is that he gets his rage under control and releases it in more useful ways, like on the basketball court in the form of rebounding and blocking shots. 
  3. Tennessee fans are no doubt hopeful that new head coach Cuonzo Martin has as much initiative and creativity in his head as his wife, Roberta Martin, does.  A few years back, Mrs. Martin developed a website called marriedtothegame.net, a niche social networking site that caters to spouses of coaches through all college sports.  There are currently over 700 people signed up for the site, where spouses trade information on the endless moves that their families must endure throughout coaching careers, how to handle child-rearing in such environments, and many other issues specific to their often-volatile profession.  As social networking moves into the next generation of sub-specialization, this sort of thing will become standard across all walks of life.  Kudos to Martin for being ahead of the curve and providing a supportive platform for the forgotten side of sports — the families. 
  4. There’s a lot of sniping coming out of the friendly confines of the Beehive State recently.  Last week, Utah Valley State, angling to become a basketball-only member of the WAC, accused Utah State of backroom politicking to keep the school from getting enough support to join the conference.  This was met with a refrain of “B.S.” from the USU folks, and they weren’t talking about science degrees.   Then on Thursday it was released that former Utah forward Josh Sharp is transferring to BYU after spending the last two years on an LDS mission in Texas.  New Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak is none too pleased with this development, stating that “there is an unwritten rule that players cannot be recruited by other schools while they are serving missions. To do so is not only inappropriate, but it creates an atmosphere of ill will.”  Unwritten rule or not, there is a written NCAA rule that says players coming off of missions do not have to sit out a year as a transfer; he will therefore be eligible as a Cougar in BYU’s first year as a member of the WCC in 2011-12.  Can’t wait till next year’s games between these schools.   
  5. UNC’s Harrison Barnes is already pretty good at a lot of things, but he’s not known as a playmaker for others yet.  His assist-to-turnover ratio last season was a paltry 0.73 and even though his natural gifts are as a scorer, he will need to develop his ability to find open people as defenses focus on him.  The answer?  Well, naturally, point guard camp.  According to Mike DeCourcy, Barnes is one of 17 collegians invited to the CP3 Elite Guard Camp in Winston-Salem, NC, beginning on June 10.  The objective of the camp is to develop playmaking skills, and several other notable names including Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin), Peyton Siva (Louisville), Kendall Marshall (UNC), Will Barton (Memphis), and Kenny Boynton (Florida) will also be there.  We can’t imagine that this sort of thing could hurt Barnes, but the cynical side of us wonder just how much Nike might have to do with this particular exception.  Hmm…
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Morning Five: 06.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2011

  1. UConn head coach Jim Calhoun cannot go to any public engagement this offseason without considerable analysis as to what his future plans may hold.  The latest such situation was Wednesday, where the three-time national championship coach spoke at the commencement ceremonies of one of his first employers, Dedham (MA) High School.  Despite a lightning storm in the area, Calhoun said that he envied the 176 graduates “for all the great things that [they] have left ahead” of them, but in an interview afterward, he said he wasn’t even thinking about his future at this time.  Unless Calhoun plans on pulling a Dean Smith and leaving the UConn program in the hands of his assistant coach, George Blaney (playing the save-the-day role of Bill Guthridge), we don’t see him retiring yet.  Having now had two months to reflect on his latest title and career, we think he knows what he’s going to do at this point — it’s just a matter of when he wants to announce it.
  2. We’re not sure we’ve ever seen something like this before, but in the wake of the Jim Tressel mess at Ohio State, Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne is asking Wildcat fans around the country to drop dime on UA players if they “ever know of a situation where a student-athlete is receiving an extra benefit (something that the rest of the student body would not receive).”  It’s certainly an innovative approach to a ubiquitous problem, and Byrne deserves accolades for at least acknowledging the possibility that Arizona players might do the wrong thing every once in a while.  Still… can you ever imagine an AD at an SEC school doing something like this?  They’d rather eat their own babies than support such a transparent nod to ethics.
  3. Speaking of the Southeastern Conference, the coaches on Wednesday voted in support of scrapping the East and West division format that it has had for two decades.  The reasoning behind this change is to reward the top four teams in the conference regardless of division by giving those schools byes into the SEC Tournament’s quarterfinals, and through some vague and undefined notion, help the overall profile of the league when it comes to postseason selections.  Considering the stark imbalance in recent years between the two SEC divisions — nine East teams have made the NCAA Tournament in the last two seasons versus none from the West — we’re having trouble understanding how removing two byes from the weaker division actually helps the conference profile.  Consider a 9-7 Mississippi State team, the West division winner, in 2009-10.  The Bulldogs received a bye to the quarters and were able to rest while #3 Tennessee (11-5, East) and #4 Florida (9-7, East) played in the first round on Thursday; MSU was then able to beat UF and #2 Vanderbilt (12-4, East) in succession before dropping an overtime game to #1 Kentucky (14-2, East) in the finals.  Although the Bulldogs didn’t get an NCAA bid, its bye to the quarters undoubtedly helped its postseason profile, and if they’d been the overall #5 seed instead, we’re not convinced that they’d have been able to make a similar run.
  4. From the players behaving badly department (noticeably quiet lately, to be honest), Syracuse’s Fab Melo was arraigned on Wednesday for a misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief related to “reaching through the open driver’s side window of a 2003 Chevrolet Impala, and breaking the turn signal control arm making the turn signal, headlight high beam control and windshield wiper control inoperable.”  Well, that’s certainly one way to do it.  The driver in question was allegedly a female SU student who has also filed a restraining order against Melo.  Something tells us that Melo is already running the stairs of the Carrier Dome over this.
  5. In the aftermath of the horrific tragedy in Joplin, Missouri, Frank Haith’s program and local school Missouri Southern are attempting to put together a charity basketball game in October to raise money for the victims of the three-quarter mile-wide tornado last week.  Mizzou already has its maximum allotment of two exhibition games scheduled for next season, but the Tiger program is applying for an NCAA waiver to allow it to play the Division II program in Joplin.  As Missouri Southern head coach Robert Corn said in response to the waiver, the NCAA has “no heart” if the governing body chooses not to allow it.  Agreed.
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Morning Five: 04.28.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 28th, 2011

  1. We didn’t get to this on Wednesday, but Seth Davis checked in this week with a piece analyzing the offseason coaching carousel thus far.  There’s not much there to quibble with, as it’s been a relatively quiet year in this regard.  We completely agree with his take that Tennessee hiring Cuonzo Martin was a very smart play, while Missouri going after (and getting) Frank Haith was perhaps the most questionable.  At the mid-major level, Richmond’s Chris Mooney and VCU’s Shaka Smart choosing to stick on the banks of the James River was the most surprising (how often will runs like theirs at those schools happen?).  Jim Larranaga to Miami (FL) (with Kenny Anderson?) and Sydney Johnson to Fairfield?  Those two situations were just weird.  As of this writing, there are only five jobs left open — Mason, George Washington, UC Davis, Alabama A&M, and Florida A&M.  The Patriots have an excellent team returning next season; that opening left by Larranaga is clearly the true remaining plum of the group.
  2. Perhaps mad about John Calipari’s possible gig with the Dominican Republic (joking), Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has canceled his dalliance with Puerto Rico to coach their national team.  Citing conflicts with trying to manage both head coaching duties as the primary reason for his withdrawal, what was left unsaid in his statement on Wednesday was that he was trying to use the summer period to get some great practice time and competition for his Louisville squad against legitimate international competition.  The NCAA allows international summer trips for college teams once every four years, but they’re often against vastly inferior competition and, in this case, the governing body told UL that Puerto Rico, as a US territory, wasn’t “foreign” enough.
  3. Just prepare yourself for roughly one or two of these stories per month until we hit October — it never fails.  Two Winthrop players, including its leading scorer and a key reserve, have been accused of criminal sexual misconduct involving a 19-year old former student.  Sophomore guard Robbie Dreher and freshman center Julius Francis, according to the police report on the matter, allegedly assaulted the woman by restraining her in Francis’ room as the two performed sexual acts on her despite her claim of repeatedly saying, “no.”  Dreher is the team’s top returning scorer at 12.7 PPG in over 31 minutes per contest last season, while Francis played much more sparingly but has great size and considerable promise.  Needless to say, the two have been suspended from the team indefinitely.
  4. It was Huskies Day in Hartford, as the UConn men’s basketball national champs, the women’s Final Four team, and the Orange Bowl football team all visited the Connecticut State Capitol on Wednesday in a combined celebration of their successes.  Kemba Walker took the opportunity to address his comment made last week about only reading one book “cover to cover,” clarifying his academic prowess at the school (graduating in three years) fby stating that he was referring specifically to loving a book so much that he sat down to read it in one sitting.  Jim Calhoun said that he’s still considering retirement, but there’s no timetable on a final decision — we have a feeling he’ll be back on the sideline next year.
  5. All Jimmer, all the time.  That’s what we might have coming soon with the report that a television show production company named Tupelo-Honey Productions will be creating a reality show involving The Jimmer and his family in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft on June 25.  They plan on shooting over 100 hours of film over 30 days, and the question on everyone’s mind is whether anything Jimmer does or says when he’s not making 28-footers will be, you know, interesting.  Not to go too far down this path, but he’s Mormon — we shouldn’t expect anything resembling baby-mama drama or wild forays to the clubs with his agent.  Drinking a caffeinated soda might be the biggest taboo we’ll see from the guy.  It’ll be interesting to see how this company finds a storyline within its footage to make this something that the general public will want to see.
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Morning Five: 04.26.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 26th, 2011

  1. George Washington University fired longtime coach Karl Hobbs on Monday, and it appears to have been a complete surprise to him.  In ten seasons at the helm in Foggy Bottom, he went 166-129 (84-76 A-10), but after a nice run in the middle part of the decade where GW averaged 24 wins and made three straight NCAA Tournaments, his teams have been consistently mediocre for the last four years (averaging 13 wins and finishing near the bottom of the Atlantic 10 in three of the four years).  Given its academic and international focus in addition to its location in the heart of DC, GW isn’t the easiest school in the world at which to build a great basketball program, but Hobbs did as well as could be reasonably expected for a little while.  He eventually wore out his welcome, though, with a tendency to recruit academically questionable kids and a stubborn refusal to fix a strained relationship with both fans and the local media — it’ll be interesting to see who GW brass gets to replace him.
  2. Former San Diego star and current accused pointshaver Brandon Johnson made his first appearance in federal court yesterday as a result of his arrest for allegedly fixing a 2010 game and soliciting a former teammate to do the same in a 2011 contest.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, he pleaded not guilty to all charges and informed the judge that he could not afford his own counsel and would need an appointed one.  He will remain free on a $25,000 bond until trial is set for later this spring — he may want to spend his time in the next month or two prepping for routines.
  3. From players facing time to those who have already done it, Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery announced over the weekend that his team would add JuCo transfer player Anthony Hubbard to its roster next season.  The reason this is a little different than your typical offseason transfer is that Hubbard spent four years in prison as a result of a robbery conviction that he suffered as an 18-year old in Woodbridge, Virginia.  The 6’5 wing will start at small forward, but according to McCaffery, he has a versatile skill set that will allow him to play multiple positions as a Hawkeye.  From what Hubbard is saying, it appears that his head is on straight and is thankful for the opportunity he has to play Division I basketball — still, he should expect to hear all kinds of things on the road in places like West Lafayette and East Lansing next season.
  4. As we mentioned yesterday, the NBA Draft deadline came and went on Sunday night.  The early entrants who have not yet signed with an agent will have a grand total of two weeks to decide if they’re going to stick with the draft or head back to their college campuses for another year.  Luke Winn breaks down the ten schools with the most to lose in the next two weeks, and unsurprisingly, Kentucky with its possible loss of three starters is at the top of the list.  Mike DeCourcy names his four schools who have been hit hardest thus far (with players not returning), and it might surprise you the school he has listed at the top.
  5. This article by the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Rick Bozich takes a look at the NBA Playoffs from the perspective of a college hoops fan.  While we take issue with his choice of “top fifty playoff scorers” as the only metric to determine playoff performance, he still found some interesting results from the analysis.  For example, which school do you think has gotten the most scoring bang for its buck in this year’s playoffs so far?  Any clues?  Would you believe… UCLA, with Russell Westbrook, Trevor Ariza and Jrue Holiday?  Yeah, go figure…
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Morning Five: 04.20.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 20th, 2011

  1. Predictably, Bob Knight’s comment from a speaking engagement over the weekend about Kentucky’s 2009-10 starters “not been to class that [spring] semester” has gone over like a lead balloon in the Bluegrass State.  Former Wildcat stars Patrick Patterson and DeMarcus Cousins shot back today through the popular social networking medium known as Twitter (ensuring Knight wouldn’t see the comments directly), with Patterson stating his graduation and teammates’ GPAs “speak for themselves”; and, Cousins stating that he finished out that semester “strong,” even completing all his classes before going to the NBA.  On Tuesday, Knight apologized: “My overall point is that one-and-dones are not healthy for college basketball. I should not have made it personal to Kentucky and its players and I apologize.”  Thanks, General!  We understand the point Knight was trying to make, but in losing track of a key component of the argument against one-and-dones known as facts, he came off as an older, more famous Joe the Plumber than, as others might have us believe, the Grand Czar and Protector of the Sanctity of the Game.  Memo to Knight: get on fishin’.
  2. This week’s Knucklehead Award goes to Kansas forward Thomas Robinson, who was cited by Lawrence police for his involvement in a fight outside a bar called The Cave last week.  Of course, we recognize that Robinson has gone through some of the most horrific times that a young person can experience with respect to the loss of his mother and grandparents in a very short period of time.  But trying situations such as these usually turn out one of two ways, both of which are on the extreme ends, and Robinson would do well to find his way toward positivity because it won’t take many more situations like these to let his prodigious talents go to waste.
  3. The Voice of the Tar Heels, Woody Durham, is hanging up his microphone after forty years wearing the headset in Chapel Hill.  According to the Durham Sun, he has called 23 bowl games, 13 Final Fours and six men’s basketball national championship games while working with four men’s basketball coaches, six football coaches and four athletic directors at UNC.  But for anyone passing through the airwaves of “Carolina basketball” at any point in the last four decades, it was Durham’s work as the voice of Dean Smith’s Heels that will forever resonate in our ears.  Best of luck on the happiest of trails, Woody.
  4. Your daily NBA Draft news…  Washington State’s Klay Thompson will leave school a year early, and is unlikely to return.  Ken Bone will have quite the rebuilding process in Pullman next season without the services of all-Pac-10 players Thompson and DeAngelo Casto back in the fold.  The son of former #1 pick Mychal Thompson is projected as a late first round/early second round selection.  Speaking of NIT teams, Northwestern junior forward John Shurna announced that he will test the waters this spring, but he is not currently projected as a selection and is likely to return for his senior season.  Finally, as if anyone was expecting otherwise, Kentucky three-point marksman Doron Lamb announced that he would be returning to Lexington for his sophomore season.  As for the other two Wildcats everyone is waiting on — Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones – there are rumors that announcements could come as soon as today, and according to BK’s mom, he already knows his decision.
  5. Introducing what we’re calling The Degree of Calamity Scale, as penned by Mike DeCourcy yesterday.  MD breaks down the eight players who have already entered the NBA Draft without signing with an agent who would be very well served to come back to college for at least another season of growth.  Of course, we agree on all counts, and one of the major dangers of folks who support the compromise idea of the NBA adopting a MLB-style rule for early entries is that the slog to the bottom will eventually result in dozens of high school seniors thinking they’re “ready” for professional basketball in much the same way that the names on DeCourcy’s list currently do.  Generally speaking, players don’t make the best decisions about this sort of thing, and neither do GMs — they both need to be saved from themselves.
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Morning Five: 04.12.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 12th, 2011

  1. In absolutely no surprise whatsoever, UConn All-American and Final Four MOP Kemba Walker is expected to announce that he will forgo his final season of eligibility in Storrs and enter the NBA Draft.  His decision to go pro has been an open secret for some time, as he will graduate in May and his jersey has already been retired into the rafters at Gampel Pavilion.  The RTC NPOY will without question go down as the most popular player in UConn history, and when you consider some of the tremendous names who have come through that program — Chris Smith, Ray Allen, Rip Hamilton, Emeka Okafor, etc. — this is high praise, indeed.
  2. Conversely, it was a rather large surprise that a presumptive top five pick, Baylor’s Perry Jones, announced on Monday that he will be returning to Waco for his sophomore season.  The 6’11 forward had a solid 2010-11 campaign, averaging 14/7 and earning a spot on the all-Big 12 freshman team, although his offensive production tailed off in the later part of the season.  Jones’ return, along with UNC’s Harrison Barnes and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger (supposedly), means that three of the very best members of the Class of 2010 will be back playing college basketball again next season.  Thanks, NBA lockout.
  3. The Knoxville News-Sentinel reported on Monday that the NCAA secondary violation that contributed to Bruce Pearl’s dismissal last month involved the director of basketball operations providing two free tickets to a player’s mother.  According to a report sent from UT to the SEC discussing the violation, neither the coaching staff nor the player knew of the violation at the time, which begs the question as to why such a relatively minor problem was deemed a final straw in leading to Pearl’s firing.  Of course, there was the 30-point Second Round NCAA loss to Michigan where his players quit on him… there’s that, too.
  4. While on the subject of tickets, one of the Kansas “consultants” to the KU Athletic Department who was involved in the selling of ducats for private profit was sentenced yesterday to 46 months in federal prison.  Kenneth Blubagh and his wife Charlette, the former Director of the KU Ticket Office, had pleaded guilty to bilking Kansas out of nearly a million dollars in ticket sales over the past half-decade that they used to buy extravagant vacations and other lavish toys.  The best line from this article referred to Kenneth’s role as consultant: “Blubaugh…was on the Kansas Athletics payroll as a consultant from August 2007 until January 2010. Prosecutors say they still aren’t sure what consulting duties he had handled, other than furthering the conspiracy.”
  5. Some transfer news…  St. Louis center Willie Reed, one of two star players (along with Kwamain Mitchell) involved in an on-campus sexual assault last summer and subsequently booted from school for the fall semester, has dropped out of SLU after having become reinstated in January.  There’s no report as to whether he plans on transferring anywhere else, but he’ll obviously need to get his academic house back in order after missing two consecutive semesters if he plans on playing college basketball again.  Also, South Carolina guard Ramon Galloway is leaving the Gamecock program for LaSalle, despite playing nearly 25 MPG and averaging 11/3 for Darrin Horn’s squad last season.  He represents the seventh player to transfer out of the program in Horn’s three-year tenure at the school.  Considering that SC has finished at or near the bottom of the SEC East the last two seasons, this isn’t the kind of confidence-inspiring news that Horn needs as he tries to rebuild that program.
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Morning Five: 04.10.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 11th, 2011

  1. The season is officially over so it’s time for players to start acting like knuckleheads again.  This weekend’s edition comes to you from Gainesville, Florida, where two Florida players — sophomore forward Erik Murphy and freshman forward Cody Larson — were arrested after allegedly trying to break into a parked car in St. Augustine late Saturday night.  Larson was already on a short leash with head coach Billy Donovan as a result of his involvement in a painkiller scheme during his senior year of high school, but Murphy, who averaged 4/2 last season, was expected to start for the Gators in 2011-12.  The most disturbing part of this story?  That the two players reportedly hovered near a bar’s cash drawer before bouncers ejected them, at which time they decided to break into the car — a frightening proposition in the “could have been worse” category.
  2. The biggest coaching news over the weekend involved something that didn’t happen, specifically that former UCLA/Kansas/everybody in the NBA head coach Larry Brown was not selected as the next captain of the UNLV ship in Las Vegas.  Despite his public overtures for the position, UNLV decided to go with BYU assistant coach Dave Rice, a former Rebel assistant who also played on the two best teams in program history — the 1989-90 national champions and the 1990-91 Final Four team.  Rice was a somewhat controversial choice locally, as public support was largely behind Reggie Theus, one of the best players in program history and the former head man at New Mexico State; but he was largely responsible for BYU’s offensive attack that featured NPOY Jimmer Fredette the last several years, and he claims he wants to bring the “Runnin’” part back to the UNLV program (Lon Kruger’s teams were rather methodical).
  3. In case you missed it, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette received the Wooden Award on Friday night in Los Angeles.  With his receipt of the most prestigious men’s award now in tow, Fredette ended up winning all six of the major NPOY awards this season.  This is the fourth time in the last five years that  unanimity across all awards has occurred, with only Evan Turner and John Wall last season splitting awards as the sole exception.
  4. Adam Zagoria reported on Sunday that Manhattan College had hired Louisville assistant Steve Masiello as its next head coach.  The school had initially made an offer to LIU’s Jim Ferry, but they couldn’t figure out the financial terms, so the Jasper administration went with Masiello instead.  He’ll have a five-year deal and a leg up on New York-area recruiting given his origins from the area (Westchester County) and the extensive amount of players that Louisville has pulled out of the region the last few years — most notably Earl Clark and Samardo Samuels.  Speculation is that Pitino’s son, Richard Pitino, will return to Louisville from Florida to take Masiello’s place on the Cardinal staff.
  5. This is a little dated, but for all of us who have a lady friend (or six) in our lives from November to April, it undoubtedly rings very true.  (h/t Peter Robert Casey for his tweet alerting us to this particular brilliance)

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Morning Five: 03.02.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on March 2nd, 2011

  1. The biggest news of Tuesday was undoubtedly the loss of BYU’s Brandon Davies, a sophomore forward who was banging his way to 11/6 nightly, picking up scraps left over from Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery, the two leading scorers.  Davies allegedly broke the school’s honor code, and he was suspended for the rest of the season.  The Cougars are tracking toward a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, but they’ll need to prove that they can play just as well without Davies in the lineup as they have with him to satisfy the NCAA Selection Committee.  Forward Noah Hartsock is expected to move into Davies’ vacated center position, but Hartsock’s power forward spot will need to be filled by a less experienced player such as Kyle Collinsworth or Charles Abouo.  Very tough break for Dave Rose and the BYU program in its best season in a generation.
  2. In other news involving personnel losses (or non-losses), UNC backup guard Reggie Bullock will miss the remainder of the season with a torn lateral meniscus that he suffered during the weekend’s Maryland game.  This is not a huge loss for the Heels, as Bullock was only contributing 6/3 in about fifteen minutes per game this season, but he was third on the team in three-pointers made (29) and this will make Roy Williams’ team a little more suspect against zone defenses the rest of the year.  In much better news, Kansas State’s Jacob Pullen had his right wrist x-rayed after banging it in Monday night’s game against Texas, and although it was sore and swollen, there is no broken bone.  He is expected to play this coming weekend in Senior Day festivities at Bramlage Coliseum against Iowa State.
  3. Luke Winn gives us his top eight potential bid stealers for the next two weeks — teams who could make strong runs through their conference tournaments to knock someone like Virginia Tech or Michigan off the ‘last four in’ line.  Winn’s list is a good one, but we’d perhaps add a few more names to the discussion: Washington State (Pac-10), Alabama (SEC), San Francisco (WCC) and any number of teams from Conference USA.
  4. Remember former Binghamton guard DJ Rivera, the former America East star whom coaches refused to vote for POY in 2009 even though he was clearly the best player in that league?  Oh, he also was partially responsible for the implosion of the Binghamton program when he was arrested in the fall of 2009 for swiping a debit card and subsequently using it to purchase snacks, cigars and a large-screen television before getting caught.  His arrest along with Tiki Mayben’s commensurate arrest for selling crack cocaine resulted in several players getting kicked off the team and a national scandal that the school is still recovering from.  Why is this relevant now?  On Monday, Rivera pleaded guilty to the crime — fourth degree criminal possession of stolen property — and he will face nine months’ probation, which, if he keeps his nose clean, will allow him to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor and pursue a basketball career overseas.  This plea marks the final chapter in the scandal — BU has gone 20-40 since the program was destroyed that summer.
  5. Maybe these guys should talk to our friends at HSAC so as to learn how to properly perform an interesting study.  Virginia Tech, fresh off three straight years on the wrong side of the bubble, commissioned statisticians at the College of Science to determine what the biases are that go into making bubble selections into the NCAA Tournament.  Their conclusion: a team’s RPI, its strength of schedule, and its historical pedigree factor prominently into successful bids.  In other words, everything you already knew.  Across campus, no doubt, Hokie researchers have recently proven that water is indeed wet and sunshine comprises the majority of daylight.  Here’s a memo to Seth Greenberg: how about instead of hanging your hat on a few big-time wins every season, you beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, especially at home.
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Breaking News: Karen Sypher Still Hates Rick Pitino

Posted by rtmsf on January 24th, 2011

It’s been some time since we’ve mentioned Rick Pitino’s old friend and flame, Karen Sypher.  You recall that the middle-aged blonde was convicted of extortion last fall for trying to bilk Pitino of millions of dollars and later accused the Louisville coach of raping her after the feds caught on to her crazy scheme.  She’s had a couple of sentencing hearings delayed already as her attorney earnestly (and we’re sure, honestly) tries to put together more evidence for a re-trial motion.  She’s now due for sentencing to a federal penitentiary on February 18 of this year.

All of this extra free time has apparently given Sypher more creative license to concoct additional stories involving Pitino as a horrible, horrible man.  In this weekend interview with Geraldo Rivera of all people, she states that Pitino threatened to have her four kids buried in the concrete of a bridge in New York if she refused to keep quiet about their tryst on the floor of Porcini’s and her subsequent pregnancy (that Pitino paid for her “health insurance”/abortion).  Apologies for the light volume on this clip, but it’s really worth hearing.

Well, we’ll give her credit for leaving no tried-and-true cliche unturned.   When all else is lost, you might as well go with the Italian/mafioso meme.  Perhaps next week, she’ll claim one of Pitino’s African-American players carjacked her and forced her at gunpoint to perform disdainful sex acts; and the week after that, she’ll be on Nancy Grace accusing a Pitino associate who looks like a leprechaun of breaking into her bedroom to “snatch her people up.”  There seems to be no line between fantasy and reality with this woman — any and all things are possible.

Can someone out there please make her go away?  Please?

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