Morning Five: 08.27.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 27th, 2012

  1. Worrisome news was released on Friday from Saint Louis University when the school announced that its head coach, Rick Majerus, will be taking a medically-related leave of absence next season, leaving top assistant coach Jim Crews in charge. According to SLU, Majerus is currently hospitalized in California “undergoing evaluation and treatment for an ongoing heart condition.” As we wrote after the news was released, this is the sort of thing that could mark  a turning point in the longtime head coach’s professional career. Majerus is well-known as a guy whom you can only keep out of the gym by padlocking its doors, so it’s no joke that he’s choosing to give up the thing he loves most in order to take care of his health. We wish him nothing but the best on this latest twist in his journey, and certainly hope that even if he never coaches another minute of college basketball, he has a number of productive and fulfilling years still ahead of him. As for his Billiken program, with the core of a Round of 32 team returning to St. Louis, Andy Glockner writes that Crews will inherit a squad with both significant expectations and the added specter of Majerus’ health hanging over the team. Crews had some success at Evansville a decade or more ago, but there is reason to question whether he’s up to the task of running what is undoubtedly a team with Top 25 talent.
  2. The other big news on Friday was the announcement from Marquette that assistant coach Scott Monarch had been dismissed and that head coach Buzz Williams will suffer a self-imposed one-game suspension for what are admittedly rather mild recruiting transgressions — Monarch gave team gear and transportation to an unnamed recruit. To be clear, there is no evidence that Williams himself knew about the illegal recruiting benefits — his suspension derives from the coach’s duty to monitor staff compliance. According to the Marquette athletic director, Larry Williams, Monarch’s mistakes became compounded when he allegedly lied about them during the school’s internal investigation — had he been truthful from the beginning, he’d probably still be employed at MU today. This shows once again that the old adage is almost always true — the cover-up is more damaging than the underlying crime. Maybe someday someone will actually find themselves in such a situation and take this sage advice — it might end up saving his job.
  3. In recent days, the conviction of Oklahoma State forward Darrell Williams for allegedly sexually assaulting two female students at a party in December two years ago has come under fire by some in the non-sports national media. In the especially tense arena of national racial politics, a case like Williams’ where a black man was accused of heinous felonies by two white women and convicted by a nearly all-white jury is bound to raise some eyebrows. On Friday, an Oklahoma judge delayed Williams’ sentencing hearing on those convictions, citing a defense motion that new and possibly exculpatory evidence has been found that could force the judge to throw out the convictions and order a new trial. There’s no way of knowing whether the claim of new evidence has any merit, but with Jesse Jackson, Jr., in town and many commentators outside the sporting realm taking a curious interest in this case, it will be very interesting to watch how this unfolds.
  4. The NCAA made its ruling on former Connecticut and current UNLV forward Roscoe Smith‘s transfer waiver request on Friday, and the decision to deny the waiver — meaning Smith will become eligible in 2013-14 — could be a blessing in disguise for both the Runnin’ Rebels and Smith himself. UNLV already boasts a loaded lineup next season and the 6’8″ big man, who has two years of eligibility remaining, would be well  situated to slide into a starting spot in the frontcourt most likely vacated after Mike Moser’s presumptive last season as a collegian. Smith, as you recall, was a frequent starter on the 2011 UConn championship team (averaging 6/5 in 25 MPG), but like many of his Husky teammates, backslid a bit in his sophomore season (5/3 in 18 MPG). Still, there’s no questioning his talent when bought in and completely focused, so Dave Rice’s team will look forward to Smith’s leadership and skill in what they hope are the immediate years following UNLV’s first Final Four run in two decades.
  5. UNLV’s Smith may not see the court for another year, but another offseason transfer, Memphis’ Charles Carmouche, has enrolled at LSU and will join the Tigers for his senior year next season. This is actually Carmouche’s third transfer — the wiry guard from New Orleans began his career at hometown University of New Orleans, but decided to transfer upriver to Memphis when it appeared that UNO would downgrade from Division I athletics. After a solid junior season at UM in 2010-11, though, Carmouche’s senior season was derailed because of problems with his knees. Still, despite receiving medical clearance in January, he chose to not suit up again, and after graduating he was then free to use the grad-transfer loophole to go anywhere who would take him. Enter LSU, where new head coach Johnny Jones will welcome the scoring punch that Carmouche brings to Baton Rouge. It’s been a wild and woolly ride for Carmouche over the past four years, but we’re guessing that he’ll need to make the most of this final season, as his eligibility is unlikely to extend to yet another transfer destination.
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.08.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 8th, 2012

  1. For college basketball fans over a certain age watching the Summer Olympics, an oft-repeated nickname uttered by the likes of Bob Costas, Mary Carillo, Ryan Seacrest and others probably grates a little more than it should. The gold medal-winning US women’s gymastics team, as we all now know, has been labeled by someone lacking any institutional sports memory with the nickname “The Fab Five.” The five girls aged between 15 and 18 didn’t memorialize themselves with the name, but others — most notably former Fab Five mouthpiece and current ESPN commentator Jalen Rose — may stand to make bank from the trademarked name as the team rides its 15 minutes of fame on a barnstorming tour throughout the US this fall. As we saw mentioned on Twitter last week, the Olympics are fundamentally sports for people who don’t typically like sports, and there is no better example of the two groups weirdly crossing paths than this one. If anyone’s wondering, nobody will be talking about this ‘new’ F5 two decades from now — we think the iconic maize and blue legacies of Webber, Howard, Rose, Jackson and King are still safe.
  2. It’s taken much of a couple of decades for Michigan basketball to get back to an elite status, as the Wolverines will be a preseason Top 10 team next season. Another local school, Oakland University, has as a matter of fact been to just as many NCAA Tournaments under head coach Greg Kampe in the last decade as Michigan. On Tuesday, Kampe started the first day of a fast where the longtime Golden Grizzlies coach will imbibe nothing but juice for an entire month in support of Coaches vs. Cancer. Um, we just drank a glass of orange juice over here, but, wow. Seriously, though, this is a herculean task for someone no doubt accustomed to eating solid, and undoubtedly, good food — Kampe tweeted last night that his first day of fasting was complete and that “even a yogurt commercial” makes him hungry. To donate to Kampe’s fast in support of CvC, make sure to hit this site. We always make sure to donate around the time of the Jimmy V Classic, but the CvC is getting a double dip from us this year.
  3. Team USA’s men’s basketball team will play Australia this afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament, which will allow one of the two college basketball players in the event to take a shot at a team he no doubt idolizes. As Jeff Goodman wrote yesterday, St. Mary’s guard Matthew Dellavedova is looking forward to the challenge of matching up against NBA All-Stars Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul. The rising senior and current WCC Player of the Year is one of the two SMC starters in the Aussie backcourt (playing off the ball with Patty Mills), and his 8.2 PPG and 4.6 APG have helped his country reach the medal round. For a complete look at his Olympic statistics, check out the FIBA page on the shaggy-haired star. The only other collegian in the basketball Games, College of Charleston’s Andrew Lawrence, played roughly 18 minutes per game for host Great Britain, but he was only able to convert 4-19 field goals and committed nearly as many fouls (15) as he scored points (16). His Olympic experience — engaging though we’re sure it was — is now over as the Brits did not advance to the medal round.
  4. While on the subject of Dellavedova, his college coach at St. Mary’s, Randy Bennett, was voted by his peers as the second most underrated head coach in college basketball. The most underrated was Temple’s Fran Dunphy, who garnered a commanding 14% of the votes (Bennett got 9%). A couple surprises on the list were two of the most prominent names in college basketball — Kentucky’s John Calipari (7%) and West Virginia’s Bob Huggins (5%). With tomorrow’s release of the most overrated coaches in the game, is it possible that one or both of those two will also show up on that list? Check in tomorrow at CBSSports.com to find out.
  5. Finally today, it is clear that Oklahoma State center Phillip Jurick has little to no interest in playing college basketball again. Just two months after an incident where he was cited for driving on a suspended license, the 6’10” player who was already dealing with recovery from an Achilles tendon tear was arrested over the weekend for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Predictably, he was suspended by head coach Travis Ford and will not accompany his team on a 10-day exhibition tour to Spain, which begins today. A transfer from Chattanooga State who averaged 17 MPG in 26 games prior to the injury, he’s certainly piling on the hurdles that he must overcome to ever see another day in an OSU uniform again.
Share this story

Morning Five: 07.02.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 2nd, 2012

  1. It came a few days later than we expected, but the biggest college basketball news from the weekend was that Mississippi State guard Rodney Hood is heading to Duke. Hood told ESPN.com on Saturday night that Coach K said he could develop the 6’8″ wing into one of the best all-around players in the country. He’s already quite impressive, averaging 10/5 last season in 32 MPG for the Bulldogs while earning all-SEC freshman team honors. If it seems a little weird that he’s transferring to Duke, that’s because it is — Hood marks only the fourth transfer player that Krzyzewski has accepted during his long tenure in Durham. The other three — Roshown McLeod, Dahntay Jones, and Seth Curry — were all key contributors on good Duke teams (Curry, of course, is a rising senior), and McLeod and Jones both parlayed their time as Blue Devils into becoming first round selections of the NBA Draft.
  2. It was something of a rough weekend for college basketball in the nation’s midsection this weekend, as a prominent player and program were put on the defensive and will have some damage control to implement this week as a result. First, Central Florida’s Marcus Jordan, allegedly “animated, intoxicated and uncooperative,” was arrested early Sunday morning in Omaha, Nebraska, for getting into a fracas with two women outside an Embassy Suites hotel. He was released on Sunday night after being charged with resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, and obstruction. What on earth Jordan was doing in Omaha over the weekend is anyone’s guess, but he might be better served by mimicking his old man’s drive and determination on the court rather than in hotel parking lots.
  3. Forgive us for thinking that the feds spending valuable taxpayer dollars pursuing low-level marijuana traffickers is a complete waste of everyone’s time and energy, but occasionally an amusing anecdote spills out of one of these investigations and that’s what we have here. A federal prosecutor charging a miscreant named Samuel Villareal, III, of selling dope in the Kansas City area stated in an open hearing recently that his client list included a number of players on the 2010-11 Kansas basketball team. No specific names have yet been released, but we’re sure that both KU fans and their rivals have their inklings of who the offenders might have been. KU policy requires three positive tests before a player is suspended from action, and the NCAA does its own testing as part of the NCAA Tournament — still, what this situation proves more than anything is that there will always be hangers-on associating with prominent athletes around an elite program. It’s incumbent on the school to properly vet and limit contact with folks like Villareal as much and as early as possible. Otherwise, embarrassing public relations situations such as these are almost guaranteed to occur.
  4. For folks who work under academic calendars or mid-year fiscal calendars, Saturday night at midnight was an important moment as 2011-12 moved into 2012-13. While meaningless to most of us, Boise State was one entity who took the date very seriously — the reason is that the university was required to give the Mountain West at least one full year’s notice prior to leaving the conference or face a substantial $5 million penalty. The Broncos program gave notice on Saturday, meaning that its football program will compete in the Big East starting in the fall of 2013. But, as Andy Katz reported over the weekend, all of its other sports including basketball are currently hanging in limbo. The hoped-for outcomes is that the Big West chooses to accept Boise State for all other sports in the same way that it did for San Diego State, but given that it would be at least 500 miles to the nearest conference school (UC Davis), travel costs could be a big concern.
  5. To that end, Sunday at midnight also marked the exact point in time that the SEC became a 14-team league with the additions of Missouri and Texas A&M, while the Big 12 replaced its two lost members by adding West Virginia and TCU. For some interesting reads as to how fans reacted to the official transitions locally, check out the following writeups in their local papers: Missouri, Texas A&M, West Virginia, TCU. It may not be something we’re supportive of here at RTC HQ, but we, like everyone else, are going to have to learn to love it.
Share this story

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

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.
Share this story

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?
Share this story

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…
Share this story

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.
Share this story

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.
Share this story

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…
Share this story