Morning Five: 01.12.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 12th, 2011

  1. Rick Pitino confirmed in yesterday’s news conference that Louisville forward Jared Swopshire will miss the rest of this season with a groin injury.  The senior has missed the entire season already and would probably be eligible for a redshirt should he choose to pursue one.  Pitino said the problem is that he’s simply not getting any better and it appears that he will require surgery to repair this injury.  In some other injury news, Virginia confirmed that Mike Scott will miss the remainder of its season because he also needs surgery to repair his left ankle.  Scott played in ten games in November/December and was UVa’s top scorer and rebounder in those games.  The senior is right on the eligibility cutoff for a medical redshirt next season, so let’s cross our fingers that he doesn’t have to finish his collegiate career with a broken season.
  2. This report from Percy Allen, the Washington beat writer for the Seattle Times, has a few additional details about the allegation of sexual assault involving a Husky player over the weekend, but it does not name the player nor will the team hold anyone out of practice or games at this point in time.  The article notes that the players are off limits to the press at this time and gives additional details as to the alleged incident.  There are no winners in a situation like this, but if it turns out that the story is true, we certainly hope that justice is served.
  3. You’ve waited for it all year, and it’s back.  Luke Winn’s 2010-11 Style Guide.  From the Reeves Sleeve to Scotty Hopson’s “Fresh Prince” high fade to Marcus Jordan’s accessories, it’s all there.  One of our favorite columns of the year, by far.
  4. Seth Davis’ Hoop Thoughts from Monday has quite a bit more meat from his interview with NCAA president Mark Emmert over the weekend.  Davis hinted at the primary weakness that the NCAA’s enforcement folks have in the public view right now, and Emmert seems to fail to understand the depth of the problem.  When asked about a seeming inconsistency in the organization’s recent decisions and punishments, Emmert’s response was that these cases (Cam Newton, Ohio State, Renardo Sidney, Josh Selby) were “very different cases with very different facts.”  Undoubtedly true.  We know that the NCAA isn’t a court of law and we don’t have an NCAA version of Lexis/WestLaw to research all the case law pertaining to each situation; but the NCAA needs to establish a core set of transparent jurisprudential guidelines beyond the enigmatic rulebook so that schools and players will have a reasonable basis to know what to expect.  As it stands now, every enforcement proceeding appears to be decided on a “case-by-case” basis, which ultimately means that the guidelines shift so much in the aggregate that nobody can figure out just where the bright lines are.  When Emmert refers to people being “shocked” by a decision on Enes Kanter’s ineligibility, he’s making the same mistake in that he’s looking at the individual facts of that case in a vacuum.  He’s not considering that other, similar cases were decided differently, and the justification needed to distinguish between all of these cases has become downright impossible to discern.  That is what is bothering most people… not the Kanter decision itself (only Kentucky fans care about that).
  5. Jeff Goodman hooks us up with his constantly-evolving midseason transfer list.  Ole Miss appears to be the big winner thus far with the addition of Jelan Kendrick next season; that is, assuming that he doesn’t try to fight everyone on the roster prior to becoming eligible next December.
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Morning Five: 01.11.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 11th, 2011

  1. News broke late Monday that a Washington player is currently under investigation for sexual assault of a sixteen-year old girl whom he allegedly met on Saturday night through Facebook.  It’s notable that the report out of Seattle cites the player as “prominent,” which is language that it would be unlikely to use if they were talking about a walk-on or other benchwarmer.  With Abdul Gaddy already on the shelf with a torn ACL and now this disconcerting news, Lorenzo Romar’s team could be on the verge of self-destruction after a strong first half of this season.
  2. Some transfer news for your Tuesday morning.  Former Minnesota guard Devoe Joseph will end up in Oregon to play for Dana Altman next season, while Nebraska forward Christian Standhardinger announced that he is transferring to La Salle.  Both of these players are difference-makers for their new programs.  Joseph was attracted to the more uptempo style of play employed by Altman, while Standhardinger will step into a starting role with plenty of playing time next season on the Main Line.
  3. Speaking of second chances, Kansas forward Mario Little has been reinstated by head coach Bill Self and will be eligible to play immediately.  Little has missed KU’s last six games as he worked through some legal issues surrounding a misdemeanor battery and other criminal charges from an incident that took place in mid-December.  Prior to his suspension, Little was averaging 6/4 in about sixteen minutes per game backing up Tyshawn Taylor and Tyrel Reed.  The rich get richer…
  4. Bill Carmody received a “multi-year extension” recently at Northwestern even though he’s been coaching in Evanston for ten-plus years now and has yet to get the Big Ten school to the NCAA Tournament.  Granted, his career record of 143-160 (.472) at the school is virtually unprecedented, but even though it now appears that the Wildcat program is moving in the right direction (back-to-back NITs in 2009 and 2010), Carmody still has more tenth and eleventh place finishes (four) than he does Big Ten finishes in the top half (one).
  5. The nation’s top 25 freshmen players, as presented to you by Basketball Prospectus.  Since it comes from that site, you know that they have the statistics to back up the choices.  The most amazing thing?  That preseason AP All-American Harrison Barnes hasn’t even performed well enough to be considered one of the top 25 frosh in the country so far — would anyone have taken that bet prior to November 1???
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That’s Debatable: Santa’s Wish List

Posted by rtmsf on December 24th, 2010

That’s Debatable is back for another year of expert opinions, ridiculous assertions and general know-it-all-itude.  Remember, kids, there are no stupid answers, just stupid people.  We’ll try to do one of these each week during the season.  We’re fairly discerning around here, but if you want to be included, send us an email with your take telling us why at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

This Week’s Topic: Santa is stopping by your house this week, and he’s bringing you one thing that you really want this college basketball season and he’ll take one thing away when he leaves.  What are those two things?

Ned Reddick, RTC contributor

My wishes for Christmas are pretty simple. I would ask Santa to bring Kyrie Irving back. No matter what you think of Duke it would be difficult to find a part of his game that a basketball fan would not enjoy. He’s fundamentally sound, athletic, and he plays hard. Although his absence makes the season more interesting in the sense that it makes the championship picture less defined, with Irving suiting up for the Blue Devils they would be the heavy favorites to win the title. With him on the sidelines in street clothes they are just one of about four or five teams that have a legitimate shot at the title. As for taking something away I would ask Santa to make players stop putting themselves in bad situations. I know they are just college students who as a group tend to do dumb stuff, but I wish they could stop taking things that the NCAA deems as impermissible benefits (like clothing or money) or just breaking the law (like a DUI or stealing other people’s stuff). It’s unfortunate that they are willing to risk a potentially lucrative career for a short-term pleasure so I hope Santa can take that away.

Brian Otskey, RTC contributor

This is a bit out of left field, plus it will never happen, but I’d want to see live video of the debate inside the committee room in the days leading up to and on Selection Sunday. I think it would be fascinating to see what they focus on rather than what we fans and the media lurch onto as the most important criteria. I’m glad the NCAA allows the media to participate in a mock bracket for a few days because it’s fun to read about the process and how they went about it, but nothing compares to seeing the real thing. Also, last year’s bracket was riddled with procedural errors and I’d be interested to see if they really focus on that or not. As for what I’d get rid of, that’s easy. All the agents, handlers, AAU coaches, etc. that make up the nasty part of recruiting. Seriously, why does a high school kid have to have his “people” decide where to go or what to do? What person that age has to have an entourage? It is terrific that the NCAA appears to be cracking down but they have a long, long way to go.

Andrew Murawa, RTC contributor

Well, I asked Santa to bring me the title of the commissioner of all sports, but he just mumbled something under his breath. “But Santa, all I want to do is ban the use of domed stadiums in sports that are meant to be played outside,” I said, but he saw right through that, knowing that a college football playoff would be coming along right after that. And you know Santa, he’s a big fan of those bowl games. Anyway, after some haggling, Santa has promised me a couple of four-day national holiday weekends in March. He’s got an in with the holiday creation board for some reason – I’m guessing blackmail, but you never can tell with Mr. Claus. He’s a mysterious one. And, just as a personal favor to me (we go back quite a ways), when he leaves on Christmas morning, he’s taking away four NCAA Tournament at-large bids, although I suspect he’s just going to dump them somewhere near the site of the Great Alaska Shootout on his way back home.

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Morning Five: 12.22.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 22nd, 2010

  1. After Josh Selby’s impressive performance last Saturday against USC, KUSports.com took the time to size up his competition for national FrOY.  From what we’ve seen so far (and excluding Duke’s Kyrie Irving from the argument), the list of the top freshmen in the country looks like this: 1) Jared Sullinger, Ohio State; 2) Terrence Jones, Kentucky; 3) Perry Jones, Baylor; 4) Harrison Barnes, UNC; 5) Brandon Knight, Kentucky.
  2. Marquette’s Buzz Williams and USC’s Kevin O’Neill have agreed to play a game in Milwaukee next season, with the obvious storyline being the return of O’Neill to the school where he got his first head coaching job in the late 80s.  The only catch is that it won’t actually count –  affixing onto the trend of some schools to play scrimmages closed to the public and media before the season begins, the two teams will hook up next fall at the Al McGuire Center in lieu of an exhibition game.
  3. Semester break always means mid-year transfers.  A couple of notables came out of the Northeast yesterday, as Seton Hall sophomore forward Ferrakohn Hall announced he was leaving the program, effective Tuesday.  The Memphis native averaged 5/3 in ten games so far this season, but it was clear to insiders that he was having trouble fitting into new coach Kevin Willard’s system.  Across the Hudson River, sophomore guard Quincy Roberts announced he is leaving St. John’s after seeing his playing time dwindle this season, the first under new head coach Steve Lavin.  Roberts missed the entire 2009-10 season with migraines, so we hope that he’s managed that difficult medical condition and will land somewhere else with a fresh start.
  4. Over the weekend, Kent State’s second-best scorer Carlton Guyton (12.7 PPG) was suspended indefinitely for felony theft where he allegedly took a woman’s car without her permission.  The woman is also alleging some kind of sexual assault against Guyton, but police have not yet charged the player with a crime to that effect.  The Golden Flashes are 9-3 after defeating Youngstown State on Tuesday night, but let’s hope for the sake of everyone involved that this is some kind of a misunderstanding between friends and lives aren’t ruined here.
  5. This is a fascinating article from the Omaha World-Herald about Nebraska’s difficulties as a football-dominant school in attracting fans to come out to its basketball games.  The Huskers are now 10-2 but home games so far this season are only playing at 41% of capacity at the Devaney Center.  Not much was expected from Doc Sadler’s team that went 2-14 in the Big 12 race last season, but learning that a major conference school with 23,500 students has fewer than a thousand student season ticket-holders (935 to be exact) is borderline criminal.  The chance to see Kansas, Texas, K-State and Mizzou passing through Lincoln this season should be enough for many students to justify the paltry $2 per game cost for season tickets.
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Morning Five: 12.21.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 21st, 2010

  1. Dan Wolken’s weekend piece on the status of Memphis basketball provides much-needed perspective about both a team dominated by freshmen who are not yet ready to rule the world, and Josh Pastner as a coach.  It was written prior to last night’s victory over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, but the salient points remain.  Memphis fans see what Calipari has done at Kentucky and expectantly want the same thing — but even Cal had quite a few missteps along the way at Memphis before he got things completely rolling.  Great article.
  2. Coach K, who Monday night just tied Dean Smith for second on the all-time men’s DI list with 879 wins, and Geno Auriemma, whose UConn Huskies just tied the all-time UCLA winning streak of 88 games over the weekend, were honored yesterday as the co-recipients of USA Basketball’s COY award for 2010.  Both legends have won gold medals in the Olympics and are the reigning national champions in their sport — we think they might be solid choices.
  3. Missouri will be even lighter at the guard position for Wednesday’s Braggin’ Rights game with Illinois in St. Louis as a result of freshman Phil Pressey’s broken right ring finger, an injury he suffered in practice on Sunday.  With starting point guard Michael Dixon currently under suspension from coach Mike Anderson and no timetable on his return, Marcus Denmon or Matt Pressey will have to step up and shoulder the load of ballhandling duties in the interim.  The Illini force a fair amount of turnovers so Mizzou’s replacement point guards will have to take care of the ball to give the Tigers its best chance to win.
  4. Michigan State’s Korie Lucious will serve no additional jail time as a result of his August 30 arrest for driving a vehicle while over the legal limit.  He spent a night in jail at the time and will have to pay nearly $1000 in court costs, but his charge was reduced to reckless driving.  Opposing fans may believe this represents some form of special treatment, but for a first-time offender such as Lucious, this is pretty typical.  Let’s just hope he’s learned his lesson and doesn’t do it again.
  5. From the anything-you-can-do, I-can-do-better, nyah-nyah-nyah department, you’ve undoubtedly heard over the past several days that Louisville head coach Rick Pitino has been in negotiations to take over the reins as the Olympic coach for the Puerto Rico national team (why US territories get “national” teams, we’ll never understand).  As Jeff Goodman writes, Pitino’s motive for taking this on has everything to do with self-interest (recruiting) and nothing to do with the Olympic spirit.  Well, news came out today that suggests Kentucky coach John Calipari might be interested in doing the same sort of thing an island or two over at the Dominican Republic.  This is still in rumor status, but if there’s a shred of truth to this… are you serious?  This is sorta like buying a Benz only to have your neighbor next door show up the next day with a Bentley.  One would hope that such interest by Calipari in coaching a national team in the Caribbean isn’t all about petty jealousies and pissing contests between coaching supernovas, but we’re not completely sure about this.
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Morning Five: 12.17.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 17th, 2010

  1. Mike Krzyzewski said on his XM radio show on Wednesday that he expects Kyrie Irving will be out of action for “a long time.”  He didn’t specifically elaborate on what that might mean, but given the relative gloom and doom coming out of Durham over the last week, we’re leaning toward not seeing him in a Duke uniform again this season.  Coach K has been called many things in his career over the years, but one of the things we’ve not heard about him is that he’s an embellisher or BSer — he pretty much tells you what he thinks to be true.  With that in mind, we believe him when he says Irving may not play again this season.
  2. Well, it’s not the Nobel Peace Prize, but maybe that’s next…  Bill Self, John Calipari, Ron Hunter, Mike Sutton and Scott Nagy have been nominated for the first United Nations Nongovernment Organization Positive Peace Awards in the coach category.  Yes, there actually is a coach category.  Self and Sutton were nominated for work with other charities, but the other three were honored as a result of the work they’ve done with Samaritan’s Feet, a charity that provides footwear to needy children around the world.  The article actually says that two of those places were “Haiti and Detroit,” which is rather depressing that an American city has such inherent structural and poverty problems that it appears in the same sentence as a third-world country.
  3. Luke Winn is back with his weekly power rankings, a compendium of information where if you don’t walk away after reading it having learned sixteen new things, then you’re smarter than the average bear.  This week is particularly insightful because he talked with numerous assistant coaches to get the insider scoop on all of his ranked teams and their best players.
  4. Kansas’ Mario Little has been suspended indefinitely by Kansas for a late-night altercation on Wednesday involving his girlfriend that resulted in his arrest for battery, criminal damage and criminal trespassing.  Without reading too much between the lines, it appears that Little got upset when he found another man at his girlfriend’s residence, and things escalated to a bad place from that point.  Regardless of the reason, it’s clear that Bill Self and KU are taking this seriously, especially in the light of the past year-plus of poor decisions by KU athletes.  The 6’6 Little was averaging 6/4 in around sixteen minutes per game, but certainly Kansas has plenty of depth at the guard position especially with Josh Selby debuting on Saturday against USC.
  5. In this article at the Omaha World-Herald, Lee Barfknecht writes that former UTEP, Texas A&M and Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie could be a candidate for the Texas Tech job if things don’t turn around for Pat Knight there soon.  From the entire blogosphere to TTU brass, we believe that such a move would be a great hire — Billy Clyde needs to be back in college basketball somewhere (big grin).
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Morning Five: 11.12.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 12th, 2010

  1. It’s Opening Night, part trois.  Yeah, we know that the “official” opening night was on Monday and then again on Wednesday with the 2kSports CvC games, but there are 135 games tonight that say quite differently.  Tonight is the first night that teams not in that exempted tournament are allowed to hold games, and the majority of D1 teams have chosen to do so.  Why they’re exempted we have no freaking idea, but that’s an argument for another time.  The point is that college basketball is back in earnest this evening, and we can formally agree that the season is underway.  For a list of each night’s biggest games around the country, be sure to check out the “Nightly Nonsense” box above.
  2. Hoosier Nation rejoiced as Tom Crean beat out North Carolina and local-sensation Brad Stevens and Butler for the services of 6’9 power forward recruit Cody Zeller yesterday.  Zeller was one of only two of the top 25 players left on the big board, so under normal circumstances this probably wouldn’t be so newsworthy.  But the takeaway here is that Zeller, while likely not a program-changing recruit, is the first major homegrown talent to sign with Indiana since Crean took over in Bloomington nearly three years ago.  There was a time not too long ago when every kid who grew up in the Hoosier State wanted to play for the Hoosiers, but the last decade-plus hasn’t been all that kind to the program as player after player left for other environs.  Re-building that pipeline of in-state talent is essential to IU becoming once again a player commensurate with its historical presence as a top-six program along with Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, UNC and UCLA.  This is the first step toward that end.
  3. Villanova’s JayVaughn Pinkston has been charged with two counts of assault and harassment and therefore will be held out of games until his legal situation is settled.  He will be allowed to continue with other team activitites, which includes practicing with the team.  VU has three games in the next eight days (vs. Bucknell, Lafayette & Marist), so we wouldn’t expect to see him in any of those.
  4. Sigh…  Minnesota’s Devoe Joseph is the latest and greatest player who has now been suspended indefinitely for “off the court issues” involving a violation of team rules.   According to the article, the issues are not academic nor injury-related, so that means it’s something he’s not doing up to Tubby’s standards of conduct.   He will not be playing in the Gophers’ season opener against Wofford nor next week’s game against Siena and traveling to the subsequent Puerto Rico Tipoff. Let’s hope he figures it out, because Minnesota needs him.
  5. You certainly now know that Kentucky’s Enes Kanter took $33K in salary as a member of a Turkish club team which the NCAA deemed makes him ineligible to play college basketball.  Jeff Goodman writes that it was a risk well worth taking for John Calipari, whose reputation wasn’t going to change regardless of the NCAA’s decision, and despite how unlikely it was that Kanter would ever have become eligible (not even Oak Hill Academy would take him).
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Morning Five: Midnight Madness Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 15th, 2010

  1. It’s been approximately 190 days since we last saw collegians take the floor in their uniforms, but as you surely noted above on our countdown clock, we’re almost down to all zeros.  Tonight is Midnight Madness or whatever people are calling it these days, but the primary concern to everyone reading this site is that COLLEGE HOOPS IS BACK, baby.  For a guide to many of the major events that will be scattered throughout the country tonight and in future weeks, here’s our post outlining the when and where.  ESPNU will be showing the proceedings tonight starting at 9pm ET at several of the schools on the list including Duke, Kentucky, Gonzaga, Memphis and Kansas State, so lock yourselves in this evening and get ready for another great season ahead.
  2. Good work if you can get it…  Former legendary Purdue head coach Gene Keady will join Steve Lavin’s new staff at St. John’s in the role of grandfatherly advisor/executive assistant.  Lavin was an assistant under Keady at Purdue from 1988-91, during which time the Boilermakers went to the NCAA Tournament twice (Keady went back fourteen more times at Purdue).  For some reason we love seeing these kinds of situations when the student brings back his mentor.
  3. Wake Forest’s Tony Woods, the 6’10 junior center who was relieved of his duties as a player for the Demon Deacons, isn’t suffering for suitors as to his next stop.  Jeff Goodman reports that Louisville, Kentucky, WVU, Georgetown, Auburn, Xavier, Cincinnati and others have expressed interest in bringing on the talented but heretofore underachieving player.  We’re all for second chances around here, but there’s clearly no honor among thieves — lots of young people make “mistakes,” but how many of them kick and fracture the spine of the mother of his infant?  Good things seem to find those who have pro size and can occasionally rebound and score a few points, eh?
  4. In what we cannot even possibly begin to describe as anything other than awkwardly hilarious, Ole Miss students, faculty and alumni on Thursday voted that their new mascot should be the Rebel Black Bear, earning 62% of the vote to beat out the Hotty Toddy and the Land Shark.  Colonel Reb has been officially retired, but does anyone else find the use of skin/fur color to describe a cartoonish bear inspired by William Faulkner as something better left to schools without such a violent and ugly racial history?  Just sayin…
  5. Yesterday was  John Wooden’s 100th birthday, and although the Wizard of Westwood wasn’t with us to celebrate it, the UCLA family and his own relatives held their own parties to honor his legacy.  We’ve said this before, but we think it would be a fantastic commemoration of the man and his contributions to the game of basketball if the entire 2010-11 season was dedicated to Coach Wooden — the NCAA and its media partners could easily make this happen, so they should.

Wooden's New Portrait Was Unveiled at UCLA on Thursday (LA Daily News/H. Gutknecht)

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Morning Five: Columbus Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 11th, 2010

  1. As you know from last week’s news, Baylor guard LaceDarius Dunn was arrested for felony assault charges against his girlfriend, Lacharlesla Edwards, even though she later came out to say that she would not cooperate with authorities if they move forward with prosecuting him.  The university then made the next logical move to suspend Dunn from classes, as they typically do with any student charged with a felony.  As Gary Parrish wrote on Friday, no matter what blunt force Edwards (and her dad) say made impact with her jaw, it may not be enough to shield Dunn from legal redress and Baylor from losing out on what could have been another tremendous season.  One Texas columnist, however, doesn’t believe that Baylor will have the stones to make the correct decision here — pointing out that UNLV’s Tre’Von Willis  faces a mere three-game suspension for allegedly choking a woman last summer.  An interesting wrinkle in the Dunn situation is that ultimately the school president will have to make the call on whether he ever sees time in a green/gold uniform again… and who is the new Baylor president?  None other than Ken Starr, the former independent counsel/investigator of President Bill Clinton who uncovered the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and someone certainly no stranger to controversy or afraid of making unpopular decisions.
  2. You may have missed the news on Friday afternoon, but UConn announced its self-imposed sanctions relating to the Josh Nochimson/Nate Miles scandal from a couple of years ago, and the general consensus around the web is that a two-year probation involving a loss of one scholarship each year will not satisfy the NCAA.  UConn choosing to stand behind its two-time national championship coach is unsurprising given the stakes, but ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil gets to the heart of the matter in her scathing characterization of Calhoun as simply another modern-day Sgt. Schulz (that’s a Hogan’s Heroes reference for our younger readers).
  3. Pac-10 Commish Larry Scott says that a decision about how the league plans to divide into two divisions should be forthcoming very soon (perhaps by the end of this month).  The question of whether to divide the four California schools up (Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC) or keep them together has created considerable wrangling as both the top traditional basketball and football draws reside in Los Angeles.  There’s also the issue as to whether a division format would work in basketball as the SEC has utilized for the last two decades; or whether a model like the ACC where basketball comprises a single twelve-team league would work better.
  4. That didn’t take long.  Kentucky head coach John Calipari is already making attempts to temper expectations about the 2010-11 version of his Wildcats.  He’d better, as even if UK manages to get lottery pick Enes Kanter eligible, the losses of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and the guy everyone forgets, Patrick Patterson, will be more than the additions of Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb and company can make up for.
  5. The common adage is that Times Square in Manhattan is the crossroads of the world, and that very well may be true; but the people who started that phrase certainly weren’t talking about the Manhattan (Kansas) that Frank Martin currently resides in.  Thanks to some new direct flights out of the small Kansas airport that connects central Kansas to Dallas and Chicago, the K-State coaches can finally overcome the perception that their Manhattan is just short of impossible to get to.  In the past, coaches typically had to drive two hours east to get to the Kansas City airport, but now they can fly their recruits directly into Manhattan, which makes for a huge recruiting advantage especially when you don’t have to endure the ignominy of driving them right past Lawrence (home of KU) on the way there.
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Morning Five: 10.07.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 7th, 2010

  1. Has anyone else noticed that the little countdown clock above is down to seven days and change until Midnight Madness hits?  Yeah, thought so.  One of the problems with MM (inasmuch as there can be a problem with something so completely awesome) is that many of the events around the country have become, well, rather boring.  The Maryland blog Testudo Times took the Terps’ 2009 version to task for lacking any forethought or originality whatsoever, and have offered a list of improvements that many other schools should also consider utilizing next week.  The best idea we know of, though, isn’t on there — which is to lose all the 7 pm “family-friendly” start times in favor of actually holding the events at 12:00 midnight.  Back in the mid-90s, ESPN would start with several eastern schools at the witching hour and move west hour-by-hour showing highlights from each event across the country, much as the news channels do on New Year’s Eve.  It was fantastic, especially if you attended one of the early ones then got to go home and watch the rest.  The crowds were raucous and it was compelling viewing for every college basketball fan across the nation.  Nowadays… less so (but still awesome).
  2. In an effort to consistently apply game rules across the 32 different conferences and 347 teams in college basketball, the NCAA has established an LLC to put all of the officials under one platform.  The mission of the new corporation will be “to increase the pool of officials; standardize messaging; more consistently apply playing rules, points of emphasis and mechanics; and remove “entry barriers” to those who are interested in becoming basketball officials.”  Hey, if it means that a Big Ten slugfest is called the same way as a Pac-10 roadrace, we’re all for it.
  3. Get ‘er Dunn?  On Tuesday news broke that Baylor star LaceDarius Dunn had been indefinitely suspended due to a domestic violence incident in August involving his girlfriend for which he was also arrested by Waco police.  Yesterday, said girlfriend Lacharlesla Edwards went on the record stating that what occurred (a punch) was actually an accident and that she has no interest in pressing charges or cooperating with police on the matter.  The local DA will still have the discretion to pursue the charges if he thinks he has the evidence to do so — it’s simply tough luck for Dunn that he doesn’t live in Ingham County, Michigan.
  4. Speaking of our favorite District Attorney in the Wolverine State, the Michigan Messenger continues to come correct with its cage-rattling about sexual assault allegations involving two players on the Michigan State basketball team.  After last week’s police report was released by the paper, the DA publicly provided transcripts of interviews with one of the alleged assailants and the victim to justify its decision to not bring charges against the two.  The Messenger responded by showing the documents to three experts in the field of criminal law — “a former Ingham County prosecutor, a defense attorney and a nationally recognized expert in sexual assault investigation and prosecution.”  Interestingly, the prosecutor said he would hesitate to bring the case, while the other two experts had trouble understanding why, at a minimum, further investigation would not be warranted.  Great stuff.
  5. Amen and pass the ammo we say in response to Gary Parrish’s article yesterday that explains just how tired he is of all the offseason negativity that goes on in the game today.  We don’t really believe that there’s any more bad behavior than there ever was, but it seems as if two things have happened in recent years to make it seem worse.  First, the media has changed, for better or worse.  Through no small part of people and sites like us here at RTC, there’s always another story or angle to dig up and talk about — trust us, we know, as this very feature thrives and depends on that very precept.  That endless chase for stories forces everyone, including the so-called mainstream media of which Parrish is a part, to up their games and talk about the next piece of news, no matter how relatively trivial (social networking makes this even more real-time in nature).  Second, the NCAA has gotten more serious about enforcement, and that means that high school players are increasingly being scrutinized for their associations with agents and other unsavories both before and after their enrollment as a freshman player; and, schools are finding that they need to run a much tighter ship because the days of only a few NCAA gumshoes covering the entire nation are gone.  Ten years ago a story like LaceDarius Dunn’s probably wouldn’t have gotten much run outside of Texas and the various Big 12 outlets; nowadays it’s a major story on every national site covering college basketball.  The landscape has most definitely changed.
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Morning Five: 10.04.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 4th, 2010

  1. It has indeed been a very tough summer for Tom Izzo, what with his players finding various forms of trouble, even more injuries, and his own highly-publicized courtship with the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Fanhouse’s Matt Snyder writes that if there’s anyone in college basketball coaching circles who can handle adversity and still come out the other end with a Final Four-caliber team, it’s Izzo.  You’ll hear no disagreement from us on that count, but much of that will also depend on which two players were allegedly involved in an August sexual assault and whether the university itself will explore its own punishment options (see #2).
  2. A situation involving two unnamed St. Louis players that is eerily similar to the one going on in East Lansing caught our eye near the end of last week.  In that incident that dates from the spring, two SLU players were accused by a woman of sexual assault but the local prosecutor failed to find enough evidence to substantiate her claim and bring charges against them.  Subsequently the university, operating under looser rules of evidence, charged the players based on violations of the student code of conduct, and both could be facing major suspensions or expulsions if their appeals are not rendered favorable.  The conclusion of this situation is definitely worth watching especially in light of the allegations surrounding the above MSU players.
  3. Pete Thamel’s piece on Nurideen Lindsey’s long road from the rough and tumble streets of Philadelphia is a great read — we hope that Lindsey manages to avoid the trouble that he escaped in Philly (two of his brothers were killed) next year when he returns back to the northeast (from Redlands Community College in El Reno, Oklahoma) to play for Steve Lavin at St. John’s (as he probably will).
  4. Dan Hanner of YABB does a great job elucidating the numbers to echo some of the concerns we spoke of last week with respect to Harrison Barnes’ addition to North Carolina.  He’s a phenomenal player and blue-chip recruit, but how does his addition to the team address their primary issues, i.e., spotty guard play (especially at the point) and the losses of Ed Davis, Deon Thompson and the Wear twins?  Short answer — it doesn’t.
  5. Memphis freshman Will Barton on Friday night: “We’re going to win the national championship this year, I’m guaranteeing it!”  Ahh yes, the hubris and folly of youth.  His response to everyone ridiculing him for that comment on Twitter Sunday night: “Everybody making a big fuss abt me guaranteeing we win the national championship but I don’t see what the big deal is. What was I suppose 2 say? We gonna go 2 NCAA tournament. Think big & do it bigger.”  We think we’re going to enjoy covering this guy.
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Morning Five: 10.01.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 1st, 2010

  1. Hehehehehehe……..  see that date up there, folks?  Yeah, it says “10,” meaning October.  October means autumn, changing weather, falling leaves and Halloween.  It also means we’re officially two weeks from Midnight Madness (we refuse to call it anything else even if it’s not at the witching hour anymore), and we’re just over a month from the first official games (November 8: Seattle @ Maryland; Rhode Island @ Pittsburgh; Navy @ Texas; UC Irvine @ Illinois).  The 2010-11 RTC Season Preview will kick off in earnest on Monday, and we’re fully stocked around here with espresso beans and other stimulants to get us through it.  Prepare yourselves.
  2. We discussed the allegations made against two unnamed Michigan State players on Wednesday, ultimately concluding that something messy happened in Wonders Hall (yes, that’s the name) on the MSU campus on the night of August 29-30 even if the Ingham County District Attorney didn’t believe so.  Today the source that originally reported the story, the Michigan Messenger, released a copy of the official police report with names redacted.  If you’re the type of person who is creative in piecing together subtle clues from a document such as this, you can narrow down the list of possible suspects to only a few options.  You can engage in that exercise on your own time, but we’re intrigued that much of the national media is treating this story as if it doesn’t exist.  As far as we can tell, only USA Today and some local Michigan news stations and papers have reported this incident so far, but a police report where it clearly shows one player corroborating the testimony of a victim about not being “free to leave” during an alleged sexual assault (p.8) is worth wider consideration in our estimation.  ESPN, quick to ramp up the 24/7 news cycle on a Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault story, is deafeningly silent on this one — but we’re not holding our breath.
  3. Remember the story that class of 2011 uber-recruit Anthony Davis‘ father was requesting $200,000 for the services of his son for one year at the college of his “choice?”  Two hundred large seemed like a hefty price tag to us at the time, that is, until we read this piece where a San Diego high school player named Chen Cai reportedly took over $30,000 in gifts from a Chinese marketing company called Zou Marketing.  The 6’8 senior forward (who may actually be 20 years old instead of 17) averaged 26/17 last year and has led his team, Maranatha Christian, to three straight section runner-up finishes.  As a result of documents showing that he took the gifts, though, Cai has already been declared ineligible to play this coming season, and you’d have to figure that he’s also going to be ineligible to play college ball as well.
  4. We’re fairly certain that even if Wisconsin had gone 36-0 heading into Final Four weekend in 2011, most college basketball fans still wouldn’t be able to pick Jon Leuer out of a lineup.  This shouldn’t stand, though.  As Mike DeCourcy points out in his profile, Leuer is one of the most versatile big men in the entire country this year, and as difficult as it is to watch the Badgers on television, we certainly encourage you to do so.  At least once.  You might even enjoy it.
  5. We were hoping to find this yesterday, but today will have to do.  We mentioned that UNC legend Dean Smith made a visit to the Charlotte Bobcats’ training camp on Wednesday; he must have enjoyed it so much that he wanted to do it again because he made a return trip on Thursday.  Who knows — maybe LB and MJ will make him an honorary assistant coach of the Bobcats this season?  Good to see him out in the world doing the thing he loves most.

Two Coaching Legends Discussing Strategies (AP/C. Burton)

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