Morning Five: 04.25.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 25th, 2014


  1. The NCAA released a memo yesterday from its Board of Directors proposing a new structure that would theoretically be “more nimble, streamlined and responsive to needs – particularly the needs of student-athletes” as well as allowing conferences greater maneuverability in addressing the needs of the student-athletes within the specific conferences. Voting on the proposal will take place in August. While that sounds great in theory it is unclear how much power the student-athletes would have in such a system and how the NCAA’s constituency will react to it (especially the non-power conference schools).
  2. The Marshall coaching search has been one of the more unique ones that we can remember. They spent over a month courting Los Angeles Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni to be their next coach. As ridiculous as it sounds on the surface (going from coaching in front of Jack Nicholson and all the Hollwood stars to being in Huntington) it was somewhat plausible since Mike played at Marshall and grew up a few hours away. Oh, and there is also the fact that he might not have much time left with LA. A day after news leaked that Mike was not taking the job, Marshall announced that it had landed D’antoni just that it was Mike’s brother, Dan D’Antoni. Outside of the of how strange it is to settle for the original candidates brother, Dan has not coached at the college level in 30 years and had been serving as an assistant to his brother. The only way this would make sense to us is if there was an understanding that Mike might take the job when he is fired in LA.
  3. Two juniors–Spencer Dinwiddie and Khem Birch–made somewhat surprising decisions to leave school a year early. Dinwiddie is projected to be a mid-second round pick after his stock was hurt following a season-ending ACL tear in January. He averaged 14.7 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game last season before his injury and his all-court game could translate well to the NBA, but coming off an injury his stock will be relatively low. Birch is probably more like a late second round pick and probably more likely to go undrafted. Birch played sporadically at Pittsburgh before transferring to UNLV, but showed some of the skills that made him a highly coveted player coming into college as he averaged 11.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 3.8 blocks per game last season while picking up Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year honors.
  4. Myles Turner, the #2 prospect in the class of 2014 and only uncommitted top prospect, will announce his decision on Wednesday at 4 PM on ESPNU. Turner has narrowed down his list to Duke, Kansas, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Southern Methodist, Texas, and Texas A&M. Yeah, that’s not really narrow. There were some rumors that Turner was leaning towards Kansas and had been waiting on a decision from Joel Embiid, but it over two weeks since Embiid declared for the NBA Draft and Turner has not committed yet so we would not read too much into that.
  5. We will end today with some new developments in two longstanding legal cases involving college basketball players. The more well-known case involves Dez Wells, who reached a settlement with Xavier after he was expelled from the school on what he calls a false rape allegation. We are not privy to all the details of what happened in the Wells case, but from what has been publicly released we would call the school’s handling of the case “questionable” at best. The other case, which probably still will have a few more turns to it involves former Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams, who was accused of sexually assaulting two women at an off-campus party in 2010. An Oklahoma court has overturned the conviction based in part because two jurors visited the crime scene and discussed the visit during deliberations. While this is good news for Williams, the District Attorney is still deciding on whether or not to retry the case so he may not be out of the woods yet.
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The Darrell Williams Assault Case: A Feel-Good Story Gone Wrong

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 19th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

The latest development in the Darrell Williams sexual assault case snuck under the national college hoops news radar Thursday afternoon, with word breaking that Williams filed a notice to appeal his recent sentence and conviction. In a long legal battle with numerous twists, turns and hot-button issues, including accusations of racial bias and prejudiced legislative procedures, Williams’ most recent defensive measure is only the tip of the iceberg. The story goes back to December 2010, when Williams, a member of the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team, was accused of fondling and making unsolicited sexual advances on two women at a house party. He was later convicted on two counts of rape and remained in jail until receiving a suspended sentence last week. The incident reportedly took place in the basement, but Williams claimed he has no recollection of any interactions in the specified room. He went on to question the merits of the allegations, and raised the possibility that he had been misidentified among several others at the party wearing OSU athletic apparel. The lack of physical evidence and the very real possibility of a false accusation invited skepticism and doubt over the validity of the women’s allegations. But the real rub surrounded the process by which Williams was identified. Immediately following the party, the women wrote an anonymous letter to various media outlets providing a brief description of the assault, but failed to specify an attacker. According to testimony, the women – one of whom already knew Williams from seeing him play – pointed Williams out three days after the alleged crime when Stillwater police showed them a photo of the entire OSU basketball team.

After receiving a suspended sentence, Williams remains in courtroom limbo as he prepares to file an appeal (Photo credit: US Presswire).

That pretty much wrapped things up. Williams was locked up on questionable testimony, with little in the way of actual hard evidence, and a tenuous if vague account of what actually happened. That was all the prosecution needed. The possibility remains that Williams will win his appeal and clear his name, but clinging to hopes that a typically rigid legal system will provide vindication is a foreboding proposition. Williams has maintained his innocence throughout the process, but barring a successful ruling on his requisition, he will have to register as a sex offender. A coalition of fans and media members have rallied around Williams’ cause, springing a Facebook group and donning “Free Darrell 25” (a reference to his number at OSU) t-shirts at Friday’s hearing. This would not be the first time the legal process committed an egregious misstep. False accusations — whether through error or vendetta — happen all the time, and there are plenty more that are never brought to light. It is difficult to say whether miscalculated courtroom procedure is at work here, or if Williams was simply caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. When you pack 80 people into a house party, with many large athletes crammed into the same suffocated space, parsing the truth from the specious – particularly if alcohol is involved, which is a reasonable assumption at collegiate social gatherings like this – is never easy.

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Big 12 M5: 10.15.12 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on October 15th, 2012

  1. It’s October so it must be time for… bracketology?’s Jerry Palm takes a swing at how the 68-team tournament will look on Selection Sunday 2013. Like in 2012, Palm has six Big 12 teams making the field. Take his opinion for what you will but this is the same guy who continued to keep Northwestern in his bracket even after it went out of style (and right on cue, the Wildcats are one of his “first four out”). As for the bracket itself, it looks pretty balanced among the power conferences and for non-AQ schools, the Atlantic 10 and Mountain West are projected to once again be the best basketball leagues for mid-majors. Something interesting of note is that the five teams from last year’s actual bracket that are the exact same seed in Palm’s 2013 projections (not counting #1 or #16 seeds): Missouri (#2), Notre Dame (#7), Kansas State (#8), Davidson (#13) and Ohio (#13). And there you have a useless fact. You’re welcome.
  2. Here is the latest on the trial of former Oklahoma State player Darrell Williams. On Friday, district judge Phillip Corley denied Williams a retrial on his two counts of rape by instrumentation and was sentenced to a one-year suspended sentence. Since Williams had already been in custody since July 2011, he was able to walk away a free man, with a catch: Williams must register in the state of Oklahoma as a Level 1 sex offender, which the state considers to be someone who probably won’t commit such a crime again. The defense believed they had enough evidence in Williams’ favor for a possible retrial. Now he, his family and friends are left with a bitter taste in their mouths as Williams adjusts back to society.
  3. Bob Huggins may not have been crazy about being ranked sixth in the preseason Big 12 coaches poll but methinks he’ll be feeling a lot better soon. West Virginia AD Oliver Luck revealed that the university was in the process of giving Huggy Bear a contract extension and raise. In 2008, WVU and Higgins signed an 11-year contract worth $27.5 million, with a $2.3 million salary slotted for 2012-13. Luck said the deal would be done by the end of the year. This makes all the sense in the world: He’s 59 years old, coaching at his alma mater, and winning. A lot. I’m glad the Mountaineers joined the league because now there’s room for a mini-rivalry to develop between the Mountaineers and the Kansas State Wildcats. It’s just good to have Huggins back in the league.
  4. ESPN made a change to its Big Monday announcing teamBob Knight, everyone’s favorite… something, is being replaced on Big 12 games by Fran Fraschilla paired with Brent Musburger. This move seems to be popular with everyone who cares about it, but I’ll miss Musburger-Knight for two reasons: 1) Any announcer who does a game with Knight other than Musburger seemed to be intimidated by his presence on broadcasts; and 2) Brent and Bob had kind of a Verne Lundquist-Bill Raftery thing going on. They’ve both seen tons of college hoops in their days and played well off of each other on the air. On the other hand, it’s good to have Fraschilla doing Big Monday games after being paired with Ron Franklin a few years ago.
  5. It’s no secret: Kansas is deep. And some of that depth will miss some time with an injuryZach Peters will be out for a month while he rests a rotator cuff injury. Surgery isn’t necessary in his case but he won’t be able to practice until the regular season gets underway. Again, this shouldn’t be that big of a deal considering the Jayhawks’ talent at the forward position but it’ll be crucial time missed for a freshman who may eventually become a big part of the team in the future.
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Morning Five: 10.15.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 15th, 2012

  1. Most of the college basketball world has been preoccupied with the reloading job that John Calipari manages to pull off every year, but the work that Dave Rice has been doing to stockpile talent at UNLV has gone largely unnoticed at the national level. The latest piece to the Rebels’ burgeoning bench is Jelan Kendrick, the former McDonald’s All-American who has already made brief stops at Memphis and Ole Miss. Kendrick will spend this season at a community college in Iowa before coming to UNLV for the 2013-14 season as a redshirt junior. Kendrick has obviously had more than his share of off-court problems, but talented 6’7″ perimeter players are hard to find and if Kendrick can keep his head on straight he could be a key piece in the Rebels making a deep NCAA Tournament run in future seasons.
  2. Trevor Mbakwe has managed to brush off several legal issues in his past including felony assault charges and violating a restraining order to become one of the feel-good stories of the upcoming season coming off a torn ACL. On Friday, Minnesota announced that Mbakwe added a DWI arrest over the summer to that resume. Mbakwe was arrested on July 1 at 2:30 AM with a blood alcohol level of 0.12 and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DWI on September 10. He received a sentence of 16 hours of community service and one year of probation. Interestingly, Tubby Smith cited Mbakwe’s likely career as a professional basketball player as a reason for allowing him to remain on the team (hello, double standard). While it appears as if Mbakwe dodged a bullet here he still has to attend a hearing in Miami on September 17 for violation of his probation where he could receive a harsher penalty. We are assuming that probation is for the violation of a restraining order, but at this point there are so many charges that we aren’t sure which arrest that probation is for.
  3. By now you are wondering why we haven’t talked about Midnight Madness. The reason is that we already made several posts and tweets about it over the past few days. However, there was one even that is still worth discussing — the stabbing at Syracuse. While most events went off without a hitch, for some reason the Syracuse event was reportedly filled with several fights, one of which resulted in a 25-year-old man getting stabbed. The man is reportedly in stable condition at a local hospital (and presumably has been discharged by now), but has refused to cooperate with police. Based on that we doubt that anybody will be arrested in this case, but it will certainly change the atmosphere or at least the security at events like this in the future, particularly at Syracuse.
  4. In one of the more controversial recent trials involving a college basketball player, former Oklahoma State player Darrell Williams received a one-year suspended sentence and avoided any additional jail time as he had already spent that much time incarcerated. Williams, who continues to insist that he is innocent, will have register as a Level 1 sex offender (the least dangerous level) for the next 15 years. Williams’ team insisted that the case was one of racial profiling and had asked for a new trial citing a number of racial factors at play (two Caucasian women accusing an African-American in front of a largely Caucasian jury–11 Caucasians and 1 Asian-American), but was denied. For their part, the prosecution appears to be slightly more pleased although they expressed their thoughts that Williams was merely trying to put himself above the law.
  5. On Friday, Steven Goria, one of the leaders of a gambling ring accused of fixing a San Diego game in February 2010, was sentenced to more than two years in prison after pleading guilty to a charge of sports bribery. The sentence is the longest that any of the 10 defendants have received so far. Goria reportedly made $120,000 off of a game that he allegedly paid the Toreros’ Brandon Johnson to influence. USD, a  team that was favored by 3.5 points over Loyola Marymount, lost the game 72-69 despite holding a lead late in the game. Goria and many of the other defendants have also been implicated in a marijuana distribution ring, which to our knowledge Johnson has not been involved in. All that appears to remain in the case is the trial of four more defendants (including Johnson) who have not yet reached plea agreements — that trial is set to begin on December 3. We expect that case will generate significantly more press from the sports media as it will involve a former college basketball player.
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Big 12 M5: 10.11.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 11th, 2012

  1. The Darrell Williams saga may not be over yet. A jury convicted the former Oklahoma State player of rape and sexual battery this summer, but he’ll have a hearing this Friday to determine whether he deserves a retrial. His defense team claims it has new evidence, and it filed a motion for a retrial back in August. Williams, who received testimony from head coach Travis Ford and was convicted in front of several of his teammates, maintained his innocence by claiming he may have been falsely identified by the victims at an OSU party. There’s no word on what the defense team’s new evidence is, but on Friday, we’ll find out if it’s enough for a new trial.
  2. Yesterday, we told you about Iowa State‘s new-look offense after the losses of Royce White and Scott Christopherson. Head coach Fred Hoiberg said his team would still jack up threes with the best of them, but there’s also the possibility this team could be faster and more uptempo than a year ago. As the article points out, it’ll be easier to run with a true point guard in Korie Lucious now on the roster. Utah transfer Will Clyburn is also feeling the pressure of living up to White: “Royce was a great player; he did a lot of different things on the court, so it’s not just one player that’s going to replace him,” he told the Des Moines Register.
  3. Missouri officially left the Big 12 more than three months ago, but the Tigers are still making news on the Big 12 front. Kansas coach Bill Self further expanded this week on why his team won’t schedule the Tigers, as if this subject hasn’t been beaten to death by media and writers (like ourselves, of course) already. Self said he might expect to see MU in the NCAA Tournament, since the “selection committee has a strange sense of humor.” That would presume, of course, that the Tigers make it past the first game of competition, but wouldn’t that be fun?
  4. Self also found out this week he’ll receive an award this April. It’s called the Legends of Coaching award, and it’s intended to honor coaches who exemplify the characteristics and qualities of former UCLA great John Wooden. This isn’t the first or last award Self will win, but it’s got to feel nice to somehow be associated with the Wizard of Westwood. He’ll also find himself associated with an impressive list of past winners, including Coach K, Tom Izzo, Pat Summit, Jim Calhoun and Jim Boeheim.
  5. Oklahoma has made history. The Sooners will become the only known team in Division I basketball to stream their practices live this fall. It may not be the most enthralling television to watch Lon Kruger instruct (or chew out) his team during a run-of-the-mill October practice, but it’s a heck of a lot better than not watching basketball at all. We went ahead and bookmarked that website, and we suggest you do the same, provided you’re a fan of Big 12 hoops or Oklahoma hoops specifically. It may be an interesting insight into how major college basketball programs run their practices.
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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.
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Big 12 Weekly Five: 08.23.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on August 23rd, 2012

  1. Uh oh. The only true point guard on Oklahoma State’s roster, Cezar Guerrero, announced this week of his intention to transfer closer to home. His mother is sick in Los Angeles, so the decision is perfectly reasonable. However, the point guard position continues to plague Travis Ford. He lost two point guards to transfer last winter, and Keiton Page — already playing out of position there a year ago — graduated. Although that article actually claims the coaching staff may have wanted to play Guerrero off the ball in 2012-13, he was the only player on the roster with true point guard skills. Freshman Marcus Smart will probably have the ball in his hands a lot, and Markel Brown might get a chance to run the point too. But they’re a lot more effective as scorers, and it would have been a whole lot easier for Guerrero to take the reins and facilitate the offense. Now that he’s gone, it’s also important for Ford to get JuCo point guard Kirby Gardner cleared. He’s entirely unknown at this point and his signing came out of nowhere, but he does seem like more of a natural point.
  2. Make that seven freshmen now for Bill Self. Less than a month after the NCAA cleared Milton Doyle to play for Kansas, the freshman decided to leave the school before ever playing a game, which cuts a dent in Self’s abnormally-sized 2012 recruiting class. Although Self and Doyle’s mother, Lisa Green, both spoke in vague terms about his departure, it appears as though Doyle wanted to earn more minutes and make more of a major impact right away instead of waiting his turn. Neither Self nor Green spoke ill of each other, though, so it’s now time for Doyle to find another school — it’ll be his third already after originally committing to Florida International before the firing of Isiah Thomas. From the Jayhawks’ standpoint, they’re already loaded, especially after learning of top-100 freshman guard Rio Adams’ eligibility for 2012-13 earlier this month.
  3. We’ve written at length about Cameron Clark on this microsite, odd considering he’s never even averaged double figures in scoring during his first two years at Oklahoma. But we’ve written about him because his potential is so obvious to the naked eye, and he’s the type of sleeping giant that could take the Sooners to the next level in Lon Kruger’s second year. Everything about Clark screams “big-time scorer.” He’s got the size and wing skills at 6’6”, and he’s simply the kind of guy that has the ability to get the ball in the bucket on any given night. That consistency has not yet materialized, which is why we’re often writing about Clark’s potential as opposed to his actual production. With Wyoming transfer Amath M’Baye joining the team this year and the return of every key scorer from a year ago, there’s still not a ton of pressure solely on Clark. Still, his growth as a junior could be a critical piece of Kruger’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
  4. Poor Kansas State. Scheduling conflicts forced the Wildcats to return home early from their trip to Brazil, meaning its now back to reality after a vacation in South America. First-year coach Bruce Weber still got an early look at his new team, even if it wasn’t all that encouraging. Kansas State finished 2-2 on the trip, including a loss in which the referees ejected Weber from the game. It’s hardly the time to freak out about a few exhibition losses, but it’s at least encouraging that point guard Angel Rodriguez led the team in scoring on the trip. He was one of Frank Martin’s favorites last season, and he’ll likely earn that same sort of praise from Weber as long as he continues to progress.
  5. The legal process may have ended in the Darrell Williams rape case this summer, but the questions still linger about the former Oklahoma State forward. A jury convicted Williams based on the testimony of two women who said he groped them at a party, and he’ll now face serious prison time for the offense. As Mary Mitchell points out, though, prosecutors had no physical evidence to show the jury, and the identification was also troublesome because several other players had the same OSU warmup suit on at the party. The Huffington Post also called out the jury for convicting Williams, claiming 80 percent of errors in sexual assault cases happen because of misidentification. And there’s another aspect to this, too: “So let’s summarize. Williams, an honors student with an unblemished record, was convicted by a jury with no black people on it of an interracial crime that lacked independent witnesses or physical evidence and was based on a notoriously flawed method for identifying suspects.”
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Big 12 Summer Update: Oklahoma State Cowboys

Posted by dnspewak on August 7th, 2012

In an effort to remind you that college basketball does in fact exist during the summer, Big 12 microsite writer Danny Spewak (@dspewak) will roll out three summer updates per week during the next month. The goal is to compile every bit of news and information from the summer months for each team and package it into neat, easy-to-read capsules for your convenience. The final team on the list — Oklahoma State.

2011-12 record: 15-18, 7-11 (7th place, Big 12)

While his peers in the coaching community were chasing recruits this summer and lounging by the pool, Travis Ford took the stand during a rape trial to testify on behalf of a former player. This wasn’t about basketball anymore. This was about the life of Darrell Williams, facing a prison sentence after two women at a party accused him of groping them in 2010. The soaring expectations in 2012-13, thanks to the arrival of freshman star Marcus Smart and the return of sophomore Le’Bryan Nash, would have to wait. Ford argued for Williams’ innocence on the stand, and several former teammates attended the trial. The defense argued that the two women may have misidentified Williams, but that didn’t convince a jury. It convicted the forward on two counts, sending him into an uncontrollable sob as police escorted him out. Williams was never a star, and he had not played since February 2011. Still, this is not your average legal situation. That kind of thing happens all the time — like this weekend, when police arrested Cowboys’ center Philip Jurick for marijuana possession. In those situations, programs discipline, suspend and move on. When a former player heads to prison on a rape conviction, though, it takes a little while to recover. So that’s where Travis Ford sits with this Oklahoma State program right now. After a traumatic whirlwind of a summer, he must now find a way to recover from the graduation of heart-and-soul guard Keiton Page and transform this collection of individually talented parts into a winning team. It’d be nice, too, if he could find a viable point guard.

For All The Criticism, It’s Easy To Forget Nash Won Freshman of the Year Honors in 2011-12

Summer Orientation: Everybody knows Marcus Smart. Just ask Billy Donovan and Mark Few about the OSU freshman, who wowed them at the U-18 Championships this summer. “He was our leader from the moment the players introduced themselves,” Few told CBS’ Gary Parrish. “He’s one of the best kids I’ve ever been around — and that includes all the Zags I’ve coached.” That single quote from Few sums up Marcus Smart at the most basic level. He may be a McDonald’s All-American with NBA talent, and he may be a scoring guard with ungodly physical gifts and slashing ability. That’s all great, but it’s not even what Smart is known for. He’s known as a leader. Clutch. A playmaker. The kind of guy who prides himself on his instincts, defensive prowess, smarts and basketball savvy rather than his point-per-game average. These are the qualities that have Travis Ford gushing about his freshman, to the point where he’s already anointing Smart as a team leader after he excelled in individual workouts this summer. Perhaps we’re reading too much into the star rankings and the spectacular performance at the U-18 games, and maybe all of this talk of early leadership and the “ultimate teammate” is overkill for a guy who hasn’t stepped on the court yet. The beauty of the situation for Smart and the Cowboys, though, is that he’s not necessarily counted on to carry this team. Le’Bryan Nash often had those expectations as a freshman a year ago, but his decision to return for his sophomore year means the two highly-touted talents can feed off each other.

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Big 12 Weekly Five: 07.26.2012 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on July 26th, 2012

  1. Rejoice! New Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said this week it’s unlikely the league will expand in the near future. Of course, in these testy times of the Realignment Apocalypse, words don’t mean a whole lot. For all we know, Notre Dame and Louisville have already signed contracts to join the league. These things change swiftly and without notice. But for now, we’ll take Bowlsby at his word. The Big 12 is a league with, uh, 10 teams, and it’s not changing any time soon. For basketball purposes, that at least preserves balanced scheduling and a true regular season champion, since every team will play home-and-homes with all other nine teams in the conference.
  2. Darrell Williams was never a household name during his short stint at Oklahoma State, but he is now after a jury convicted him of rape and sexual battery earlier this week. The conviction ends after more than a year of the legal process. Back in February 2011, head coach Travis Ford suspended Williams in light of allegations from two women that Williams had groped and violated them at a party (the incident in question happened in December 2010). The defense argued the two women could have misidentified Williams because there were several other players at the party wearing the same warmup gear, and it called the prosecution out for a lack of physical evidence. That didn’t convince the jury, though, and sentencing is now set for August. As the legal process dragged on, Williams seemed to become further and further detached from the Oklahoma State basketball program, but do not underestimate the effect of this conviction on the team. Consider this: Ford actually had to testify in this trial, and he testified in support of his former player. Several teammates were there when the jury read the verdict, too. This has to be a traumatizing outcome to some extent.
  3. In better news, Kansas learned freshman Milton Doyle will be eligible for the 2012-13 season. The 6’4” guard out of Chicago originally committed to play for native Chicagoan Isiah Thomas at Florida International, but Doyle opted for Bill Self’s program when Thomas was fired. According to ESPN, Thomas actually recommended Doyle to Self. Doyle was a bit under the radar as a recruit because he missed his entire junior year of high school with an injury, but he could eventually grow into a contributor given time. Thomas said Doyle’s so good, in fact, that he could have transformed FIU had he played there.
  4. Basketball season must be fairly close, because ESPN’s rolling out its Summer Shootaround series this month. On Tuesday, it unveiled a look at the Big 12 by breaking down each team’s best and worst-case scenario, ranking the top five storylines of the summer and previewing each team’s most important player. Wait a few months and we’ll do the exact same thing (in even more depth!), or follow our very own Summer Update series to keep up with the off-season nuggets. Still, ESPN provides an organized, this-is-what-you-need-to-know series of quick-hitters for you to get all caught up in the Big 12 Conference.
  5. As a part of that Big 12 coverage, Andy Katz spoke with Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg about his recruiting strategy and the state of his program. Hoiberg, who garnered a lot of attention after bringing in an unprecedented four Division I transfers a year ago, will once again welcome transfers Korie Lucious (Michigan State) and Will Clyburn (Utah) in their first seasons of eligibility. Unlike last year, though, Hoiberg will mix a few impressive freshmen with his veteran transfers. Hoiberg spoke highly of hyper-athletic forward Georges Niang, for example. But the most interesting comment came at the end of Katz’ article: “We had great chemistry together and it showed later in the year. That being said, we want freshmen in this program. We have an enthusiastic group and we’ve got great kids and players in this program for the next four years.” So there you have it. Fred Hoiberg’s a traditional recruiter who saw an opportunity to take transfers and went for it. Nothing wrong with that, we supposed. It worked, after all.
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Morning Five: 07.24.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 24th, 2012

  1. By now you have all heard about the unprecedented sanctions the NCAA levied against Penn State in the wake of the child sexual abuse scandal. We won’t bother linking to any of the dozens (ok, thousands) of columns about the sanctions, but we will point out that people generally fall into a few clear camps: (1) the actions at Penn State were so heinous that the NCAA had to reach into heretofore uncharted territories; (2) the actions at Penn State were heinous, but a body more well-equipped and well-versed in such manners should be the one doling out the penalties; (3) a mix where you were OKwith the fine but not the scholarship reductions; or (4) you are a graduate of Penn State and you think the whole thing has been overblown. We received a variety of responses on Twitter, but if you would like to express your thoughts here (or just need more than 140 characters to speak your mind) leave a message in the comment section.
  2. On the periphery of the Penn State fallout is the rest of the school including the athletic programs of which we are obviously most interested in the men’s basketball team. For his part, head coach Pat Chambers does not feel sorry for himself and might even view this as a way for the basketball program to help out a school that has long been carried by its football program. As Jeff Goodman points out, if Chambers or others at Penn State need someone to look toward as a sign that things can get better is the resurgence of the Baylor basketball program and Scott Drew. Hopefully when Penn State comes out of this scandal they can make some in-game coaching adjustments.
  3. Despite failing to make the NCAA Tournament for consecutive years Minnesota rewarded Tubby Smith with a three-year extension through the 2016-17 season. We haven’t heard too many negative things about Tubby (outside of Kentucky fans who are, well, Kentucky fans), but giving him three extra years without any significant recent performance seems a bit strange to us. Smith has one of his better teams coming back and this coming season would appear to be a great gauge of whether or not Smith can turn the Gophers into an elite program and not just a middling team that tends to fade late in the season.
  4. Former Oklahoma State basketball player Darrell Williams was found guilty on three of five counts of sexual battery and rape by instrumentation stemming from an incident that was alleged to have occurred in December 2010. Williams, who has been suspended from the team since February 2011, broke down as did many of the others in the audience. The jury recommended that Williams serve a year in prison for each count he was convicted on, but the actually sentencing will not happen until August 24. Neither Travis Ford, who testified as a character witness for Williams, nor the Oklahoma State athletic department, had issued a statement as of late last night.
  5. How about some good, or, at least decent, news? Former North Carolina guard Hubert Davis has made more of a name for himself as a guffawer than an analyst in the last several years, but how many people under 40 have ever heard of Henrik Rodl, or, egads, Shammond Williams? At least Davis inserted himself into an NBA controversy many years ago, but regardless of that, he’s now an assistant coach (with some name recognition) at UNC, and he’s already making a new name for himself. Recruting for UNC is a little bit like recruiting for Google in that it’s the misses that cause the most attention, but we’d expect that Davis’ work will be as equally as compelling as his studio time. At least let’s hope so.
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