ACC M5: UNC Fraud Edition

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on October 23rd, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: At a widely-viewed press conference yesterday in Chapel Hill, independent investigator Kenneth Wainstein publicly revealed his findings concerning the academic fraud that we now know began as far back as 1993 at North Carolina. His detailed 131-page report confirms much of what the Raleigh newspaper has already been uncovering since 2011. In this piece, Luke DeCock captures the significance of yesterday’s revelations in Chapel Hill, including the fact that the school’s administration finally admitted what was suspected all along – UNC academic advisors steered athletes to phony classes in order to keep them eligible to compete in football and basketball.
  2. CBSSports: Officially, head coach Roy Williams was not implicated in any of the wrongdoing. But according to CBSSports.com‘s Gary Parrish, that doesn’t mean Williams is innocent in the matter. Basically, Parrish makes a reasonable case that if Williams wanted to know the truth about the phony coursework, he easily could have. After all, the basketball program’s academic advisor at the time, Wayne Walden, was brought to Chapel Hill by Williams when he left Kansas in 2003. It seems reasonable to assume that the two had a close relationship, and that they would be comfortable talking with each other about the administrative intersections of athletics and academics. In Wainstein’s report, Walden admits that he knew that the classes in question were fake and that he sometimes steered players to them. So if Williams didn’t know what was going on, why did his basketball players stop taking those classes over the next several years?
  3. CNN: One of the new revelations that came out in the report is that the fraudulent classes started all the way back in 1993. Of course the head coach at UNC at that time was Dean Smith. In this article, CNN investigative reporters Sara Ganim and Devon Sayers point out that 54 basketball players enrolled in those phony classes during Smith’s tenure, which ended after the 1997 Final Four. This now necessarily raises questions about those last four years of the legendary Smith’s career, someone who has always maintained a spotless reputation in terms of the academic integrity of his program. Many observers have noted that Smith’s philosophy behind recruiting also seemed to change around that time, perhaps in response to the rise of archrival Duke’s back-to-back National Champions in the early 90s. Smith brought in the talented but brash 1993 class of Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Jeff McInnis, which is not to say that these were bad kids, but they certainly didn’t act like what we traditionally thought of as quiet, humble and gentlemanly Dean Smith/”Carolina Way” players. There’s also the fact that upon his retirement four years later, Smith said that he did not enjoy coaching anymore. Remember that this was coming from one of the great competitors of all-time in the sport, someone who was about to begin the 1997-98 season with a completely loaded team. Is it too much of a reach to tie those two things — his suspected change in recruiting philosophy and abrupt retirement several years later — to what we now know about the academic fraud going on at North Carolina? Perhaps the bigger question is whether any reporter will be bold enough to take on that legacy and try to get to the truth, while fighting the “how dare they” backlash that would certainly ensue given Smith’s current poor health.
  4. Raleigh News & Observer: Another surprise from the report was that the academic fraud extended to other teams in the UNC athletic department. Most of us have focused on the football players and men’s basketball program, but they weren’t the only Tar Heel athletes taking advantage of the fake classes. In another reaction article from the N&O, Jane Stancill describes how a current faculty member has admitted steering members of the women’s basketball team to the phony classes as well. It appears that there was a network within the academic advising community at UNC that spread the word about a way to help keep their athletes eligible and in the lineup.
  5. WRALSportsFan: Former UNC academic adviser Mary Willingham was interviewed for her reaction on the report’s findings, which mostly vindicate much of what she originally asserted. Known now as “Whistleblower” Willingham, she makes the larger point that the real problem is that colleges are failing to educate their athletes. While that may be true, I think it’s time to face the root cause of what is going on across the country at the big-time programs. The model we want to put forward as fans of college sports is so outdated that it’s ridiculous. We want to see the best athletes play on the field or on the court for our favorite schools, but we don’t want to know how they are able to get admitted to the school or what classes they take or what grades they get, so long as they perform. We only want to know those facts about the OTHER school. Then there’s the colleges themselves, which cling to the notion that their athletes should be able to perform in the classroom just like the rest of the student body. Being an elite athlete today is a full-time job when you add up all the time requirements, and do we really expect them — many of whom the school made an exception to admit in the first place — to carry full course loads and stay on course to graduate? It’s time for a new model that fits modern realities. We are not going to give up high-level college sports so let’s rid ourselves of the farce that is the “student-athlete.” They’re already treated differently so why not change the class requirements to give credit hours (six?) each semester for full-time participation in a sport? Maybe if they only had to take two classes per semester, we could actually expect them to take some meaningful classes and perform their own work. The alternative is to cut time spent on their sport and that would mean fewer practices, less travel, no late night games for TV, and so on, but we know that’s not going to happen. But something needs to give in order to reduce the overwhelming incentives to cut ethical corners. If it happened at North Carolina, it doesn’t mean it is happening at all the other schools, but it does mean that it can.

 

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Sentimental Value: On the Notion of an ACC Regular Season Crown

Posted by Christopher Kehoe on March 14th, 2014

Since many of the ACC’s founding members sprang from what was known as the ‘Southern Conference’ in 1953, the ACC adopted many of the SoCon’s mannerisms and bylaws. The Southern Conference traditionally anointed a champion via their postseason tournament and out of that came their postseason automatic bid. Ever since the ACC formalized the wording of a similarly fateful decision in 1961, the ACC regular season title has been all but a formality. The idea behind awarding a postseason victor in a short and somewhat chaotic multi-day tournament setting was to provide a free-for-all environment that was both entertaining and unpredictable. This ACC Tournament gave lower seeded teams who had a less successful regular season a chance at making The Big Dance. And back in the day and age where these rules were first enacted, only 15 teams were awarded chances at the NCAA Tournament, making a bid all that more valuable and cherished.

Is ACC Tournament success a strong indicator of NCAA Tournament success?

Is the ACC Tournament success a strong indicator of NCAA Tournament success? Florida State parlayed a win in the tournament in 2012 into a solid showing in the Big Dance.

In a format where games are played on top of each other with little or no rest or time to prepare, less superior teams would essentially be able to pull a win out regardless of their records. But while all the other major conferences today at least recognize officially the regular season champion, why has the ACC lagged behind is perplexing to say the least. The ACC finally began paying homage to the regular season winners in 1990, and retroactively recognized the winners from 1954-1989 in that same year. But why it took them so long, and why more conferences do not go along with the Ivy League method of a regular season champion is beyond me. ESPN‘s entrance into the foray and emphasis placed on Championship Week may have something to do with it, glamorizing the end of season postseason tournaments as bubble bursting madness.

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Morning Five: 03.06.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 6th, 2014

morning5

  1. When we saw a story on ESPN.com about Dean Smith we were tempted to overlook it particularly after the John Feinstein story that we linked to on Monday. We are glad that we did because Tommy Tomlinson’s article on Smith, his failing memory, and the people who stand by him is probably the best thing you will read all day. As we mentioned on Monday, we cannot remember anybody saying something negative about Smith on a personal level. If you were not aware of why that is, this article and the anecdotes within it should explain it.
  2. With Wichita State finishing the regular season undefeated, Matt Norlander decided it was time to compare this Wichita State team to the 2004 St. Joseph’s team, which was the last to go undefeated in the regular season. That 2004 team, which was led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, ended up losing a game in their conference tournament so Wichita State could make it a step further than them by the start of the NCAA Tournament. While it might be interesting to compare the two teams numerically they are very different teams. The Shockers certainly have their share of well-known players, but are overall a much more balanced team that that St. Joe’s team. In the end, the way that most people will remember this Wichita State team will be scripted in the next month.
  3. We already read Mike DeCourcy’s response to Mark Cuban and now Larry Brown, a man who has plenty of experience at both the college and professional level, has decided to respond to Cuban’s comments that the NBDL would be better for player development than the NCAA is. Brown, who is actually based in Dallas now as the head coach at SMU, strongly disagreed with Cuban and said that the coaching players get at the NCAA level is vastly superior to what they would get in the NBDL. We can certainly agree with that assessment at SMU under someone like Larry Brown although we would not be quite as sure about that at some other colleges.
  4. We are getting to the point in the season where people are starting to seriously look at end of season individual honors. Some awards like National Player of the Year are all, but locked up (the flight attendants on planes going to Omaha might want to start making space in the overhead bins). Most of the others are up in the air. With that in mind, Seth Davis took a look at the races for player/coach/freshman of the year in each of the major conferences. We tend to agree with Davis’ picks here, but we wouldn’t be surprised if there were some differences in the final decisions on some of these awards.
  5. Some of you may remember Russ Pennell from his brief stint as head coach at Arizona when he took them to the Sweet 16 in 2009. Since that time Pennell served as head coach at Grand Canyon State University (yes, the one that caused the uproar recently) and the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. Now, Pennell is returning to Central Arkansas, where he played in college, to become the team’s new head coach. If you seem surprised that the name of a Southland Conference team seems familiar is because you may have heard of them when Corliss Williamson was briefly the coach there. Or perhaps you may have heard of one of their former players–Scottie Pippen.
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ACC M5: 03.03.14 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on March 3rd, 2014

morning5_ACC

  1. Charlottesville Daily Progress: First things first, Virginia showed the world it was ready for the bright lights with a doubter-silencing beatdown of Syracuse to clinch the ACC regular season title (its first since Ralph Sampson). Sure, you can still bag on the unbalanced schedule and the ugly non-conference games all you want, but this Virginia team isn’t playing games. The Cavaliers were the first team this year to beat Syracuse in convincing fashion, the fans stormed the floor, and the nets were cut down. Tony Bennett compared the noise at the game to a Taylor Swift concert. With the win, three ACC teams have a shot for the final one seed (assuming one wins out).
  2. Backing the Pack: Virginia wasn’t the only team to reach emotional extremes this week. NC State also finds itself on new ground under Mark Gottfried. For the first time since he was hired, the NCAA Tournament is effectively off the table (barring a miraculous ACC Tournament run) after getting blitzed by Miami at home. This team had really over-performed most people’s (including my own) expectations, so the loss wasn’t that surprising. Though it was icing on the cake after the brutal loss to North Carolina earlier last week. Now Gottfried has to show that he can motivate a team with new goals.
  3. Orlando Sentinel: Leonard Hamilton relies heavily on a mercurial sophomore class. Four play over 20 minutes a game, and Michael Ojo gets significant time off the bench. Unsurprisingly, the season has been somewhat of a roller coaster, dismantling a very good Virginia Commonwealth team early in the year and losing to Miami at home three weeks ago. The Seminoles hold a decent position on the bubble. They still have work to do, but a home finish against a reeling Syracuse team might be just what the bracketologist ordered.
  4. Washington Post: John Feinstein touches on a great point. Last week was the first big ACC game (from a national perspective) not involving Duke and North Carolina in a very long time. The last time Duke or North Carolina didn’t finish at least second in the regular season was 2003 when Wake Forest finished first and Maryland was second. Also a good point from Brian Gregory on the side effects of expansion: “I feel like I started out trying to construct a building,” Gregory said. “Just when I got the foundation built, I found out that someone has already built three new penthouse units on top of me.”
  5. Washington Post: Keeping things with Feinstein to close things out. It was Dean Smith‘s 83rd birthday Friday, so it’s worth reading a couple of anecdotes about him.

EXTRA: Jim Boeheim and Mike Krzyzewski went on Dan LeBatard’s radio show together and gave an amusing interview — especially the first few minutes. Suffice to say five years ago, no one and I mean no one would have expected Coach K to do an interview like this one.

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Morning Five: 03.03.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 3rd, 2014

morning5

  1. The immediate fall-out from the aftermath of Thursday night’s New Mexico State-Utah Valley game appears to be over, but we are guessing the consequences of this and other similar incidents will be dealt with in the off-season. If you haven’t seen the incident, the footage of court rush and fans fighting with players is pretty jarring. New Mexico State’s K.C. Ross-Miller was suspended for two games and Renaldo Dixon was suspended for one game by the Western Athletic Conference. Dana O’Neil is one of the few to voice her support of the fans and places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the players involved. We are not sure which way the WAC or other conference will go on this, but it will certainly be a topic that will be hotly debated.
  2. We have seen a lot of strange things in March over the years, but this year’s SWAC Tournament has to be pretty high up there. As a result of the APR rules four SWAC teams are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, but after discussing the matter with the NCAA all ten  of the teams in the SWAC are still participating in the conference tournament. Prior to this teams that had been barred from the NCAA Tournament did not participate in their conference tournament, but the school presidents voted to include all ten teams most likely to help increase ticket sales (Alabama State President Gwendolyn Boyd is one of two to vote against it). Now the winner of the conference’s automatic bid will be the team that is eligible for the NCAA Tournament and makes it the furthest in the conference tournament. If there is a tie (such as if two ineligible teams make the finals and only the losing semifinalists are eligible) then the higher-seeded team will be given the automatic bid. If that team happens to be the conference tournament champion, nobody will notice. If not, we could have a very weird championship celebration.
  3. It probably goes without saying that March is our favorite time of year, but over the past few years the change from February to March has also left us with a feeling of sadness since February 28 is Dean Smith‘s birthday. Normally that would be a time for celebration, but with Smith’s dementia and deteriorating health it brings our annual story on Smith and his difficulties from John Feinstein. Although sports fans (and college sports fans in particular) can harbor some of the biggest grudges we cannot think of anybody speaking out against Smith on a personal level. Many prominent coaches have legacies of piling up wins on the court, but Smith’s legacy is one of the few that extends beyond it.
  4. With its win over Syracuse on Saturday, Virginia clinched the ACC regular-season championship. Except the ACC does not recognize a regular-season champion. The rationale behind that decision is complex, but Shane Ryan’s column on why the ACC does not formally recognize its regular season champion does an excellent job of explaining the history behind it. Essentially what it boils down to is the other schools in the conference standing up to North Carolina and Dean Smith, who wanted the NCAA bid awarded to the winner of the regular season. The article also includes a few amusing anecdotes about North Carolina’s fixation on hanging up banners that others don’t recognize including its ridiculous 1924 Helms banner.
  5. Whenever a lower-tier program hires a big-name coach such as what Florida Atlantic did with Mike Jarvis six years ago we often hear about how that coach is going to turn the program around. However, more often as is the case with Jarvis that typically doesn’t happen. After six seasons (five of which were losing seasons) at FAU, Jarvis announced that he will resign at the end of the season. Jarvis says that he is making the move to explore other opportunities, but sources close to the situation say that Jarvis was going to be fired and the school gave him the option to resign instead. With Jarvis turning 69 just after the season ends, we would expect this is the last head coaching stop for Jarvis. If it is, he will finish with a 422-312 record with nine NCAA appearances in 25 seasons at Boston University, George Washington, St. John’s, and FAU.
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ACC Noon 5: 12.30.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on December 30th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. CBS Sports: Terrific piece from Gregg Doyel on late Wake Forest coach Skip Prosser, leading up to the annual Xavier – Wake Forest game that is played in his honor. Doyel does a good job covering Prosser’s work off the court, but what will always stick with me is how fun his teams were on the court. They never played any real defense, but that only made them more exciting. Hopefully one day that roaring motorcycle won’t ring hollow off all the empty seats in the Joel because that’s the only tribute to Prosser that would feel fitting.
  2. Yahoo! Sports: If not for Jabari Parker, Tyler Ennis would be a lock for ACC Freshman of the Year. Ennis is in the top 15 of the national assist to turnover ratio statistic at 4.7 as well as steal percentage. On top of that, Ennis has shown he can step up and score when needed, dropping more than 20 points in games against Cal, St. John’s and Villanova. The key for ACC teams looking to unseat the Orange will be finding a way to disrupt what is currently the nation’s most efficient offense.
  3. The Diamondback: Seth Allen is back for Maryland and played an amazing 21 minutes in the Terrapins’ win over a pesky Tulsa team. Allen didn’t light up the assist charts, but he did dish three while only recording a single turnover. Allen’s return should help Mark Turgeon with some depth at point guard and take a little of the pressure off Roddy Peters’ shoulders. That said, Maryland will be at its best as Peters comes into his own; he’s a much better distributor than Allen or anyone else on the team. But it’s nice to have a more experienced player to help in certain situations.
  4. Bleacher Report: This Jason King article about Roy Williams made the rounds a lot over the holidays. Both Williams’ son and wife are actively pushing for him to retire. It’s also clear that this season has been tougher than usual on the head coach. However, the most interesting part of the article for me was the further emphasis on Williams’ disconnect with the North Carolina athletic administration. Great work by King catching up with former mentor Buddy Baldwin and friend Ted Seagroves to mine this information.
  5. Burlington Times-News: NC State lost a brutal game at home against Missouri over the weekend. The Wolfpack were up big at the half before letting the Tigers back in the game over the course of the second half. At the end of the day, Mark Gottfried’s team lost out on a chance to get a nice win against a Top 25 team. For more detailed (read: GIF-filled) information on this one, check out the Weather Moose’s recap.

EXTRA: Hendersonville Lightening does a good job rounding up some anecdotes about Dean Smith.

EXTRA EXTRA: The ACC planned to challenge the SEC’s football dominance. What went wrong?

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ACC M5: 11.29.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on November 29th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Washington Post: Huge news out of College Park this week, as Dalonte Hill has resigned from Maryland’s staff. That opened up a spot for Dustin Clark to be promoted and Juan Dixon to be hired as a special assistant (after he completes his degree). According to Dixon, he’s always wanted to be a college coach, so he’s been in Mark Turgeon’s ear about getting onto the staff during the past few months. If Dixon is half the coach as he was a college basketball player, this will be a great move. He should be an invaluable tool in recruiting local guys (although he can’t go on the road).
  2. Orlando Sentinel: Ian Miller is a big part of Florida State’s dramatic turnaround. Montay Brandon definitely deserves some credit, but Miller’s offensive prowess and experience make him a key cog in Leonard Hamilton’s machine. Last year Miller was injured and unable to practice, but he dropped 25 pounds and is back to being the exciting player people predicted he would be when he transferred. It’s clear from his comments that his injury caused Miller to rededicate himself to the game.
  3. Winston-Salem Journal: This Dan Collins interview with Devin Thomas seems especially prescient considering how closely Wake Forest played Kansas. However, Thomas needs to learn when to walk away, as shown by his two technical fouls over the course of two minutes. Watching the game it was unclear exactly why he got the techs, but he can’t put himself in that position to begin with. Still, after the Demon Deacons played Kansas competitively (even spotting them free throws from three technical fouls while missing boatloads of their own), it’s clear that Wake Forest’s record wasn’t just a fluke.
  4. CBS Sports: Jabari Parker is something else. Matt Norlander does a pretty good job putting his uniqueness into words with this ode after Duke’s win over Alabama. There’s still room for improvement (especially on defense), but Parker is a force rarely seen at the college level. He has range, a post game and an unbelievable array of moves all over the court. One concern for Duke has to be Rodney Hood’s no-show on Wednesday night. The Blue Devils need him to be a factor (and to stay out of foul trouble), but another amazing stat is that Parker has scored 20 in every game thus far.
  5. Raleigh News & Observer: The News & Observer ran a special section on Dean Smith in honor of his recent Presidential Medal of Freedom award. While you’re reading Andrew Carter’s article, don’t forget to check out the timeline of Smith’s career or his record. Smith’s mentored everyone from Eric Montross to Roy Williams to John Swofford.
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Morning Five: 11.21.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 21st, 2013

morning5

  1. After Friday’s recruiting coup, Duke fans have to be feeling pretty good about next season even if some of the flaws of this year’s team are starting to become apparent. Today the hopes for next season could be ratcheted up another level as Justice Winslow, a five-star small forward, makes his college announcement and based on what many recruiting analysts are saying Duke is expected to be his choice although he is also considering Arizona, Florida, Stanford, UCLA, and Texas A&M. Winslow is reportedly being recruited by Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, the two top-five recruits who committed to Duke last Friday and played with Winslow on the US National Team. If Winslow opts to head to Durham, the Blue Devils should have the #1 class wrapped up and most likely will be your preseason #1 next season.
  2. The fortunes of Duke Mondy and Dante Williams have taken quite a turn in the past week. During their trip to play at Cal last week the two players were accused of rape charges that were quickly dropped, but were suspended indefinitely from the team for their actions although they had already been cleared of the rape charges. Yesterday, Oakland announced that the two players were back on the team after a two-game suspension. We won’t get into the moral issues of the suspension and what they did since this is not really the place to discuss that, but we will note our amusement at the school’s internal review of the incident. What investigation could the school, which has no power out in California (the school is based in Michigan), have conducted in such a short period of time? We have no problem with them letting the two play again, but the idea of a legitimate internal review seems ridiculous.
  3. There is a tendency to overstate the historical importance of sports figures and we have seen it with plenty of individuals. One individual who we feel deserves all of the praise that he has received for his social work is North Carolina legend Dean Smith. Yesterday, Smith was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey were among the other individuals honored at the ceremony. The only other men’s basketball coach who has been bestowed the honor is John Wooden. The last few years have been difficulty for Smith and his family due to health-related issues so we hope that they were able to enjoy the day and the honor.
  4. On the other side of the spectrum for North Carolina is the ongoing case of P.J. Hairston. The North Carolina junior who was last seen recreating Grand Theft Auto in the Research Triangle has been left in eligibility limbo while the school looks into his case. Yesterday, after weeks of inactivity in the case (at least publicly), Haydn Patrick “Fats” Thomas, the man linked to the rental cars that Hairston was driving, pleaded guilty to charges of possession of a firearm by a felon, drug possession with intent to distribute, and possession of drug paraphernalia from a December 2012 arrest. Thomas will be sentenced to 36 months of supervised probation, receive a suspended sentence of 23 to 47 months in jail, and must complete 100 hours of community service in the next 12 months. This case appears to have nothing to do with Hairston, but the charges that Thomas pleaded guilty to will not help his cause with UNC administrators looking at his case although the team’s poor play so far this season might.
  5. We would have loved to have been in East Lansing to witness the scene at the local Taco Bells when Michigan State students showed up expecting free tacos, but were turned away as the school had decided not to continue its promotion with the company of giving away free tacos when the team scored 70 points or more. In a move that may have prevented chaos on the Michigan State campus Taco Bell has decided to reestablish the tradition although it will be company-sponsored and not school-sponsored. We suspect with the faster pace that the Spartans appear to be playing at this season Michigan State students will be claiming quite a few free tacos this winter.
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Dean Smith Honored With Presidential Medal of Freedom Today

Posted by Brad Jenkins (@bradjenk) on November 20th, 2013

Today, President Barack Obama will honor 16 individuals with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, including former North Carolina head basketball coach Dean Smith. Due to health reasons, Smith will not be attending the ceremony in Washington. He will instead be represented by his wife, Dr. Linnea Smith, his children, long-time coaching assistant Bill Guthridge, and current UNC coach Roy Williams. If anybody would be fine with not being there to receive such an individual honor, it would be Smith. As a basketball coach, he taught his teams to be unselfish on the court. As a private citizen, Smith was legendary for trying to avoid the limelight and always squirmed uncomfortably when others tried to publicly praise him. Selflessness is a core value to the Hall of Fame coach.

The living legend may have some memory problems, but the collective conscious of college basketball does not.

Dean Smith Joins Select Company With Presidential Award.

Dean Smith is mostly remembered for his great coaching record over 36 seasons at North Carolina. He took the Tar Heels to 11 Final Fours, winning two national titles, and when he retired in 1997, he held the men’s basketball all-time wins record of 879. In addition, almost all his players graduated and under Smith’s guidance the North Carolina program was never investigated or sanctioned for NCAA rules violations. All in all, it is arguable that Smith was as successful as any college basketball coach in the history of the game, considering the consistent excellence his teams achieved for such a long period of time and the universally-recognized classy way that he ran his program. Let’s not forget that he also coached the 1976 United States Olympic Team to the gold medal under intense domestic and international pressure after the controversial U.S. loss in the 1972 Munich Olympics. In those days, the United States was still sending college players to compete against foreign professionals. All that success over so many years made Dean Smith a popular leader in the sports world for the better part of three decades. But that isn’t why he is being honored by President Obama today.

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ACC M5: 11.20.13 Edition

Posted by mpatton on November 20th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. ACC Sports Journal: Great article here from ACC historian Barry Jacobs on Dean Smith. I had no idea Smith was a math major. He will be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom today, joining John Wooden and Pat Summitt as the only two college basketball coaches to receive the honor. It’s hard to overstate Smith’s influence on the ACC even today–and it’s impossible to overstate his importance at North Carolina. Jacobs does a great job synthesizing anecdotes to paint a picture of the man who now battles neurocognitive disease, a truly tragic fate for someone who was known for his quick mind. Roy Williams and Bill Gutheridge will join Smith’s family to receive the award on his behalf.
  2. Winston-Salem Journal: Pretty cool article from longtime Wake Forest beat writer Dan Collins (who has covered the Demon Deacons for more than two decades) on the recent death of Wake Forest super fan Tup Strickland. Tup’s husband Hugh attended a totally ridiculous 339 straight Wake Forest games–home and away. The Stricklands weren’t alumni (though many of their children and grandchildren are), they just fell in love with the hometown school.
  3. AP (via USA Today): Maryland‘s appeal to get the ACC lawsuit thrown out was struck down by a North Carolina judge yesterday. The ACC is suing Maryland for the $52 million exit fee (the ACC sued the Terrapins first, so the suit would be filed in a favorable court). The decision doesn’t mean Maryland will have to pony up just yet. It only means the Terrapins do not get the right to an appeal in a higher state court (though the court can grant that right). After this lawsuit we get to deal with Maryland’s countersuit. Bottom line: don’t expect to see a $52 million check coming out of College Park anytime soon.
  4. Washington Post: Speaking of the Terrapins, Mark Turgeon is thinking of starting freshman Roddy Peters at point guard after a strong performance in their loss to Oregon State. The decision would relieve Dez Wells of primary ball-handling responsibilities, allowing him to play his natural position. But that means Turgeon has to bench someone. The obvious choice is the struggling Nick Faust, though that substitution hurts Maryland’s perimeter defense a lot. It’s also possible that the Terrapins play smaller with transfer Evan Smotrycz off the bench. Then again, depending on the opponent small-ball could be an option (essentially playing two under-sized stretch fours) because Shaquille Cleare hasn’t exactly been lighting up the scoreboard.
  5. The Sporting News: I’m not sure whom Mike DeCourcy is writing this to. I’m also not sure why he’s talking about RPI at this point in the season. The ACC is the strongest basketball conference when you look at the programs at its top (especially when you think about adding Louisville). No one came into this year thinking it would be the strongest conference top to bottom right now. Even after Louisville comes, I’m not sure the top-heavy ACC is destined to be a RPI powerhouse unless rebuilding programs can continue gaining traction. Don’t get me wrong, the ACC has been mostly disappointing (even at the top), but the optimism from media day is still warranted.
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ACC M5: 10.25.13 Edition

Posted by Matt Patton on October 25th, 2013

morning5_ACC

  1. Clemson Athletic Department: Big news last week out of Clemson, as the Board of Trustees approved a rebuild of Littlejohn Coliseum. If you haven’t been to Littlejohn, it’s quite an experience. Very few arenas in the ACC get as loud (Cameron Indoor, maybe) as Littlejohn when it’s packed with Tiger fans. For the 2015-16 season, Clemson will play off campus while the stadium is getting rebuilt. Clemson wants “the most-connected on-campus facility in the nation” for basketball operations. Here’s to hoping they keep the awesome acoustics. More on this as the additional details are released.
  2. Charlotte Observer: ACC historian Barry Jacobs takes a look at the now tired “conference image” comparisons that have dominated discussion of Big East teams joining the ACC this year. Jacobs hits the nail on the head when he says that the leagues were judged based on postseason play, where North Carolina and Duke contrasted with the physical Pittsburgh and Louisville. And for a while, I think there was a different style of officiating. However, the tough physical game has now spread into the ACC with its new coaches (while one of its least physical teams — Boston College – hails from the Big East). The fact is, coaching style rather than conference affiliation dictates physicality.
  3. Hampton Roads Daily Press: The NCAA released its graduation rates for the last six years, and the results were mostly very strong and especially good for the ACC. Looking at all sports, the ACC had six of the top 10 schools nationally (though five schools tied for 10th). That’s incredible. The worst ACC rates for basketball were Georgia Tech (40%), Syracuse (45%), and Pittsburgh (54%).
  4. USA Today: Eric Prisbell confirmed what many had suspected and hoped about Duke‘s team this year: The Blue Devils are going to play fast. “100 miles per hour for 40 minutes,” according to senior point guard Tyler Thornton, while Rodney Hood noted that, “We are trying to be one of the fastest teams in the country.” With Duke’s athletes this season, that team could be very close to unguardable with the new emphasis on preventing defensive hand-checks and forearm shivers.
  5. WRAL: North Carolina players are looking for Joel James to be a breakout star this season. He only started playing organized basketball during his sophomore year of high school, so it’s no wonder that he struggled with fundamentals and the pace of the game last season. But if his veteran teammates are to be believed, he’s going to play a much more important role this year. That would be huge news for North Carolina, as James has the potential to be a beast down low eventually. James’ development also explains Roy Williams claims that the Tar Heels won’t be playing small ball this year even if they do play two point guards.

EXTRA: Next month Dean Smith will be among those awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It goes without saying that that’s a huge honor.

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Morning Five: 08.09.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 9th, 2013

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  1. After Jay Bilas’ crusade against the NCAA’s online store and its use of players names to sell memorabilia the NCAA announced yesterday that it would no longer sell merchandise affiliated with specific universities. To do so the NCAA will shut down the site temporarily while it scrubs any vestiges of its use of amateur athletes’ names for its own profit. Now the NCAA will supposedly only feature merchandise related to its championship events. We are assuming that this merchandise will be allowed to feature the logos or names of the teams competing for those championships or we suspect that those items will not sell either. Having said that we are glad to see that the NCAA is willing to adjust at least a little bit when its hypocrisy is pointed out.
  2. In a somewhat cryptic tweet John Calipari both welcomed Steve Alford to Twitter and alluded to the possibility of UCLA and Kentucky playing in the near future. Although UCLA has been down recently they remain the most decorated program in college basketball history. Despite their storied histories the two schools have only met ten times with the Wildcats holding a 6-4 edge . A match-up between the two schools would certainly draw the attention of college basketball fans particularly if Alford is able to keep California recruits in state and make the Bruins a competitive team.
  3. As numerous reports have documented the past few years have not been easy for Dean Smith as he is suffering from what appears to be dementia. This has been particularly troubling for those who know him as more than just a legendary college basketball coach, but also a civil rights advocate. So yesterday’s announcement that President Obama would be honoring Smith along with 15 others with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is “presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The date of the ceremony has not been announced yet, but we imagine it will be a star-studded event particularly with two of the other inductees being Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey.
  4. With football just around the corner we have been anxiously waiting for the release of college basketball schedules and for the most part we have just been receiving bits and pieces of schedules from various teams that mostly revolve around a few non-conference games that are part of previously arranged events. So the Big 12’s release of this year’s conference schedule is the first real significant release we have seen. We may eventually do a post on this, but really the entire schedule comes down to two dates: January 18 and March 1. Those two dates are when Kansas and Oklahoma State play each other. Everybody in the conference office and ESPN might pretend that is not true, but realistically those are the only two games that matter. A few other teams like Kansas State and Baylor might be intriguing, but we need to see those teams prove something before we can trust them (especially Baylor).
  5. We have expressed our issues with how liberally the NCAA hands out transfer waivers, but in the case of Mike Poole we have no objection to his waiver being approved. Poole, a senior guard who averaged 4.4 points and 3 rebounds per game last season, transferred from Rutgers to Iona this off-season and was granted a legislative relief waiver so he will be eligible to play immediately. Given the video evidence demonstrating Mike Rice’s abuse towards his players the NCAA did not really have any option, but to grant Poole a waiver. It will be interesting to see how a change of scenery will affect Poole who had a higher scoring average (6.5 points per game) as a sophomore. The announcement should only further strengthen the Gaels’ position as the MAAC favorite going into the season.
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