Big Ten M5: 10.29.14 Edition

Posted by Brendan Brody on October 29th, 2014

morning5_bigten

  1. Northwestern surprised many people last season with the transformation it made halfway through conference play, leading to road wins against Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Drew Crawford was the most important player on that team, so it should be shocking to no one that head coach Chris Collins is still trying to figure out how the Wildcats are going to replace him. Two likely candidates are JerShon Cobb and freshman Vic Law. Cobb topped 20 or more points four times as a junior, while Law is one of the most gifted players coming into the program in quite a while. Northwestern has more depth than last season, but whether the Wildcats can collectively replace one of the best players in the Big Ten is worth watching.
  2. Purdue received its first Class of 2016 pledge on Tuesday, as Indianapolis Tech point guard CJ Walker chose the Boilermakers over Butler and Cincinnati. Walker won a class 4A championship as a sophomore, where he shot 51 percent from the field and averaged 3.2 assists per game. Walker should join Bryson Scott and fellow Indianapolis native PJ Thompson at the point guard spot for the 2016-17 campaign.
  3. Illinois and head coach John Groce have gotten some highly-rated players from Chicago and elsewhere in the state of Illinois. Kendrick Nunn, Jaylon Tate and Malcom Hill are three that come to mind, for example, from his first recruiting class. But one former Illini great thinks that Groce has more work to do. Deon Thomas – the school’s all-time leading scorer and the state’s Mr. Basketball in 1989 from Chicago’s Simeon High School — says that talents like Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander would have stayed home and played for Illinois in the past. He cites AAU culture as a leading factor for Chicago kids choosing to play outside the state. Groce has made some nice headway with in-state kids, but it will take a top-15 type of player from Chicago staying close to home for many Illini fans to truly believe in his recruiting abilities.
  4. Ken Pomeroy released his preseason rankings to the masses on Sunday night and the Big Ten put 13 of its 14 teams among the top 80 in the country. One theme in the ratings is how balanced and equal teams #2 through #11 in the standings could be this season. As an example of how tight things are, Michigan State comes in at second in the league and 12th nationally while Purdue is 11th in the conference but 40th nationally. Iowa, Maryland, Nebraska, Minnesota and Illinois are all ranked between #32-#38 in the nation. The equality of the teams in the middle of the pack makes predicting the Big Ten race largely a guessing game, and the first set of Pomeroy numbers seem to show that, outside of Wisconsin, he feels that the rest of the league is wide open.
  5. Tis the season for lists and preseason superlatives, and the Big Ten was well represented in SBNation‘s list of the top 100 college basketball players. Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky (#8) and Michigan’s Caris LeVert (#9) both cracked the top 10 nationally, while Nebraska’s Terran Petteway (#15) and Michigan State’s Branden Dawson (#26) made it into the top 30. All told, 15 B1G players made the cut, which left the league tied for second among power conferences with the Big 12. The SEC had the most players on this list with 16, six of whom play for Kentucky alone. The post also listed 50 more players who just missed the cut, which included Penn State senior guard DJ Newbill and Wisconsin sophomore Nigel Hayes.
Share this story

Morning Five: 09.13.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 13th, 2010

  1. We can’t prove it statistically, but anecdotally it seems like every year at the start of the fall semester players just can’t help themselves from getting into all kinds of trouble.  Wake Forest’s Tony Woods is the latest knucklehead, as the 6’11, 250-lb. center was arrested late last week on charges of assault inflicting serious injury, assault on a female and assault with a minor present (his 1-year old child).  According to the official statement from his girlfriend/victim, he allegedly pushed and kicked her on Labor Day, resulting in a fractured spine and a probable loss of his freedom if these claims are substantiated.  Woods was once a highly-regarded (top 25) recruit of whom great things were expected, but he’s been relatively slow on the uptake, averaging only 5/3 in thirteen minutes per game last (sophomore) season.  If these allegations are true, he’s slow in more ways than one, and we hope he doesn’t see a junior or senior campaign at Wake or anywhere else.
  2. St. Mary’s is set to add a key transfer piece to its backcourt, as sources tell us that SMU transfer Paul McCoy is enrolled and already taking classes at the tiny school in Moraga, California.  The 5’11 guard from Portland was an all-CUSA freshman two seasons ago, averaging 13/4/3 APG as a full-time starter, but tore his ACL in February last season and missed the remainder of his sophomore year.  McCoy will be eligible to play in 2011-12, conveniently exactly when SMC will need a seasoned point guard to take over for the departing starter, Mickey McConnell.
  3. According to Commissioner Larry Scott, the Pac-10 does not expect Colorado to join Utah in its new twelve-team configuration for the 2011-12 academic year due to financial considerations.  He gave the possibility a less than 50/50 chance, but said that if the league has eleven teams next year, they will retain the name Pac-10 until the twelfth team, CU, shows up in 2012-13.  One other interesting note from this article: much like the Big Ten, the league does not anticipate a split into two divisions in sports other than football.
  4. As we wrote about on Friday night when the news hit, Tennessee announced self-imposed sanctions on its basketball program, including specific restrictions on Bruce Pearl and his top assistants leaving campus to recruit and sizable givebacks (~$2M) from their salaries.  The issue, of course, wasn’t as much the illegality of numerous phone calls to recruits as much as the fact that Pearl  lied to NCAA investigators about something during the investigation.  As Michael Rosenberg discusses in his article, that’s a serious transgression that could have gotten many less successful coaches fired.  Pearl appears that he will survive, and two players in his 2011 recruiting class — Chris Jones and Kevin Ware — have already re-affirmed their commitments. This is understandable given they’re already sold on the program; the concern for UT fans will be what impact having Pearl out-of-sight/out-of-mind on the recruiting trail during the next year might bring.  And then there’s the question of whether these sanctions could satisfy the NCAA — according to Gary Parrish, it could actually get worse.
  5. For what it’s worth, at least one head coach (and undoubtedly many others) has no sympathy for Pearl’s current plight, especially given that he dropped dime on Illinois twenty years ago over the recruitment of hotshot high schooler Deon Thomas.  In the late 1980s, recently retired Illinois-Chicago head coach Jimmy Collins was an assistant for Lou Henson’s Illini, and it was he who bore the brunt of Pearl’s allegations with the NCAA.  Even though Collins was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing, he remained stigmatized by the incident, and he felt that Pearl’s holier-than-thou attitude was irresponsible and baseless.  We’re certain that Collins watched Pearl’s mea culpa (below) with a certain amount of satisfaction.

<a href="http://msn.foxsports.com/video?vid=e71e3e3c-fce5-40e8-985a-ea8c8be4ec01" target="_new" title="">Fire alarm doesn&#8217;t faze Pearl</a>

Share this story

Tennessee Hits Bruce Pearl Where It Hurts (His Wallet)

Posted by nvr1983 on September 10th, 2010

While most of the college basketball world has been focused on the ongoing Enes Kanter saga at Kentucky, the  first real punishment of off-season was handed out today to the Wildcats’ SEC rival in Knoxville where the Tennessee administration determined that Bruce Pearl lied to NCAA investigators about excessive recruiting calls made by the Volunteer coaching staff. According to Pearl’s statement, he lied to NCAA investigators during a meeting they had in June about those phone calls (like Kelvin Sampson at Indiana), but due to overwhelming remorse he came to the Tennessee administration with the truth the following month. Upon hearing these revelations the Tennessee administration decided to take preemptive action, as many programs have, in an attempt to lessen NCAA penalties against them. Along with the usual punishments like decreasing the number of official visits recruits can make and limiting recruiting by the staff, they also took the unusual measures of banning Pearl from recruiting off-campus for a year (from September 24, 2010 through September 23, 2011) and essentially taking back $1.5 million of his salary over the next five years, as well as reducing the salary of three assistant coaches by 25% and banning them from recruiting off-campus for anywhere from three months to one year (official document with penalties here).

Bruce just realized that he lost a lot of money

While this doesn’t mean that the NCAA won’t take additional action against Tennessee, the move is somewhat refreshing in that a major university has finally gone after a coach’s salary for his egregious errors instead of nebulous concepts like rescinding 1-2 recruiting visits per year, although Pearl won’t be on a street corner begging for money any time soon, as he is still scheduled to collect $1.4 million from coaching in 2011 (plus whatever else he gets from endorsements and speaking engagements). The bigger problem for Tennessee’s program will be the off-campus recruiting ban which should have a marked effect, assuming he doesn’t start racking up the cell phone minutes again (the thing that got him into this mess in the first place). Fans of rival programs are understandably giddy at this news, particularly with Pearl’s reputation as a “snitch,” having turned in Illinois for allegedly paying recruit Deon Thomas (full memos here) while Pearl was an assistant at Iowa. Although the Illini were never found guilty of any wrongdoing related to Thomas, the ensuing investigation led NCAA officials to unearth several other violations that led to recruiting restrictions and a one year postseason ban for the Illini. Since that time, Pearl has carried the negative stigma as a “snitch” around with him and many believe it is what prevented him from getting a prominent job for such a long time. As you can imagine, many fan bases will be more than happy to remind Pearl of his wrongdoing and his penalties when the Volunteers are on the road this season.

Share this story