Morning Five: Groundhog Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 2nd, 2012

  1. Very sad news in the college basketball community came on Wednesday as former Missouri State, St. Louis, and UNLV head coach Charlie Spoonhour passed away from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis at the age of 72. You may recall that two years ago Spoonhour underwent a lung transplant at Duke University, with a nice assist from his friends in the coaching fraternity, Bob Huggins and Mike Krzyzewski. The “Spoon” is best known as a coach for building consistently good programs at MSU and SLU that regularly made the NCAA Tournament (eight trips and 373 wins at three schools), but his lasting legacy will be the wisecracking and affable personality that he regularly brought to bear in his press conferences and interviews. The Dagger compiled a greatest hits list of some of his better quips dating back to the ’80s, and we highly suggest you get over there to enjoy them all. RIP, Spoon, you will be missed.
  2. One of the notable aspects of the 2011-12 season is that the NPOY race has been slow to develop a clear favorite as it has at the same point of the season in other years. In just the last five seasons, for example, players such as Tyler Hansbrough, Evan Turner and Kevin Durant were well ahead of their counterparts in early February and stayed at the top of the list through March. This straw poll of NPOY candidates suggests that Kansas forward Thomas Robinson may be putting some distance between himself and the other top contenders — Creighton’s Doug McDermott, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, West Virginia’s Kevin Jones — so it’ll be interesting to see how KU’s February road games impact what appears to be the presumptive favorite with six weeks remaining in the season.
  3. It may have been National Signing Day in football on Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t significant news from the college basketball recruiting front as well. In fact, there was some huge news on Wednesday as Class of 2013 center Nerlens Noel from the Tilton School (NH) has decided to reclassify to his original high school Class of 2012, effectively making him eligible to play college basketball next season. The 6’10” shot-blocking extraordinaire is considered one of the top two or three prospects in either class, and his reclassification will open up a floodgate of additional interest given that there are only a handful of top prospects left on the board for next season. His list includes several Big East schools, including Georgetown, Syracuse, Connecticut and Providence, in addition to SEC powers Kentucky and Florida, along with North Carolina. It will be very interesting to watch this recruitment over the next few months.
  4. From a high school recruit to a collegiate one, former Arizona forward Sidiki Johnson has decided to transfer to Providence where he will be eligible to play in the second semester of the 2012-13 season. The former top 100 recruit in the Class of 2011 only played a grand total of seven minutes in Tucson this year, scoring a single point and grabbing three rebounds. The Harlem (NY) native clearly thinks he’ll fit in better in the Big East, and his inclusion to the Friars’ already-loaded 2012 haul of recruits (top 10 by all indications) will give Ed Cooley the talent he needs to compete in the deep conference.
  5. Expect an official announcement on this Thursday, but reported last night that Orange center Fab Melo has been reinstated and will be available to suit up for the team during Saturday’s game vs. St. John’s. During his two-week absence from the lineup as starting center, Syracuse went 2-1, losing its first game of the season at Notre Dame, but bouncing back to win at Cincinnati and at home against West Virginia (in a controversial call involving Melo’s backup, Baye Keita). We’re not sure Jim Boeheim’s team would have beaten the Irish on that night even with Melo in the lineup, but they’re clearly a better defensive team with him patrolling the lane and anchoring their zone. We’re glad to see that whatever academic issue he had has now been resolved.
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