Morning Five: 08.14.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 14th, 2014


  1. The big news of the past week for college basketball and college sports in general was the decision by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken to rule in favor of Ed O’Bannon (and 19 other plantiffs) in a 99-page decision. The ruling essentially means that players could be in line to get a share of the billions of dollars generated by college TV and video game deals. While we are still in the early stages of this case (and issue) it might be the most strong rejection of the NCAA’s amateur model we have seen yet. The ruling doesn’t necessarily mean that the players will be getting money any time soon, but instead removes restrictions on issues pertaining to a player’s likeness. The NCAA is obviously not thrilled about this decision and plans to appeal. Lester Munson has a pretty easy-to-read recap of the issues in what is a fairly complex case for those of us not in the legal field (or inclined to read 99 pages).
  2. Of course the next question is how much would a player be worth in the “free market”. There will be all kinds of numbers thrown around by people coming up with formulas to figure this kind of thing out. One figure that seems to have caught on a bit is that the average player is worth $212,080 based on calculations by Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post. We don’t claim to have PhDs in math, but the numbers seem a little suspect especially one that claims that the average player is worth nearly 40% as much as Dakari Johnson. The average player may have had a bigger impact on his team that Johnson does on Kentucky, but there is no way that the average program brings in anywhere close to the money that Kentucky does (or that the average team turns a $2.5 million profit).
  3. Speaking of big money, Maryland finally settled with the ACC for a sum of $31.4 million in order to exit the conference. The battle, which has been going on since November 2012, was one of many involving schools looking to exit conferences on the conference realignment carousel. The ACC had initially demanded full payment of a $52 million, which led Maryland to file a countersuit for over $150 million. With Maryland already an official member of the Big Ten for nearly one and a half months it seems fitting that at least one more of these suits was settled before Maryland actually competes in its new conference. Now if we can just get rid of any more conference realignment we might be onto something.
  4. By now you have probably seen the “most hated team state map” that has been floating around. We aren’t going to take the time to really pick apart this analysis (summary: a lot of states hate Duke–not as many as you might think–and then there are a bunch of regional rivalries). The one thing we would point out is that the map would have benefited a lot from increased fidelity because many of these areas of hatred are probably based around certain cities (like where rival schools are located). If you are looking for a little more nuanced breakdown of some of the results, check out Jeff Eisenberg’s analysis of the hate map.
  5. There were also a couple of significant pieces of transfer news this past week. Colorado State added Grambling transfer Antwan Scott, who led them in scoring with 15.7 points per game last season. The addition of Scott is even more significant because he is eligible to play immediately with a graduate student transfer waiver. The other news is still somewhat in limbo as Cody Doolin, who transferred from San Francisco after a falling out with the team, was able to get his senior year of eligibility back, but is still waiting on the NCAA to rule if he is eligible to play immediately for UNLV.
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Morning Five: 02.21.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 21st, 2014


  1. It has been relatively quiet in terms of news around the Ed O’Bannon case, but yesterday the plaintiffs picked up a significant victory as a federal judge gave the ok for the class action suit to go to federal court. It will still be a very long time before we get a verdict in the case, but this is a big step in that direction. Having said that with all of the legal maneuvering that the NCAA can do here they will probably try to stall this case as long as possible because it appears that the only thing that can stop this case from being decided by a verdict is if the two sides reach an agreement.
  2. Luke Winn’s Weekly Power Rankings are already probably one of the most challenging columns to write under normal circumstances (part of why we link it almost every week), but after Wednesday night’s craziness it was made even tougher. Luke still produced some interesting stats, but our favorite one this week might be his comparison of Big Ten Win-Loss records against efficiency margins. It is essentially a graphical version of John Gasway’s Tuesday Truths, but the direct comparison seems to make it much more illustrative of how records can sometimes be deceiving.
  3. It seemed inevitable that once Rick Pitino (ok, and Tom Izzo too) spoke out against his players using social media that John Calipari would come out defending social media. The fact that Calipari supports social media should not be a surprise since he uses it better than any other major coach. The best part of Calipari’s appearance on Mike and Mike outside of making fun of the hosts for their performance in the celebrity game during NBA All-Star weekend was him saying that Pitino and Izzo ” know nothing about social media.” Say what you will about Calipari, but he knows how to cater to his target audience. Pitino and Izzo can target the donors and administrators who might not be into social media. Calipari will just target the teenagers who will become NBA lottery picks in a few years.
  4. Tomorrow’s game between Duke and Syracuse may have lost some of its luster with both teams losing the game leading into their showdown, but don’t tell that to fans trying to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TiqIQ the upcoming Duke-Syracuse game will be the most expensive ticket this season with an average price of $2,125 on the secondary market. Now these figures are from before Duke’s loss at UNC so that number might have come down a little bit, but the biggest factor in what makes Duke games so expensive (outside of Duke usually being very good) is how small Cameron Indoor is.
  5. With March approaching most programs are focused on their on-court performance. For Southern their performance off the court and in the classroom might be more important than what they do on the court as they are hoping be able to avoid a postseason ban over its APR. If Southern, which leads the SWAC, is ineligible for the postseason it would mark the second consecutive season that the SWAC regular season champ was ineligible for postseason play. Interestingly, Southern was a beneficiary of the ban last season as they earned the SWAC’s automatic bid after Texas Southern was ineligible to compete in the postseason.
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Why the NCAA Could be Taking a Huge Risk in the Ed O’Bannon Suit

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 27th, 2013

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

It wasn’t so long ago that we discussed the possibility of former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon and his group of plaintiffs being granted class certification by U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken in their lawsuit against the NCAA, Electronic Arts and the Collegiate Licensing Company. Thursday’s news forced a revision of that statement. The lawsuit now counts one defendant: that four letter institution we love to hate, the NCAA. Hours after EA announced it would no longer manufacture its popular college football video game, the video game company and CLC announced a settlement of a wide swath of cases brought against them by former players. The settlements, according to reports, will result in between 200,000 and 300,000 players receiving compensation for the previous use of their likenesses. Current players could also be in line to receive compensation, though it is unclear whether accepting money would compromise their eligibility. It is believed EA’s decision to cancel its production of NCAA Football – and thus dissociate itself from its sticky and laughably contrived argument that player likenesses were not modeled after real-life human characteristics (even after SB Nation discovered the use of former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow’s name in virtual playbooks designed by EA for its NCAA Football ’10 game) – was a preemptive move to eliminate the possibility of “damages” against current student-athletes, whose likenesses would have been used in the game.

The settlements reached by EA and CLC makes the O'Bannon case a one-on-one legal battle with the NCAA (AP Photo).

The settlements reached by EA and CLC makes the O’Bannon case a one-on-one legal battle with the NCAA (AP Photo).

That leaves the NCAA – who according to a USA Today report Thursday, is beefing up its legal team with the intention of fighting its case all the way to the Supreme Court – as the lone defendant. If the NCAA is truly bent on embarking on a long, drawn-out, high-profile legal battle, it risks not only having to pay billions of dollars to current and former players. It won’t have any say in when it must make those payments. O’Bannon and his plaintiffs, in other words, could be entitled to massive sums over a compressed time period after the trial. That’s a risk the NCAA appears willing to take, given its reported hiring of powerful attorneys. But is that a wise strategy? Or should the NCAA take EA and CLC’s lead and try to negotiate a settlement? We probably won’t find out until Wilken decides whether to certify O’Bannon’s class – which, according to legal experts, is likely to be the case. What’s interesting about EA and CLC’s decision to settle is the implicit message it sends – that the class is likely to be certified, and that cutting their losses now and reaching a deal before making themselves liable to much, much larger payments in a class action suit was the most prudent move available. It almost seems as if EA and CLC saw the writing on the wall. Another interesting part of this settlement comes from Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, who suggests O’Bannon and his plaintiffs are “likely demanding information that would help them advance legal claims against the NCAA. A settlement with EA and CLC, in other words, makes one with the NCAA more likely.”

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College Basketball Players’ Non-participation in the O’Bannon Case Makes Sense

Posted by Chris Johnson on July 22nd, 2013

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

At a June class action hearing, federal judge Claudia Wilken instructed plaintiffs in the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit against the NCAA to amend their complaint to include one or multiple current student-athletes. The thinking was that by adding a current student-athlete, Wilken would be more inclined to grant class certification to include both former and current players. This is a crucial distinction. If Wilken certifies the class to include only former athletes, the prosecution’s case turns into a smaller and less-damaging suit about the uncompensated use of likenesses in video games. Including current-athletes would broaden the issue to an argument of whether student-athletes are entitled to a cut of the massive broadcast rights revenues generated by athletic conferences and their constituent member institutions. Last week, six current athletes added their names to the 16 former athletes arguing O’Bannon’s case, and all of them, curiously enough, were college football players. College basketball players were mysteriously absent.

The absence of college basketball players could hurt the plaintiffs' cause.

The absence of college basketball players could hurt the plaintiffs’ cause.

That was the first impression after hearing the names of the six student-athletes who, in standing up to the organization that governs (and disputably so) their athletic performance, volunteered to publicly voice their discontent with college sports’ status quo. If football players were willing to challenge the NCAA, why weren’t basketball players eager to make the same stand? Were there not enough players willing to risk denigration and public ridicule for the sake of fair compensation in collegiate athletics? Was the realization of near-term legal responsibility and distant financial reward too weak an incentive to incite participation? Was the fear – even after the NCAA’s written promise against it– of retribution so unnerving? According to Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, all of the above is probably the best explanation.

According to a source close to O’Bannon’s legal team, several college basketball players communicated interest in joining the suit. After some consideration, however, the players thought otherwise. Parents of those players, in particular, expressed concerns about the potential for retribution by the NCAA, specifically that negative information might surface that might impact the player’s draft status and corresponding rookie NBA contract.


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The Next Step Of The Ed O’Bannon NCAA Trial Is Upon Us

Posted by Chris Johnson on June 20th, 2013

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

The anatomic framework of college sports as we know it hangs in the balance Thursday, June 20, in the much-anticipated class-action hearing of the landmark Ed O’Bannon trial. Sports trials rarely come this big, or this potentially transformative, and by the time we’re all through here – we’ve still got a long ways to go, mind you – amateur athletics could bear zero resemblance, or very little, to the way it operates today. There is a lot on the line. Thursday’s courtroom meeting, wherein plaintiffs arguing on O’Bannon’s behalf will attempt to have their suit class-action certified by Judge Claudia Wilken, probably won’t render a conclusive verdict. The back-and-forth arguments will merely serve as pieces of evidence in the larger evolution of the case, and if one side’s platform is strong enough at Thursday’s gathering, Wilken could issue a ruling. But she probably won’t, which means we still have time to discuss the pawns involved, what’s at stake, the philosophical and legal implications at hand, and the likelihood college athletics could be completely made over sometime within the next few years.

Getting Wilken to rule in favor of class-certification would put O'Bannon and his plaintiffs in the driver's seat in this critical case (Getty).

Getting Wilken to rule in favor of class-certification would put O’Bannon and his plaintiffs in the driver’s seat in this critical case (Getty).

Before we get started, I’d be remiss if I didn’t throw out one probably unpopular but incredibly important fact: The NCAA isn’t about to vanish into thin air. Mark Emmert’s opaquely tangled amazon of rules and bylaws is here to stay for at least a couple more years. College sports needs a governing body, and the NCAA, for all its flaws, has fulfilled that basic function, with different degrees of success, throughout its existence. More important is whether the NCAA can continue to exist in the same way it always has. O’Bannon and his partners say nay. They believe athletes deserve a slice of the broadcast rights money shared between the NCAA and its members – the same money that pushed the turnstiles of conference realignment, blew the old Big East to smithereens and forced us all to reconsider the concept of athletic conferences in college sports. O’Bannon sees school and conference administrators and the NCAA getting fat off multi-million dollar TV contracts, the athletes whose competitions make those agreements possible in the first place receiving no financial compensation beyond room and board, the archaic notion of amateurism and its dubious historical origins – and he wants something to change. A lot of things, actually.

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Morning Five: 04.03.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 3rd, 2013


  1. It looks like the coaching carousel should be an opening in New Jersey pretty soon after video surfaced of Mike Rice berating players and throwing basketballs at them during several practices at Rutgers. By now pretty much every sports fan has seen it and the only question we have at this point is why Rice still has a job. When Rice was suspended for three games back in December for his behavior in practice we had no idea what could have led to that level of punishment as it appeared too harsh for something minor and too soft for something significant. It turns out the latter was true. Now we understand that emotions can sometimes get the better of us and make us do dumb things, but this was not an isolated incident as the videos show Rice acting this way on multiple occasions. At this point Rutgers has to fire Rice or should be shunned by every recruit in America not only in basketball, but instead in all sports as the lack of concern the administration has for the athletes, who are in no position to stand up for themselves, is appalling.
  2. Speaking of incompetence at the highest levels, USA Today has a pretty impressive takedown of Mark Emmert looking at his career of failing upwards. As the article points out, failure and scandal seem to follow Emmert, but like any good politician he manages to deftly avoid him. The fact that he has done so poorly at so many things may just reflect his incompetence, but the fact that he has done so and still manages to be critical of others for similar faults suggests a more manipulative, sinister side to Emmert than many would expect. If there was any question about Emmert’s ability to lead (and to push blame onto others), this article should answer those.
  3. If you are not a lawyer or have not been following the Ed O’Bannon case that closely, the primer that Andy Staples put together on the case and its potential implications is a great way to get up to speed. As some athletic directors have said this case could lead to a profound change in the business of college athletics including the way they are played. The case, which was initially thought of as little more than a legal curiosity, has come to strike fear in many in the NCAA and in athletic departments all over the country. If O’Bannon is successful in his case, it could change college athletics as we know it. As Staples points out the next big date in this case is June 20 and after that we should know a lot more about how this case may turn.
  4. As we mentioned earlier the Rutgers job should be opening up pretty soon, but there was some more news on the mid-major front (yes, we meant that) as Jimmy Patsos announced that he was leaving Loyola (MD) for Siena. Patsos, who helped turn around Loyola, apparently beat out a fairly competitive pool of candidates and will be introduced as the coach at a press conference tomorrow. At Siena, Patsos will be inheriting a once powerful mid-major that has fallen off rapidly with the departure of former coach Fran McCaffery. We aren’t sure if Patsos can get the program to the heights it saw under McCaffery, but he can certainly lift it above where it has been since McCaffery’s departure.
  5. When they decide to fix all the loopholes in transfer waiver policies one day they will use Trey Zeigler as an example of how they can go wrong. The one-time Central Michigan star transferred to Pittsburgh after last season and was granted a waiver–citing his father’s firing from Central Michigan–allowing him to play for Pittsburgh without having to sit out a year. It turns out that Pittsburgh didn’t fit him that well (and we are not just talking about his DUI in November) as Zeigler will seek to transfer again after less than a year at Pittsburgh. We are not sure what the specifics are behind Zeigler’s transfer are, but we suspect they are related to his drop in scoring from nearly 16 points per game in his first two years at Central Michigan to 4.4 points per game at Pittsburgh as he saw his minutes more than cut in half. We would guess that Zeigler is headed back to a mid-major where he can be the focal point of an offense and will be playing against lower caliber competition.
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Morning Five: 02.07.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 7th, 2013


  1. Most of the nation was focused on football recruits during National Signing Day yesterday, but Iowa State may have been the biggest loser yesterday in terms of its recruiting when the NCAA denied the school’s appeal to make Maurice Jones eligible for the 2013-14 season. Jones, who averaged 13 points, 3.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds, and 1.8 steals per game as a sophomore at USC before transferring to Iowa State, was not academically eligible to play when he left USC last September and apparently did not improve his grades enough in time for the NCAA to lift his ineligibility. The Cyclones had hoped to have Jones be eligible in time for the second half of next season, but with Jones having to sit out next season too we wonder if he will take a different route including going to a junior college and if Jones isn’t in Ames we would assume his recruitment would open up again.
  2. We have been talking about the Ed O’Bannon case for a few years on this site, but it seems like the mainstream media is just starting to get a sense of how big this case could be for (or actually against) the NCAA. The latest addition is Charles Pierce, who points out how big of a deal profit-sharing could be for student-athletes and the member institutions. We won’t try to argue that it would not be at the very least a very significant symbolic change we do wonder how the member institutions will try to fudge the numbers in an attempt to give the athletes as small an amount of money as possible. Perhaps all of this talk about major athletic departments struggling financially is just setting the stage for schools to say they cannot afford to pay student-athletes significant sums of money.
  3. One of the great things about Luke Winn’s weekly Power Ranking column is his versatility in pulling out interesting statistics to analyze and present the best teams in college basketball. While Winn has a few crutches like his reliable Aaron Craft Turnometer he usually presents a new statistic to analyze for each team each week. The stat that jumped out at us this week was Florida‘s (possible over-)reliance on three-point shooting. While such high volume three-point shooting makes a team extremely dangerous it also makes them vulnerable to early exits when they go cold from the field (live by the three…).
  4. For years Dick Vitale has talked about how he tried to recruit Magic Johnson to play for him while he was still a college coach at Detroit and if Magic had joined him he might still be coaching. Well Vitale is getting his wish (sort of) as Magic will be paired with Vitale (and Mike Tirico) on February 19 when Indiana plays at Michigan State. While Magic has served in virtually every role imaginable in basketball this game will be his first as a college basketball analyst. We just hope that both Magic and Vitale are able to control themselves to let the players (and not the announcers) become the focus for those of us watching at home.
  5. We are still trying to figure out what exactly happened with the Hamline incident that left one of the team’s players facing a second-degree assault charge and its coach suspended. Yesterday that coach, Nelson Whitmore, left the school in what has been described as a “mutual agreement”. All we know about the case is what reportedly happened between the victim and the Hamline basketball player. What we don’t know is what Whitmore did to merit such a severe sanction as the school said his actions did not violate any NCAA rules. Even though we are never happy to see somebody leave his or her job we are happy to see a school own a problem like this even if we wish this entire episode had never happened.
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Jeremy Lin’s Harvard Endorsement Deal Could Open A New Portal For NCAA Debate

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 8th, 2012

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

The growing cause for a dismantling of the NCAA’s ruling structure is reaching a breaking point. The Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, filed in 2009 in the hope of ending the NCAA’s practice of securing lucrative media rights and video game contracts without compensating student-athletes, is gaining steam in advance of the seminal legal showdown expected to go on trial in early 2014. The government is making headway, too, as just last week California signed into law a Student-Athlete Bill of Rights for the Golden State’s four Pac-12 schools. These are legitimate challenges that threaten to destabilize the NCAA’s authoritative grip on collegiate athletics, along with the ideological underpinnings that justify its amateurism model. As the clamors for change grow louder and the NCAA is increasingly shoved under the national spotlight and parsed for its standards of handling academic and impermissible benefits scandals at different institutions, the argument will continue to hit home with strong-willed onlookers – like O’Bannon and his class action lawsuit. For the NCAA, it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. Until a reasonable resolution is reached, and its administrative wherewithal is reconciled with the slew of legal and ideological challenges it currently faces, the NCAA will have to weather a steady dose of overwhelming public disapproval and fear the distinct possibility of new sources arising to debunk its legitimacy. That’s a mouthful of high-brow legal nuance, but there is no easy way to frame the legitimate threats posed by NCAA’s growing opposition.

Even after leaving the program, Lin’s collaborative deal could strike fear into NCAA enforcement (Photo credit: Michael Dwyer/AP Photo).

The legal and value-based screeds against NCAA policy we’ve seen to this point have risen outside the organization’s ruling constructs. The actors that constitute college athletics (institutions, student-athletes) have not presented a challenge to the amateurism-based restrictions from which its authority is derived. Other than scandals and rule breaks which occur under the noses of various programs’ officials, the challenges have come from the outside – from ex-players like O’Bannon or ruling bodies like California’s state government. It would take an exceptionally defiant program to completely do away with NCAA protocol and remove the legislative shackles limiting their student-athletes’ financial potential. But if such a program existed, the one rogue institution with the will to formally challenge the NCAA and embrace whatever punitive consequences came its way, it probably wouldn’t be Harvard. After all, we’re talking about the universal gold standard of academic integrity, the embodiment of the student-athlete paradigm the NCAA so thoroughly promotes and enforces. Known for its halls of scholarly achievement and its unofficial status as the ultimate sovereign of higher education, Harvard is not the type of program you’d expect to strike up and co-opt a lucrative advertising deal with one of its former athletes. Yet that far-fetched muse could become reality.

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Pac-12 Basketball Fantasy League Voting: Round One, Game Four

Posted by Connor Pelton on July 10th, 2012

Our final matchup of the first round pits the two seed, Adam Butler (Pachoops), up against seventh seeded Andrew Murawa. The winner of this one is off to the semifinals, where it will meet Connor Pelton’s team in the semifinals.  Below are the rosters, followed by some commentary from the respective owners:

Adam Butler

  • Head Coach – Ralph Miller, Oregon State
  • Guard – Damon Stoudamire, Arizona
  • Guard – Mike Bibby, Arizona
  • Guard – Michael Dickerson, Arizona
  • Guard – Salim Stoudamire, Arizona
  • Forward – Sean Elliott, Arizona
  • Forward – Ed O’Bannon, UCLA
  • Forward – Shareef Abdur-Rahim, California
  • Forward – Chris Mills, Arizona
  • Center – Todd MacCulloch, Washington
  • Center – Bison Dele, Arizona

Adam’s Take:

My team. Well they call it Point Guard U for a reason so I went ahead and gobbled up three of the great ones and one of the best off-guards they produced. Yes, I have an all Arizona backcourt and you can go ahead and call Team PacHoops a group of homers. Do it. And that backcourt is supplemented by three more Wildcats and a dallop of other insanely talented Pac-12 players. Know that Team PacHoops houses seven Pac-10 Player of the Year Awards; six NBA lottery picks, three NCAA titles; two Wooden Awards; and a HOFer.

Look at you, you’re impressed already and I haven’t even told you that Salim Stoudamire is practically at the end of my bench, or that Chris Mills is going to struggle to get minutes; or that the worst my starting forward could be is a ninth pick in an NBA Draft; or that our coach, Ralph Miller, is one of just 73 men to win more than 600 games on a college basketball bench.

Need more? Todd MacCulloch not only was twice named First Team All-Pac, but he’s also a pinball champion. That’s right, the big Canuck has long been a pinball wizard and last October he won his first tournament (the Pinball Expo in Chicago), earning his bad self $3,000. Sean Elliott – the two time Pac Player of the Year, Wooden Award winner, and the first golden child of Arizona – roundhouse kicked debilitating kidney disease right in the jaw and said, “Nah, bro. I’ma go ahead play again.” The first major athlete to return ever from a kidney transplant.

After all, this team wasn’t built on talent alone.

But there’s plenty of it. And so I’ll toss the rock to Mike Bibby or Damon Stoudamire – whoever coach Ralph feels is going to be better suited to start – and let them deliver it (or score) to the silky smooth likes of Michael Dickerson and Elliott or the power and grace of Mills, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Ed O’Bannon. Holding down the lane will be big Bison Dele right along with Todd the pinball maestro. All beautifully orchestrated by coach Ralph.

Vote for Team PacHoops because you know it’s the right team to vote for and it’s going to make you feel good to choose a winner.

A pinball champ.

(Note from Connor: To see Adam fully breakdown each position on his fantasy roster, click here for the guards, here for the forwards, here for the centers, and here for the head coach.)

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.08.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 8th, 2012

  1. Oregon’s loss at Colorado on Saturday night was not the type of game from which it is easy to bounce back. The last-second loss on a controversial foul call left the Ducks tied for fourth place in the conference with Arizona, an especially precarious position to be in, since the top four teams in the conference will earn an opening round bye in the Pac-12 Tournament in March. Still, Dana Altman knows that his team doesn’t have much time to feel sorry for itself with a big game against bitter rival and current conference leader Washington due up tomorrow night.
  2. Arizona’s defense was a big key to their sweep of the Bay Area schools last weekend with Kyle Fogg, Nick Johnson, and Josiah Turner providing stellar perimeter defense at every turn. But a new weapon for Sean Miller’s squad lays waiting for intrepid souls find their way into the paint against the Wildcats, as freshman forward Angelo Chol has seen a bump in his minutes in the wake of Kevin Parrom’s season-ending injury. Against Stanford and California this weekend, Chol played a total of 36 minutes (his highest total in consecutive games since Arizona’s first two games), blocked six shots, and provided a disincentive for opponents to challenge him inside. As a high-schooler in San Diego, Chol blocked 1,120 shots in his career (good for second all-time at that level), but has been unable at Arizona to earn significant minutes, and hasn’t been all that effective in his time, until this past weekend. If he can turn into a strong presence in the paint for the Wildcats, they’ll be much better off as a result.
  3. Another freshman who is starting to earn some more minutes for his team is Washington’s Shawn Kemp Jr. Kemp played 24 minutes over the weekend against the Los Angeles schools and scored ten points in and around the paint. The son of the former SuperSonic superstar has taken a circuitous route to Lorenzo Romar’s team, committing to both Alabama and Auburn in the past, but failing to get his grades together in order to play at either school. Now, two years later, Kemp is working hard on his game to earn playing time and may be a significant piece to the Husky puzzle in 2012-13.
  4. Following a home loss against Arizona on Saturday, Stanford has now lost four of its last five games, falling from first place to a tie for sixth with UCLA. But, as Jon Wilner notes, this is more or less par for the course for the Cardinal thus far in the Johnny Dawkins era. Last year Stanford lost four in a row after starting conference play 3-1. The year before it was a 4-3 start and another four-game slide,while in 2009 the Cardinal dropped eight of their last ten after starting 3-3 in the conference. While Dawkins’ job is likely safe for the time being, at some point this Stanford team needs to prove that progress is being made.
  5. The conference announced the 2012 inductees into the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor on Tuesday, and there are some great names on the list. One inductee from each member institution will be honored during the Pac-12 Tournament in March. Here’s the list: Richard Jefferson (Arizona), Kurt Nimphius (Arizona State), Lamond Murray (California), Burdette Haldorson (Colorado), Jim Barnett (Oregon), A.C. Green (Oregon State), George Selleck (Stanford), Ed O’Bannon (UCLA), Sam Barry (USC), Arnie Ferrin (Utah), George Irvine (Washington), and Steve Puidokas (Washington State). While there are some great names on that list that most college basketball fans are very familiar with (Jefferson, Murray, O’Bannon, Green, for starters), it is fun to go back through the brief bios on the Pac-12 site and read about guys you may not be all that familiar with. Just as a “for instance”, did you know that former USC head basketball coach Sam Barry helped the Trojans post 32 consecutive victories over UCLA and helped push for the elimination of the center jump after every made basket, as well as the implementation of the ten-second rule? Good stuff from the Pac-12, but my concern is that by inducting one player from every school every year (and this has been going on for many ten years already), it’s not going to be long before the Eugene Edgersons, George Zideks, and Isaac Fontaines of the world have to wind up in the Hall of Honor as well.
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