Morning Five: 07.18.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2013

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  1. On Wednesday ESPN finished its two-day unveiling of brackets for the 11 holiday season events that it more or less controls through its television rights, and the possibilities, as usual, are endless. For a comprehensive listing of those events along with the top storylines as they stand right now in the middle of July, here’s the thread. Be sure to remember that Jeff Goodman picked Boise State over Oregon State in the Diamond Head Classic so that you can mock him on Twitter in late December… but seriously, does anyone else find it more than a little odd that these brackets are released during the time of year when you couldn’t find more people who care less? Why not make this a part of the Midnight Madness/ESPN festivities in October — you know, when fans are actually paying attention to college basketball again. For what it’s worth, Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger and Andy Glockner at SI.com have pretty good rundowns of the events if ESPN.com’s marketing campaign isn’t to your liking. From our perspective, here’s what you need to know: North Carolina vs. Louisville (Hall of Fame Tip-off) and Arizona vs. Duke (Preseason NIT). Done.
  2. While we’re on the subject of ESPN, the post-MLB All-Star Game hole in the calendar provides us with our annual opportunity to over-dramatize the strange mixture of sports and celebrity at the ESPYs. College basketball was once again well-represented, with two major awards among the few nominees. Louisville’s Rick Pitino received the ESPY for top coach/manager of the year, while everybody’s favorite underdog, Florida Gulf Coast, won the ESPY for the best upset of the year (over Georgetown). The full list is here, but the only other college basketball nominee was Trey Burke for best male college athlete (won by Johnny Manziel). Still, we’re more than willing to take a smidgen of credit for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, given this year to former Sportscenter anchor and Dickie V/Midnight Madness sidekick, Robin Roberts.
  3. We mentioned Seth Davis’ piece on Michigan’s Mitch McGary in yesterday’s M5, and clearly university brass must have also read about his head coach John Beilein‘s prescience in keeping the burly freshman on the bench as a secret postseason weapon last year. Why do we say this? Because on Wednesday Michigan rewarded the 60-year old coach with a three-year extension that will bump his salary up to $2.45 million per year, ninth-highest in the nation. The sometimes-irascible but always competent Beilein has come a long way in his itinerant career, but with another top 10 squad pending in Ann Arbor and a growing NBA pipeline to entice recruits, we’re thinking that he not only deserves the raise, but is well worth it.
  4. The Pac-12 under Larry Scott’s leadership in the last few seasons has certainly been innovative in its approach to its branding and reach, and yesterday’s CBSSports.com report that the league recently sent a letter to the NCAA challenging the admission of Division II Grand Valley (AZ) State to play D-I basketball is certainly interesting. On one hand, why does the Pac-12 care about a low-budget for-profit school with some 40,000 to 45,000 online students? On the other, the business model and corresponding accountability for a school answering to public shareholders on financial matters is in fact a much different situation than that posed by a typical college or university (which are all non-profit entities in Division I). It’ll be interesting to see how the NCAA responds to this, and whether other leagues and/or universities get involved. Grand Valley has already begun transition to Division I, entering the WAC as a basketball school and becoming eligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2017-18.
  5. Some transfer/eligibility news from yesterday to finish off today’s M5. Former Kentucky problem child Ryan Harrow has received a transfer waiver from the NCAA to play at Georgia State next season. This move will allow him to remain near his ailing father, who suffered a stroke last year while Harrow was at Kentucky, averaging 10 PPG and shooting 29.6 percent from beyond the arc. By the same token, Minnesota’s Malik Smith, a senior guard who averaged 14/3 APG last season at FIU under Richard Pitino, also received a waiver to play immediately at his new school. The NCAA approved his waiver to follow his coach in part because FIU is not eligible for the 2014 NCAA Tournament (APR violations). This will be Smith’s fourth school in four seasons.
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Morning Five: 07.12.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 12th, 2012

  1. Last night featured the annual ESPYs in prime time, and although the host of the event, Rob Riggle, struggled through numerous cricket-chirping moments, we still managed to sit through it. College hoops had a number of good candidates as potential winners (as we handicapped last week), but the crowdsourcing style of the event ensured that few were were validated. The Unibrow was up for several awards, including Best Breakthrough Athlete (which went to Jeremy Lin), Best Male College Athlete (Robert Griffin III, which is reasonable even if we disagree), and Best Team (even Big Blue Nation couldn’t overcome the Miami Heat). Perhaps the two awards that bothered us most were Coach K’s snub in Best Record-Breaking Performance (sorry, but a single-season NFL passing record doesn’t trump 900+ wins over a career) and Best Upset (how do the LA Kings outdo Norfolk State, a MEAC team, downing a team in the conversation for a #1 seed? Ridiculous.). The one silver lining for our game was that Christian Watford’s game-winning three to lift Indiana over #1 Kentucky back in December was chosen as Best Play of the Year.  Oh well — that’s the nature of the event — fan voting. The women’s game, as an aside, cleaned up with Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt winning the Arthur Ashe Courage Award (well deserved) and Baylor’s Brittney Griner winning both Best Female Athlete and Best Female College Athlete of the Year.
  2. We know that Mike Krzyzewski may not have had a good enough year to win Best Record-Breaking Performance, but he’s more than good enough to lead Team USA into the 2012 Olympics in a matter of a few weeks from now. Interestingly enough, Team USA will scrimmage John Calipari’s Dominican Republic team tonight, but the real test for him and his charges is to come together as a team in the next few weeks so as to bring home another gold medal for USA Basketball. Dan Wolken writes that Coach K has had to take a different tack than he has at Duke in coaching the elite group of players he has on this team, and that, frankly, he’s a much more likable person in this setting than he is in Durham. It makes sense when you listen to Krzyzewski in any interview talk about his “kids” — his Blue Devils — but he also knows that the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul and the rest are grown men who don’t need to be publicly protected or coddled. He’s not been so successful over these many years by not having a keen sense of that very thing — this is yet another example.
  3. It’s been a week of coaching extensions, and Wednesday kept the rally going with the news that Quinnipiac’s Tom Moore recently received a one-year extension to his deal that will keep him under contract until 2016-17. In five seasons in Hamden, his teams have performed admirably well, going 93-65 with three invitations to postseason tournaments. At a NEC school, any postseason appearance is a cause for celebration, so even thought there haven’t been any NCAA bids in that period, a series of NIT/CIT/CBI isn’t too bad. Of course, if or when Jim Calhoun over in Storrs ever retires, the former Connecticut assistant Moore would already have his vehicle GPS set with the directions.
  4. The nation’s top recruit in the Class of 2013 has narrowed his list down to only 10 schools. Jabari Parker used Twitter (what else?) to announce his revised list on Wednesday night, and here are the lucky suitors (he says they’re in no particular order): UK, Stanford, Michigan State, Kansas, Florida, Duke, BYU, Georgetown, DePaul, UNC. The Chicago native certainly has an interesting mix at play here, and perhaps most notably Illinois is no longer on his list. Aside from four of the top six programs of all-time (sorry, Indiana and UCLA), Michigan State, Florida and Georgetown are unsurprising choices. Stanford is clearly the academic choice, BYU is the religious one, and DePaul is throwing a bone to the homeys. If he really is the best high school prospect since LeBron (or Greg Oden), the school that gets him will have a tremendous shot at the Final Four during his only season on campus.
  5. Finally, ESPN announced its 24 Hours of Hoops Marathon lineup on Wednesday, and although the Champions Classic games involving Michigan State-Kansas and Duke-Kentucky are the monsters, there are as always a number of other interesting matchups. WVU visiting Spokane to tip things off, followed by a Davidson trip to The Pit will be fun, but Harvard going to Amherst to take on UMass and a battle of blue-blooded mid-majors in Cincinnati are also well worth skipping out on work. Maybe there’s more coming in the next few months, but in past years there were multiple games broadcast in the evening hour slot, so hopefully ESPN will fill in the blanks a little more just in case one of those Champions Classic games isn’t worth the time.

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Morning Five: 07.14.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 14th, 2011

  1. How about a smidge of conference realignment in your summertime news feed?  The WAC is expected to add Texas-Arlington as its tenth school later this week, compensating for its recent loss of Boise State and its pending loss of Nevada.  Well, maybe compensating is a bit of an overstatement given the power of those two programs, especially the Broncos on the gridiron, but UTA has one thing that the schools located in Boise and Reno do not — an insanely deep and talented local recruiting pool.  The football and basketball talent in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area dwarfs the entire states of Idaho and Nevada in a given year, so the WAC is clearly hoping that Arlington is a sleeping giant for the next decade.  [ed. note: didn't mean to imply that UTA has a football program currently, because they don't; but that's clearly something the WAC and UTA are considering with this invitation]
  2. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee will have a new chairman, Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski.  He will not take over for current chairman, UConn AD Jeff Hathaway, until next summer, whereupon he’ll take control of the committee for the 2012-13 season.  As we’re all aware, the chairman’s biggest role is to step in front of the television cameras minutes after the release of the NCAA Tournament field and defend his committee’s selections.  Some have performed well in this role, while others, including last year’s chairman, Ohio State AD Gene Smith, failed miserably in clearly explaining the differences between teams chosen versus those who were left out.
  3. Yesterday we mentioned the LeBron James Skills Academy when referring to Darius Johnson-Odom’s team defeating the camp namesake’s team twice over the course of the week.  DJO wasn’t the only collegian to have made waves last week, though, as  Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier,  Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and many others were evaluated by NBADraft.net during the event.  Also of interest was some of the discussion involving high school superstars in the next two years of classes, particularly Jabari Parker, a rising junior who many believe is a future #1 overall pick in the mold of Carmelo Anthony.
  4. News that Michigan recruit Austin Hatch — the high schooler in the Class of 2013 who lost his father and stepmother in a plane crash on June 24 — is recovering from said accident is music to our ears.  According to a blog post by his extended family, Hatch is “healing with the loving care of medical experts!  Austin even has his blue “Kobe” shoes on (size 15) and looks ready to work.”  We’ll certainly forgive the Kobe footwear so long as he makes a full recovery, and that would without question be one of the best stories of this entire offseason.  Queue up the most inspiring player award for next year’s ESPYs.  Speaking of which…
  5. This is getting ridiculous.  One day after we noted that everybody’s favorite Mormon, Jimmer Fredette, had a horse named after him, the consensus 2010-11 NPOY walked out with an ESPY for the Best Male College Athlete of the year.  Connecticut’s Kemba Walker, Auburn’s Cam Newton, Miami (OH)’s Andy Miele (hockey), and Cornell’s Rob Pannell (lacrosse) were the other nominees.  Of course, we’re just teasing… we loved The Jimmer as much as anyone else throughout his prolific career.  The only other college basketball-related winner was in the Upset category, where the VCU Rams took home the ESPY for their unforgettable five-game run to the Final Four last season.
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Morning Five: 07.15.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 15th, 2010

  1. The annual ESPYs were held last night in Los Angeles, and there were a few college basketball-relevant winners in the mix.  The most notable was in the Best Upset category, with Northern Iowa’s elephant-sized win over top-ranked Kansas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.  Duke’s men’s athletic program was named the best collegiate sports program, undoubtedly in no small part due to the hoops Devils’ fourth national title in Indy, while the best Male College Athlete was Kentucky’s John Wall.
  2. A brilliant idea from our friends over at College Chalktalk.  To honor John Wooden’s lifetime of humanitarianism and excellence, CCT has had the UCLA coaching staff in addition to several other notable teachers (such as Rick Barnes, Roy Williams, Tom Izzo, and Tubby Smith) give their thoughts on a particular block of the Pyramid of Success.  Our favorite so far: Bobby Hurley’s piece on Alertness.
  3. Speaking of Wooden, the family of the exalted coach has decided to continue with the Wooden Classic in 2010, the seventeenth edition of the event.  Rebuilding UCLA will play Pac-10 pass-over BYU, while St. Mary’s and local Big West favorite Long Beach State will tip the other matchup.
  4. Jason Jeffries, the former assistant director of ticket operations at Kansas, has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with federal authorities to identify if any other principals were involved and what, if any, crimes may have occurred.  But the most interesting part of this story is that the federal judge assigned to his case  (Wesley E. Brown) got the job when all three Topeka federal judges recused themselves for no reason.  Even odder, Brown, at 103 years young, is the oldest sitting judge in the entire federal system.  During the hearing, he even made mention of “the Twitter,” a creation that was barely a year old when Brown hit triple digits.  Amazing stuff.
  5. In Robert Tuchman’s list of his favorite ten Sporting Events You Must See Live, there are two relating to college sports.  One is fairly obvious — Michigan vs. Ohio State football in the Big House; but the other one isn’t Duke-UNC in Cameron or even the Final Four.  It’s Kentucky’s Big Blue Madness event, taking place on the first Friday after October 15 every year.  Bold choice.
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Morning Five: 06.25.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2010

  1. Did you catch that NBA Draft last night?  We’ll have much more up about the 2010 version in a post later today, but for now we’ll just say that even though we know that college stars cannot always translate to the professional level, it still bothers us to see tremendous collegians like Scottie Reynolds, Omar Samhan, Jon Scheyer and many others left on the outside looking in.  Best of luck in wherever your careers take you, fellas; we really enjoyed watching you play.
  2. Why wait to start projecting for the 2011 NBA Draft, though?  DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony lists his top thirty prospects for next year’s draft and it has a particularly Duke and Carolina flavor in it.  And Georgia?  Yes, Georgia.
  3. Kansas is putting an end to a rough school year by hiring a new auditor to oversee its athletic department in light of the ticket-scalping scandal they endured earlier this year.  Probably a good idea.
  4. This is intriguing.  The NCAA is proposing to make a rule that high school players cannot be offered scholarships until the summer between their junior and senior years.  It’s not a bad thought.  Coaches could still get wink/nod/secret handshake agreements with players well before that time, but at least from a public standpoint, it would take away some of the insanity with the recruitment of players who are barely old enough to drive (or younger if you’re Billy Gillispie).
  5. ESPY nominees relating to college hoops:  1) Best game – Duke vs. Butler (odds: 35%); 2) Best Breakthrough Athlete – John Wall, Kentucky (odds: 40%); 3) Best Championship Performance – Anthony Johnson, Montana (odds: 5%); 4) Best Upset: Northern Iowa over Kansas (odds: 75%); 5) Best Coach/Manager: Coach K (odds: 15%); 6) Best Male College Athlete: Evan Turner (odds: 25%) & John Wall (odds: 40%).  Get over there and vote.
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