Buzz: Isiah Gets Top 20 Recruit at FIU

Posted by rtmsf on August 7th, 2009

Florida International sent shockwaves through the recruiting world today when the #16 ranked player in the Class of 2010, Dominique Ferguson, announced that he will attend Isiah Thomas’ fledgling program over the likes of Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Indiana and UCLA.  The Thomas name and charisma still carries weight among HS kids because this is the second major recruit that Isiah has landed in his first summer of recruiting – highly-rated center Chris Coleman is committed to the school for 2011 as well.  At this rate, our post in 2007 will prove more prescient that we could have ever imagined. 

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08.04.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on August 4th, 2009

News has slowed to a barely discernible trickle, but we here at RTC have a few things coming down the pike, so stay tuned…

  • Renardo Sidney Saga.  So… the NCAA gumshoes had their meeting with the Sidney family last week, if you haven’t heard, and they’re asking for tax returns.  Most everyone in basketball believes that the Sidney family is dirtier than Roberto Alomar’s toilet seat, but they are entitled to a reasonable right to privacy with respect to their bank records and such.  Of course, the Sidney family has lawyered up and their representative, Donald Jackson, has already burned his race card lifeline in efforts to resist the NCAA request.  (ed. note: if that’s his only strategy, the Sidneys may want to look into alternative representation)  The problem with this whole situation is that the Sidneys appear willing to turn this into a high-profile civil lawsuit and, according to Gary Parrish, the NCAA would like to avoid that particular boondoggle at all costs.  Apparently the NCAA doesn’t want to have to defend its practices of selective enforcement, and we don’t blame them in the least on that.  So how will this end?  Probably the only way the NCAA knows how to deal with these cases – slap a relatively minor suspension (8-10 games) on Sidney, thereby leaving him eligible at Mississippi St. for the meat of the regular season and the postseason in 2009-10.  MSU is happy, the Sidneys are happy, and the NCAA crawls back to its lair once again with its tail tucked squarely between its legs, waiting on the next Andrelei Dravovic to declare ineligible. 
  • D1 Athletic Revenue.  The Orlando Sentinel has been doing an analysis of college athletics and the recession, and they came up with an interesting list of all D1-A schools ranked by athletic revenue.  It’s no secret that football continues to drive revenue, as Kansas is the only basketball school in the top twelve of the list.  Still, of that same top twelve,  nine schools have shown a serious commitment to basketball and it’s probably no coincidence that the revenue derived from both major sports is putting them at the top of this list (Penn St., Auburn and Alabama need to get with it).  Our only problem with these lists is that they never break things down further by individual sports so we can actually see how much money, for example, the Florida basketball program generates! 
  • Maui Invitational Matchups.  In one of the weakest Maui Invitational brackets we’ve seen in years, the following matchups are scheduled for early Thanksgiving week in beautiful Lahaina, Hawaii.  
    • Chaminade vs. Maryland
    • Cincinnati vs. Vanderbilt
    • Colorado vs. Gonzaga
    • Arizona vs. Wisconsin 
  • We’ll take Maryland vs. Cincy in one semifinal and Gonzaga vs. Wisconsin in the other, with the Terps and Badgers meeting in the finals.  Although we think Maryland has better talent, we’ll go with UW to win its first Maui title in the mild upset on the islands.
  • Quick HitsFab Melo: going to SyracuseETSU: RIP, Seth CoyIsiah Thomas: on the recruiting trailTwo-and-Done: gaining tractionCoach K: firing up the Olympic trial poolGoodman: 10 things he learned in July.  Jordan Crawford: more than a dunk over Lebron.   Parrish: why July evaluation camps need to stayVegas Watchthis could be very interesting. 
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07.29.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 29th, 2009

Things were VERY quiet over the weekend, but as always, RTC brings you the hostess with the mostess…

  • Summer Hypocrisy Trail.  We spend a lot of time around here criticizing the NCAA, its administrators, coaches and enablers for their acute sense of self-serving righteousness mixed with hypocrisy as it relates to their various policies of doing business.  A couple of stories caught our eye to this effect over the past few days.  The first was Pete Thamel’s NYT piece exposing how summer camp organizers are charging exorbitant fees to coaches for the privilege of watching its players in the stands (along with a fancy-schmancy binder of player names and hometowns, whoop-de-damn-do).  Prices range from $175-$350, depending on the locale, but coaches are uniformly annoyed with such a major additional expense to their recruiting budgets.  Vandy’s Kevin Stallings has taken the lead on criticizing the practice (he refused to pay the fee at a Memphis camp, turning around and driving back home), but predictably, those coaches who get their bread buttered by virtue of cozy relationships with the camp organizers (K, Howland, Matta, etc.) will not speak out publicly about this trend.  And as Dana O’Neil showed in her article about a coach’s banquet in Las Vegas put on by camp organizers, there’s often very little accountability with respect to where all these fee dollars are flowing.  Organizers make claims about funding AAU trips, tournaments and “feeding their families,” but as we’ve seen with allegations involving Renardo Sidney and others, the paper trail on where money ends up is often ambiguous and fraught with obfuscation.  Of course, none of this should surprise you or us – the system is so completely dirty at the AAU level that we truly wonder if the NCAA will ever succeed in rooting it out.  The genie is already out of the bottle, and for every World Wide Wes out there, a hundred others are gunning to take his place.  Mike DeCourcy, for what it’s worth, thinks that the coaches should just STFU, and he’s probably right.  Still it doesn’t change the fact that, without regulation of these camps, nobody except the organizers really know what these dollars are being used for.  
  • Summer of Lawsuits.  An odd lawsuit has arisen over a clause in a head coach’s former contract that unequivocally states that he may not continue to recruit players he was recruiting at his old school if he leaves for a new school.  Matt Brady, the second-year head coach at James Madison and formerly at Marist, was sued by Marist for violating what many people suggest is an unenforceable clause that they’ve never seen employed elsewhere.  Creative contract negotiations or willful ignorance of the law?  Regardless, four players whom Brady was recruiting at Marist – Julius Wells, Devon Moore, Andrey Semenov and Trevon Flores – ended up at JMU instead last season, although only Wells had signed a national letter of intent (which Marist released him from).  Of course, the key issue that the NY state court will consider is whether there is an obligation on the part of the coach over third parties (the recruits); we can’t imagine that the long arm of any contract would suggest such a thing, but we’re not lawyers, we just play them on tv. 
  • UNC Title Tilt.  If you’re of the opinion that the 2005 NCAA Champion UNC squad would mop the floor with the 2009 NCAA Champion NCAA squad, as we are, then you’ll have an opportunity to see players from those two teams settle the debate at the UNC Pro Alumni Game on September 4 at the Dean Dome.  Nine players from the ’05 team – Raymond Felton, Sean May, Rashad McCants, Byron Sanders, Reyshawn Terry, Jackie Manuel, Quentin Thomas, Marvin Williams and Jawad Williams – are scheduled to appear, along with six players from last year’s champs – Tyler Hansbrough, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, Danny Green, Bobby Frasor and Michael Copeland.  The scrimmage will allow for ad hoc division of rosters, and we’d expect to see several possessions where the starting lineups for each team are on the floor facing off against each other.  For the record, if the two teams actually were to play at full strength, the frontline of May and M. Williams would dominate the Hansbrough/D. Thompson side, especially with the superior playmaker Felton (over Lawson) distributing the ball.  The 2005 Heels weren’t as dominant in the NCAAs as the 2009 version, in part due to a lack of experience, but the talent on that team was far better. 
  • Quick Hits2012 Olympic team: projecting a rosterBen Howland: on noticeBob Knight: teacher, leader, comedianKatz: stock watch for 2010 prospectsLebron Tape: what was it worthFlorida St.: fine, you pay our legal fees thenBig Monday: Big 12 ScheduleCanadian Elite Hoops: doing great, until thisFather/Son Recruiting: play for dad or UCLAIsiah: checking in on him at FIU.
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06.28.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on June 28th, 2009

Let’s get caught up after a glorious weekend…

  • Elliot Williams to Memphis.  Nothing surprising here, as we reported last week that Elliot Williams was leaving Duke to move closer to home to attend to his mother’s illness.  The only school that made reasonable sense was his hometown University of Memphis, and Gary Parrish reported yesterday that Williams will indeed become a Tiger.  If Williams can get the NCAA to approve his hardship waiver so that he can play next season, he should walk right into a starting position at the PG spot for Josh Pastner’s squad.  While we’re on the subject of Memphis getting new players, former Kentucky player (well, he never actually played) Matt Pilgrim is probably transferring to Memphis with the assistance of new UK coach John Calipari.  Pilgrim, a transfer from Hampton who sat out last season at UK, wasn’t part of the new regime’s plans.  Since he didn’t want to leave Lexington but was no longer welcome, Coach Cal is trying to facilitate a seamless transfer for him.
  • The NCAA Shell Game. Seth Davis wrote an article last week that illustrates just how one-sided the NCAA scholarship system can be.  When new coaches (e.g.,Isiah Thomas and John Calipari) get to their new schools, they often feel the need to run off players (such as Pilgrim, mentioned above) who don’t fit in their lofty plans for the program.  That’s all fine and well for replacing lesser players, but the whole house of cards gets exposed when a coach wants to keep a player who otherwise would like to transfer.  Meet Freddy Asprilla, a 6’10 Colombian center at FIU who had a great freshman year and wants to transfer to a major conference school, but whom isn’t being released by FIU simply because, well, they don’t have to.  There’s an adage about the deck getting stacked somewhere in here.
  • FIU Cheerleading.  We know it’s purely coincidental that FIU is enabling cost-cutting measures by cutting its cheerleaders during the same year that they hired Isiah Thomas to coach their men’s basketball team (Thomas isn’t taking a base salary this year).  Still, the rich irony of FIU wholly dismantling the cheerleading team within months of Thomas’ arrival on campus isn’t lost on anyone.  Sometimes the unintended consequences are more compelling than the intended ones.
  • NBA Draft DetritusGary Parrish: the NBA will find you wherever you play.  Luke Winn: behind the scenes at MSG, and raising legitimate questions as to Ty Lawson and DeJuan Blair’s draft positions.  Jeff Goodman: Brandon Jennings made the right choice to go to Europe.  More Parrish: like RTC, he also thinks Demar DeRozan is going to be a stud.
  • More Quick Hits.  Marquette’s Maurice Acker: done with basketballRenardo Sidney: stop delaying, NCAAJeremy Tyler: headed to Israel Brian Ellerbe: new assistant at GW.  BYU’s Dave Rose: now cancer-free and returning to coach this fall.   William & Mary: considering an asparagus mascotRoy Williams: Aw Shucks… the RW Story, on sale in November.  Antonio Anderson: those Ws are ours!
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04.15.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on April 15th, 2009

Happy Income Redistribution Day, everyone!

  • Who?  Depaul’s Dar Tucker (Mr. 0-18, with an agent) and Southern Miss’ Jeremy Wise (no agent) have decided to throw their hats in the early entry ring as well. 
  • More Greg Paulus.  Thought we were rid of this guy.  So…  he’s not good enough to play for Duke at QB, but he might be at Michigan?  Wow, Rich Rodriguez has a lot further to go than we thought. 
  • The Man Who Replaced Wooden.  Former UCLA and UAB coach Gene Bartow was recently diagnosed with stomach cancer, and will begin treatment immediately. 
  • Dolla Dolla Bills.  Mizzou’s Mike Anderson parlayed 31 wins and an Elite 8 appearance into seven more years on his contract at a minimum of $1.35M per. 
  • Isiah Will Work for Free (sorta).  FIU introduced Isiah Thomas as their new head coach today, and he will not take a salary of $200-300K this season (the Knicks are still paying him $12M for his final two years on his contract).  Jeff Goodman thinks there’s a reasonable chance it might work out for Isiah there, maybe he took some of those sleeping pills as well?  Mike Freeman has a slightly different take.
  • Let’s Get Wattaded.  Georgetown guard Omar Wattad will transfer out of the program, destination unknown. 
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Time to Bet Heavily Against FIU

Posted by nvr1983 on April 14th, 2009

According to Jeff Goodman at Fox Sports, Isiah Thomas has accepted an offer from Florida International University to become their head coach. We briefly discussed the situation yesterday, but now that it’s all but official it is probably a good time to review Isiah’s prior experience. As a basketball player, there is no question that he was an all-time great. As a basketball executive/coach? Not so much.

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Here is a quick recap of his prior stints in a managerial role:

  • Toronto Raptors (1994-1998): Serving as the GM and part-owner, he started by taking B.J. Armstrong with the #1 pick in the 1995 expansion draft. While Armstrong isn’t what you would consider #1 pick material, when you look at the other luminaries that were available it was probably a pretty good pick (at the very least he could show the young guys all the three championship rings Michael Jordan won for him that he won). Unfortunately, Armstrong refused to report to the team and was promptly traded. Even though the team was 67-179, Isiah did exhibit some draft acumen by taking Damon Stoudamire (turning the #7 pick into the Rookie of the Year), Marcus Camby (the #2 pick who might have won Rookie of the Year that year if it wasn’t for some guy named Allen Iverson), and Tracy McGrady (with #9 pick out of high school just 2 years after Isiah’s hilarious plan for Kevin Garnett). Sadly, this was probably the high point of Isiah’s managerial career.
  • NBC (1998): Briefly worked with Bob Costas and Doug Collins. Not particularly memorable, but it worked out better than his last appearance on NBC (see below).

  • CBA (1999-2000): Purchased the league for $10 million on October 7, 1999 and turned down an offer from the NBA to purchase it for $11 million and a percentage of the profits, which according to some sources would have been a $2 million profit (or a 20% ROI) in March 2000. Isiah then promptly proceeded to show everyone what a shrewd businessman he was for turning down the 20% ROI in 5 months by running the league into bankruptcy. [Ed. Note: The fact that the CBA Museum has a page for Isiah Thomas is amazing. Isn't that kind of like a Jewish charity museum starting an exhibit on Bernie Madoff?] Sadly, this was not the low point of Isiah’s managerial career.
  • Indiana Pacers (2000-2003): Took over a team that Larry Bird had coached to the Eastern Conference finals and decided to change directions with a youth movement by playing Jermaine O’Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, and Al Harrington more minutes. Even though he had a respectable 131-115 regular season record, his stint is largely considered a failure as his team’s lost in the first round in each of his 3 seasons as a coach. Heading into Isiah’s 4th year, Larry Bird came back as President of Basketball Operations. At his press conference, Bird assured the media that he would work with Isiah. He promptly fired Thomas and replaced him with Rick Carlisle. [Lesson: Don't mess with the Basketball Jesus.]
  • New York Knicks (2003-2008): I don’t know what can be said that hasn’t already been said. I’ll just refer you to Jeff Coplon’s article that says everything in its title “Absolutely, Positively the Worst Team in the History of Professional Sports”. Quick Cliff Notes style summary: Threw away two 1st round picks for Eddy Curry. Fired Larry Brown (his best move) and made himself coach (his worst move–on the court). Ordered his team to commit a hard foul against the Denver Nuggets resulting in a brawl. Despite having the highest paid team in the league and the pipe dream of landing LeBron James he continued to blow money/cap space on over-priced/under-performing players. “Reassigned” and forbidden to have any contact with the Knicks’ players. Charged in a sexual harassment lawsuit that led Madison Square Garden to pay $11.6 million to his accuser and offended multiple sponsors. Reportedly overdosed on Lunesta and was taken to the hospital, but afterwards tried to throw the entire thing on his 17 year-old daughter.

So, um yeah, good luck with that FIU.

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Isiah Thomas to FIU?

Posted by rtmsf on April 13th, 2009

If this were April 1st, we’d definitely be wondering about the veracity of this story, but both Jeff Goodman at Fox Sports and Andy Katz at ESPN are reporting that Mr. Congeniality, Isiah Thomas, may be close to accepting the head coaching job at Florida International University (apparently the school is located in Miami, which suddenly reveals a modicum of why to this story).  The former head coach, Sergio Rouco, was reassigned after a 55-94 record over five seasons. 

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You may remember Mr. Thomas (not to be confused with the mercurial rising star Isaiah Thomas from the Washington Huskies) from his days as a player at Indiana (national champs in ’81), or as a Detroit Piston (world champs in ’89 and ’90), or as a relatively successful Indiana Pacers coach, or his most recent disastrous stint as team president and coach for the New York Knicks.  If Thomas actually takes this coaching position, he’ll join other Sun Belt retreads John Brady (LSU to Arkansas St.) and Mike Jarvis (St. John’s to Florida Atlantic) as coaches with the uncanny ability to turn water to vomit in the blink of an eye.  Somewhere Stephen A. Smith, Bill Simmons and Will Leitch all began independently yet simultaneously typing in unison. 

The problem with Thomas in New York was his utter incompetence in the ability to successfully put a team together (well, that and the sexual assault thing).  He seemed to believe that having fifteen me-first guards on the roster was a healthy concoction, and the thought of him getting to craft and coach his own team of players in the combustible environment of Miami should break all kinds of blogosphere records throughout his tenure there. 

On its face, this job makes absolutely no sense unless Thomas is now importing packages through South Florida from Bolivia and he wants to keep a close eye on his product.  He has absolutely no college coaching experience whatsoever, and the truth is that he still could have gotten a bigger ‘name’ job had he heretofore shown any interest.  Additionally, why wouldn’t he wait for another NBA opening?  He may be damaged goods in many fans’ eyes, but that’s never stopped stupidity in the form an NBA GM before.  At least Thomas would still be in his comfort zone, though.  We can already envision Thomas trying to sell an unsuspecting mother of some 16-year old prodigy on the virtues of FIU Basketball, with his snakeskin shoes and 100-watt smile beaming across the room. 

Come to think of it, maybe this will make for a good fit after all. 

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Sun Belt Conference Tourney Wrapup

Posted by nvr1983 on March 13th, 2009

Toppers Return to The Dance
As we predicted last time around, Western Kentucky will represent the Sun Belt Conference in the Big dance this year. This was no surprise to avid Belt followers. However, what was a surprise was the opponent they faced in the finals – South Alabama.

South Alabama came into the tournament as the sixth seed, and slid into the finals after winning their first two games by a combined total of five points. One of their opponents was Troy, who’s magical run came to a close by just three points. Not that they didn’t have their fair share of chances to get the win themselves. Trojan guard Michael Vogler missed the front end of a one-and-one and then two 3-point tries in the final 17 seconds as Troy tried to tie the game.
Ironically, South Alabama’s last leg into the final game came with little difficulty when they knocked off  Arkansas Little-Rock, a team that also struggled to find its range, by ten points. The Trojans had no answer for the loss of Moore, their top scorer, and it showed, as they went 16-61 from the floor on the night. However, South Alabama would not be so fortunate against WKU in the finals.

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Sun Belt Wrapup & Tourney Preview

Posted by rtmsf on March 4th, 2009

Rick Henderson of The Owl’s Nest is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference.

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Final Results Are In

A couple things were expected.  And a lot was not.  WKU sitting out the first round is no shocker.  UALR atop the West was expected as well.  But MTSU was expected to do a lot better.  Additionally,  who would have “thunk” that head coaches Mike Jarvis and John Brady would finish at the bottom of their respective divisions and as 12th and 13th seeds?  Wow.  Lastly, how does Troy, a team that actually was picked to finish in the basement, obtain a first round bye and sit all alone in second in the East?  Weird wild stuff!  And, of course, why we all love the sport of basketball.  Anything can happen on any given night.  And especially over the course of a season.  Troy has a decent shot at making it to the finals given they can get past UALR.  But WKU will prove a tall order.  The Trojans lost both regular season games to the Toppers.

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Checking in on the… Sun Belt

Posted by rtmsf on February 26th, 2009

 

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It’s Down to the Wire

Inching closer to Tournament Time!  All but two teams have just two games remaining on their SBC schedule which will conclude tonight and this weekend.  Thankfully, the West has experienced some much needed separation except for the bottom of the pack who will be in a dog fight to avoid a first round road game.  In the East, the Toppers, having won against Troy in last weeks game of the week, are now seriously poised to nab the number one overall seed and possibly the whole enchilada given the next story.  Which is…

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Checking in on the… Sun Belt

Posted by rtmsf on January 30th, 2009

Rick Henderson of The Owl’s Nest is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference.

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Rohnert Seals Two Quality Wins  for the Pioneers

Denver’s recent streak of bad luck in close games came to an end last weekend against East with a 78-74 win at home over Western Kentucky.  The Hilltoppers pulled within two points in the final minute last Saturday, but Denver’s Brian Stafford connected on a bounce pass to cutting teammate Nate Rohnert for a backdoor layup. This put the Pioneers up by four points with 13 seconds left to finish off the Toppers.  WKU saw its four game winning streak come to an end.    On their next outing, Rohnert struck again, scored 12 points, and made the game-winning basket with five seconds left to lead the Pioneers to a 56-54 victory over South Alabama at Magness Arena.  “We’ve been playing well every game for the past three weeks, but tonight at those critical moments we made the shots and didn’t turn the ball over…I thought our big turning point could be a win on the road, but why can’t it be beating the class of our conference at home?”, said Denver Coach Joe Scott.

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Checking in on the… Sun Belt

Posted by rtmsf on January 16th, 2009

Rick Henderson of The Owl’s Nest is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference.

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Toppers Move into Two-way Tie for First

We pegged University of Arkansas-Little Rock and Middle Tennessee as the teams to beat this season, and thus far, that is the case.  However, Middle Tennessee was defeated last night by the Hilltoppers in a nail biter 61-63.  Steffphon Pettigrew’s offensive rebound and subsequent put back with four seconds remaining sealed it for WKU.  Unbelievably, the Blue Raiders have not won at Diddle Arena since 1977.

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