Gazelle Group Back Up To Its Old Tricks

Posted by rtmsf on August 25th, 2009

Take a look at these two news reports, spaced about seven weeks apart this summer:

Exhibit A (July 9, 2009): 

The next chapter of Isiah Thomas’ coaching career will start amid familiar territory for the Hall of Famer: the Big Ten. FIU’s new coach is prepping to debut Nov. 9 at Ohio State in the opening round of a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament.

Exhibit B (August 25, 2009):

Isiah Thomas’ coaching debut at FIU just got a little tougher.  FIU’s first season under the Hall of Fame player will begin Nov. 9 at defending national champion North Carolina, part of a Coaches vs. Cancer tournament. It’s also the opener for the Tar Heels, according to the schedule released Tuesday by the Atlantic Coast Conference.

What in the name of Anucha Browne Sanders is going on here?!?

2k sports classic cvc

Look no further than our old friends, the Gazelle Group.  Yes, the entity that decided that the meaning of the word ”tournament” is factually and legally ambiguous, (updated for 2009) has decided that a UNC-FIU opener would be more interesting to more eyeballs than an Ohio St.-FIU game, and as such, has switched the openers for both schools as part of its sponsored Coaches vs. Cancer tournament event.    Controversy does seem to follow Thomas wherever he goes, but we’re putting this one squarely on the shoulders of the Gazelle Group.   In comparison, these guys make college football bowl organizers look fair and transparent.

FIU’s AD Pete Garcia is no more impressed with GG than we are.  He claims that the event organizers “bullied” FIU into signing the contract under the pretense that they would face OSU, and you know what, we believe him.  He stated that Gazelle Group organizers approached him last week asking him to change teams, and FIU refused.  When they received the press release today showing UNC as their opening opponent, they were shocked, and now they’re threatening to pull out of the CvC altogether.  As for the Gazelle Group, they’re hiding behind their contract language (which does clearly state FIU will play OSU or UNC), but it wouldn’t surprise us in the least if they promised one thing and did another while they were busily redefining that a basket will be worth 4 points and a player will receive 11 fouls this year.  

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07.23.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 23rd, 2009

It’s actually been a fairly busy week in the world of college hoops despite the mid-summer lull, so let’s take a look at some of the other key stories coming down the pike…

  • Hoop Dreams, 15 Years Later.  This week in his Hoops Thoughts column, Seth Davis pushed us down memory lane to the grungy days of 1994, a year of Cobain, Madonna’s undies and OJ’s white Bronco, but also of a bedraggled jewel of a documentary called “Hoop Dreams.”  We have a fair amount of younger readers on this site, so if you’ve never seen this movie, stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW, and rent it on Netflix or your local movie shop.  It is without question the best basketball film ever made.  Davis’ summary of the movie is good so we won’t belabor that here, but even fifteen years later, the movie holds its color, bouquet and taste much better than most items from that era.  We slightly quibble with Davis on his contention that HD was the first reality tv (The Real World says hello) or that the two players featured in the film, William Gates and Arthur Agee, were ordinary people (their extraordinary skills at basketball at a young age is what made them not ordinary), but we completely agree with his fundamental assessment that the authenticity behind these two players’ struggles still resonates today.  The early 90s, when Gates and Agee were documented in the film, was an era at the edge of a precipice in two key cultural shifts that are still impacting the game: 1) the worldwide online revolution of 1995, which has impacted scouting and recruiting in an exponential fashion now that players can be commodified based on Youtube clips and independent assessments from anywhere on the globe; and 2) Kevin Garnett’s decision to go to the NBA straight out of HS in 1995 led to a sea change in how high school players were viewed, pushing scouting (and dreams of riches) earlier and earlier into a player’s development.  From a re-viewing of the movie in 2009, it’s easy to see the seeds of World Wide Wes and his ilk as assembly-line talent evaluator-cum-agents strategically dropping their whispers of fame and fortune into player family’s ears at a young age.  What was once limited to the bigger cities and at a much smaller scale is now ubiquitous; where elite players were once counseled by their coach (as in, their HS coach, not their AAU coach), they now listen to runners and quasi-representatives from shoe companies.  All of the dirty elements that are plaguing today’s amateur player development and the college game are there on display, in a rawer, more transparent form, in Hoop Dreams.  The authenticity of how the system uses these players, only to spit them out when they’re no longer useful, is front and center – how have things changed?  Thanks to Seth for re-awakening everyone to this movie – it’s a must-see.     
  • SEC-TV.  Starting this fall, the SEC announced that it will broadcast an all-SEC sports network as part of its new $2.25B deal with ESPN.  The SEC Network (through ESPN Regional) will syndicate its college football and basketball games to 73 (and counting) markets, but what makes this announcement particularly compelling is how the SEC has strategically decided to move outside its traditional nine-state southeastern footprint for this deal.  Local affiliates in the major markets of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, as well as the three major Texas cities, are included in this deal, which unequivocally shows that the SEC isn’t playing games in terms of its foray to dominate college sports through national recruiting.  Where this could really pay dividends is not with the Kentuckys and Floridas, but with the Mississippi States and the Georgias of the SEC.  If games involving those teams are on tv in major media markets showing recruits a fun, winning style, they might be more inclined to consider going there over local state U.  How will the other leagues react?
  • F the Gazelle Group.  They’re back again this season with another faux-tournament in the form of the Legends Classic.  Remember our piece shredding them on this last year?  If you don’t, here’s a refresher.  The Gazelle Group got upset when little Gardner-Webb upset Kentucky in Rupp two years ago during a preliminary round game, meaning that the legions of UK fans they expected to buy tickets the next week weren’t showing.  So what’d they do the next year – they fixed the tournament!  Yep, all four of the ‘host’ teams get automatic entry to the Championship Rounds (final four teams) despite what happens in the prelims.  Total asinine garbage.  This year’s four faux-champs?  Michigan St., Rutgers, Florida and UMass.  MSU-Florida could be interesting, and definitely keep an eye on summer hotshot Mike Rosario from Joisey (playing in AC). 
  • Quick Hits.  Anthony Mason, Jr.: back in a Johnnies uni for 09-10.  Jim Calhoun: still going full boreJosh Selby/World Wide Wes: that’s just messed upWooden Classic: Georgetown v. Washington; UCLA v. Mississippi St.  Coach K: are Duke fans mad atchaMurray Bartow: 2-year extension at ETSU.  Dickie V: Summer Rolls-RoycersTop 25 Recruits: broken downGary Parrish: on the summer circuitSix OTs: enjoyAntonio Burks: recovering after robbery where he was shot.  Centenary: downgrading to D3WCC Tourney: in Vegas through 2012 (at least).  2010 Vegas Odds: sell Louisville
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We’ll See Your Maui, and Raise You a CBE…

Posted by rtmsf on November 24th, 2008

Yep, Feast Week is here, and that means tons of preseason tournament action this week.  And to think that some misguided folks still associate Thanksgiving with the gridiron!  Let’s take a quick look at the two tournaments starting tomorrow in Hawaii and Kansas City, and leave a comment if you have a favorite memory from one of these tourneys or a particular game you’re really excited about seeing.

turkey-feast

Maui Invitational

This is our favorite annual preseason tournament.  The Hawaiian shirts, the late start times, Bill Raftery, the high school gym, the raucousness of the fans, the soothing views of the sea as we go to commercial breaks, all of it.  Oh, and it’s usually a loaded field, and this year is no different. If things go as expected (and hoped), we’ll have two good games tomorrow (Texas v. St. Joe’s and Oregon v. Alabama) followed by an absolute blockbuster on Tuesday (Texas v. Notre Dame) and Wednesday (Texas/ND v. UNC).  And hey, who knows, there’s always the chance that little Chaminade can re-enact its magic from that fateful evening 26 yrs ago against another #1 team from the ACC with the reigning POY on the team.  Right?

CBE Classic

Ed. note: we’ve already written a post on the absurdity of the Gazelle Group’s decision to pre-slot the regional hosts (Florida, Washington, Kansas, Syracuse) into the semifinals.  Luckily for GG, all four hosts won their regions, thereby avoiding any possible outcry over the inherent unfairness of not allowing an upset winner to ‘advance’ into the semifinals of this ‘tournament.’

Nevertheless, the matchups in Kansas City are fairly good ones. All four of these teams have a good shot at playing March Madness this year.  For our money, Florida’s young guns versus Kansas’ would be the ideal final game on Tuesday night.

Semifinal Doubleheader
(November 24 – 7:30 ET)
Syracuse vs. Florida- ESPN2
Kansas vs Washington- ESPN2

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10.05.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2008

Folks, we’re only five weeks from the first games… just sayin…

  • Sixteen months after agreeing to return to Florida after about-facing on the Orlando Magic job, Billy Donovan finally signed his contract
  • Fooling with the Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun setup of the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament because of gas prices is pure folly – surely the NCAA isn’t that stupid, is it?
  • This is a pretty interesting NY Times article on how YouTube is changing the world of prospect identification and recruiting. 
  • More foolishness involving the Gazelle Group – they’re apparently trying to move UMass to a different subregional in the CvC at the last minute.
  • The difficulty of playing in the Big East, where 9 teams could be top-25 worthy this year.  Although Jameson at B/R makes a compelling argument that Georgetown is wildly overrated this year.
  • Ok, so it turns out that the George Mason F4 rings on Ebay were stolen and will be returned to the rightful owner, Dr. Scherrens.  Nice investigative work by Chris Brooks over at B/R. 
  • Gary Parrish continues with his ‘seedy underbelly’ offseason theme.
  • So what you’re saying is that the SEC will get seven teams in the NCAA Tournament next year (and deserve four)?
  • So who wants to bet on which coach will have the better 08-09 campaign – Marquette’s Buzz Williams or Indiana’s Tom Crean?
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Quite Possibly the Most Ridiculous Thing We’ve Ever Seen

Posted by rtmsf on October 2nd, 2008

Today we were doing some background work on some of the preseason tournaments – you know, the Maui, the PNIT, the Coaches v. Cancer, the CBE (formerly Guardians) Classic, etc. – and we came across some information that absolutely floored us.  Seriously – like a-George-Mason-administrator-who-also-happens-to-be-a-college-football-referee-selling-his-F4-rings-on-Ebay (h/t GMB) floored us.

Photo Credit: LA Times

When we started researching the CBE Classic and the Legends Classic, both tournaments put on by The Gazelle Group organization, we discovered very quickly that we couldn’t find a complete bracket for these tournaments.  Instead, all we located was a weird one-page listing of matchups on the CBE site, and a similar listing in addition to a four-team “Championship Bracket” on the Legends site.  As we floundered wondering what the hell was going on with these tournaments, we noticed an interesting little phrase tucked into the middle of the page of the CBE site (emphasis added). 

This year, the O’Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic will be played under a new format…

- Regional hosts automatically advance to the Championship Rounds in Kansas City regardless of the regional results.

- All other participants will advance to play a round-robin series at one of two other sites. Thus, every participating team will be guaranteed four games.

Ummmmm…. whaaaaaaattt??? 

Is this some kind of a joke?  Does The Gazelle Group think that we, the college hoops public, are complete effing morons?  How can they get away with this???  One of the ironclad bastions of basketball at every level from peewee league up to the pros is the idea of tournament play – you win, you advance.  You lose, you go home.  And here we have the first instance we’ve ever seen where that rule of basketball law is being fixed supplanted so that the money teams get to keep playing irrespective of their on-court performance.

Oh, but RTC, Kansas, Florida, Washington and Syracuse are going to win those CBE Classic games against a couple of nobodies anyway.  Same for Wazzu, Mississippi St, Pitt and Texas Tech in the Legends Classic.  No harm, no foul, right? 

Where’s My Shotgun?

Well, here’s a reminder for those of you with that clouded mentality – Gardner-Webb.   Does that name ring a bell from last year’s CvC Classic?  In the subregional round, the little school from outside of Charlotte shocked the basketball world by defeating mighty Kentucky in its worst home loss in almost two decades.  In the middle of football season, that loss earned far more attention in the national media (PTI, Sportscenter, etc.) than whoever won that tournament actually got.  But the problem, apparently, was that the Kentucky loss resulted in G-W and its dozens of fans going to NYC to play in Madison Square Garden rather than the Big Blue and its legions of fans (and dollars).  So this year the Gazelle Group has managed to rig the system in two of its sponsored tournaments so that the marquee names have a 100% chance (as opposed to the 99% chance they previously had) of getting to the semifinal round. 

Sorry Fairleigh Dickinson, Eastern Kentucky, North Alabama and Akron (among others), The Gazelle Group doesn’t have room for you on its dance card this year.  But hey!  At least you’re guaranteed four games, right?  That’s just as good as playing in a big-time arena on ESPN, right?

Memo to TGG for next season – why don’t we just take a vote of 12 random teams and declare it the champion of the tournament?  That way we can simply do away with the tedium of getting teams to the various locations, televising the games, and actually worrying about who will advance to the next round!  You can run ads on ESPN for a month given all the money you’ll save!  As for your judges, we hear that there’s a former French Olympic judge available to serve on your panel, and Katherine Harris is always around for this sort of thing…

What a stinking, heaping, vomit-inducing pile of abomination. 

Please tell The Gazelle Group how much they suck at: gazelle@gazellegroup.com.

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Is This Really Necessary?

Posted by rtmsf on November 15th, 2007

So you’ve probably heard by now that there will be a third national postseason (after the NCAA and NIT) tournament called the College Basketball Invitational starting in March 2008 (um, great name, guys).  The Gazelle Group, the people who are bringing us all these lively preseason tourneys such as the Coaches v. Cancer and the CBE Classic have somehow paid off convinced the NCAA that giving another sixteen crappy overlooked teams more games to play is a good idea

Selection Process:
The 16 team field will consist of teams that are not selected for the 65 team NCAA Tournament. Teams will be invited based upon their performance during their conference and non-conference schedule, as well as how well the team is playing at the end of the regular season.

Format:
The College Basketball Invitational will be a single-elimination tournament, up until the Championship Series, with all games being played at campus sites. The Championship Series will be a best of three series, home-away-home, in which the higher seed will get the first and last (if necessary) home games.    

Ohhhh, so that’s how it will work, huh?  So considering 2007, what kinds of teams would have been invited to this thing?  25-8 Appalachian St.?  22-9 Bucknell?  Teams that had really good seasons from smaller conferences?  Or the same tired ninth and tenth place teams from the major conferences?  Well, we can actually answer that question.  Here’s a sample bracket based on last year’s season results provided by the Gazelle Group.

CBI Projected 2007 

Oh.  16-15 Oklahoma.  17-15 LSU.  17-14 UConn.  17-14 Nebraska.  These teams were simply not very good last year – didn’t we see enough of them already?

Sounds thrilling.  Can’t wait.           

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