Amid Controversy, Dan Majerle is Quietly Building a Winner in Phoenix

Posted by Greg Mitchell on May 8th, 2014

The news that Royce Woolridge had decided to spend his final year of eligibility at Grand Canyon University may be a bigger deal than you think. The Phoenix-area native is returning home to play for Dan Majerle at the first for-profit university to call Division I home. Yes, Thunder Dan Majerle. In its inaugural Division I season in the reconfigured WAC, the former Phoenix Suns star and assistant coach guided the Antelopes to a surprising 15-15 (10-6 WAC) record, good for third in the conference (after being picked to finish last in the preseason). The Antelopes will lose four rotation players to graduation, including their top two scorers, but adding Woolridge is another small step forward for what one day turn out to be a major story in college basketball.

Dan Majerle is trying to build a winner at for-profit Grand Canyon (azcentral.com).

Dan Majerle is trying to build a winner at for-profit Grand Canyon (azcentral.com).

The former Washington State and Kansas guard is a high major player (7.4 PPG, 2.3 APG), and an even more important get for Majerle because he was a two-time high school All-Arizona selection at Phoenix Sunnyslope. The Antelopes’ top returning player, Jerome Garrison (37.8 MPG, 16.5 PPG, 20.5 PER), was also a Phoenix prep standout. Having these two local products to generate good will with area high school coaches and players could be a boon for future recruiting. It’s not as if Majerle lacks for local notoriety; current high schoolers may not remember NBA Jam or Thunder Dan’s playing days, but his list of All-Star appearances and NBA coaching chops should be attention-grabbers. Still, when Garrison was initially recruited by Grand Canyon, he’d never heard of the school that is located in his own backyard. “Nobody knew about Grand Canyon,” Garrison told USA Today. “Nobody knew anything going on at Grand Canyon. All you heard about was [Arizona State] and [Arizona] here.” Having players like he and Woolridge in the fold could allow Majerle to capitalize on what he already brings to the table.

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Who Won The Week? Kentucky, Rayvonte Rice, and a Newbie Squad Led by a Former NBA Sharpshooter

Posted by Kenny Ocker on January 3rd, 2014

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), a Spokane-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game. But he’s not biking anywhere with a sub-zero wind chill.

After an unforeseen circumstance, some traveling and Christmas, welcome back to Who Won The Week? Let’s get down to business.

WINNER: Kentucky

Kentucky was an easy choice this week. (Getty)

The Wildcats were an easy choice this week. (Getty)

The nation’s top team on the offensive glass and at getting to the free throw line managed to net a home win over its in-state rival and defending national champion in their only game in two weeks. Not bad, right? Doing it without the services of super-freshman Julius Randle in the second half as he was sidelined by cramps makes it even more impressive. In his stead, fellow freshmen Andrew and Aaron Harrison and James Young combined for 46 points – after Randle had scored 17 points in the first half – as the Wildcats pulled off a 73-66 win in Lexington and picked up its first marquee non-conference win in the process. After missing out on neutral-court shots versus Michigan State and Baylor, notching a win against the top team in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings is a nice way to salvage a good non-conference schedule.

LOSER: Louisville

OK, so Russ Smith did this, to Julius Randle, no less.

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Hatin’ Larry Krystowiak: Volume I

Posted by Connor Pelton (@ConnorPelton28) on November 15th, 2013

A Pac-12 adaption of Every Day Should Be Saturday’s Hatin’ Steve Spurrier character. 

credit: The Grizzoulian

Larry Krystowiak (Credit: The Grizzoulian)

  • It’s just not hoops season until Washington loses to a Big West team by 14 at home. Thanks, UC Irvine.
  • Who doesn’t love the new foul rules? Two and a half hour games. Fifty fouls. This game is about flow, kids.
  • Oregon’s at it again, guys.
  • I’ve got more important things to do at 7:00 AM than watch a Quinnipiac-La Salle game. Slackers.
  • Is there a coach with more job security than Craig Robinson after losing to a lower-level MEAC team? Is there a coach other than Craig Robinson taking his team to the White House this week? The answer is in there somewhere, folks.
  • Robert Morris will look to continue its dominance of Kentucky on Sunday in Lexington. LOL.
  • How many more times does Stanford have to give up 100 points before Johnny Dawkins is fired?
  • Grand Canyon has opened its season at 0-2. Stockholders ain’t gonna be pleased.
  • Gary Payton II has committed to Oregon State. They call him “The Mitten.” That’s not a joke. Really.
  • Yeah, we lead the nation in points scored. Play someone other than Evergreen State, you say? Haters gonna hate.
  • The Marshall Henderson show is back. Once a Ute, always a Ute, is what I say.
  • Colorado has found the key to student attendance – bacon. No word on how USC’s free Ferrari promotion is working out.
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Pac-12’s Stance Against Grand Canyon Is Laughably Ironic

Posted by Chris Johnson on July 23rd, 2013

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

In a letter signed by league presidents and directed to the NCAA’s Executive Cmmittee on July 10, the Pac-12 voiced its unanimous opposition to the Division I promotion of Grand Canyon University, the first for-profit institution to, in essence, enter the college sports big leagues. The presidents laid out their opinion in clear, unmistakable, vehement tones. They want Grand Canyon out of Division I because Grand Canyon isn’t like other Division I schools. “Our major concern is how athletics fit within academic missions of for-profit universities,” read the letter. The presidents’ concerns are not unfounded – Grand Canyon is on the vanguard of for-profit schools entering Division I (the school began its transition process from Division II on July 1, and will be eligible for the NCAA Tournament as a member of the decaying WAC conference in 2017-18; Grand Canyon does not have a football team.) Anytime something new breaks into the college sports lexicon – or any major field of interest, really – there are going to be questions. There’ll be detractors, too, and the Pac-12 is leading this particular faction with a determined conviction to block Grand Canyon’s move. There’s no going back now.

Division I's first for-profit institution has incited protest from Pac 12 schools (Credit: ShermanReport.com)

Division I’s first for-profit institution has incited protest from Pac 12 schools (Credit: ShermanReport.com)

I just have one question: Did all of the Pac-12’s presidents just sleep through the past three years of conference realignment? Because it almost seems that way. I mean, how else can you rationalize a group of D-I presidents who, in the wake of almost three years of non-stop financially-driven realignment, openly question whether a program is doing something in the service of its own “academic mission?” What did the recent realignment frenzy tell us, if not that schools have absolutely zero regard for their “academic missions” or decades-old rivalries or cultural fit or geographic common sense or anything else not related to a program’s bottom line, when making major decisions about their place in the college sports landscape? Did the constantly shifting allegiances, the explicitly discussed dollars-fueled realignment moves, the near-implosion of a Big Six conference, not say anything about the incentives of major college sports programs? Money, bundled in TV contracts and broadcast rights deals, was the wind blowing conference realignment’s sails, and while the league-hopping drama may have reached a temporary stasis, the whole ordeal left a distinct impression about the way modern college sports are governed. The motivation is clear: Get money now and deal with everything else later.

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UNLV Announces Its Punishment for Tre’Von Willis

Posted by nvr1983 on September 28th, 2010

For the past 3 months, much of the college basketball world has speculated about how Lon Kruger and the UNLV administration would punish Tre’Von Willis following his arrest on a charge of domestic violence stemming from an incident where he allegedly strangled a woman on June 29th. Earlier today Willis reached a plea agreement with local law enforcement authorities where he could face the following penalties:

  • Suspended 90-day jail sentence
  • 100 hours of community service
  • $340 fine
  • 6 months of domestic violence counseling
  • No contact with his accuser
  • Suspended at least 3 games

While the punishment sounds serious it is unlikely that Willis will have to do much other than pay a relatively small fine, do some community service (probably show up at a few basketball clinics), and try not to break the law until the end of the season. If he does get into trouble with the law, Willis could be forced to serve the rest of the suspended 90-day sentence (assuming he has probably only spent one day in jail at the time of his arrest).

Willis Appears to Have Gotten Off Easy

For his part Willis released the following statement, where he said:

I want to apologize to my family, the university, my coaches, my teammates and to the community of Las Vegas. I feel awful and embarrassed. I used extremely poor judgment, made a mistake and take responsibility for what happened. I will work hard to earn back the trust and support of the fans and those close to me.

Now for the part that most of you are interested: his suspension from the Rebels. In a statement to the media, Kruger said:

Tre’Von made a mistake and feels horrible about it. He let a lot of people down. With any mistake there are consequences and he is accepting responsibility for what he did. In addition to the legal-system penalties, he is also being penalized by the program to address the mistakes he made and will miss at least the first 10 percent of his senior season.

Although the media and UNLV’s official site are reporting that this means that Willis will miss at least three games if we are being technically correct (and since UNLV is an institution of higher learning they should be ok with basic math), the Rebels play 32 regular season games (counting the 2 exhibition games, which should count since they are counting it in his suspension), so Willis should miss more than three games (or at least four if Kruger isn’t trying to pull a Rex Ryan / Braylon Edwards suspension). According to UNLV’s schedule, the three games that Willis is scheduled are two exhibition games (against Grand Canyon and Washburn — yeah, we never heard of them either) and one regular season game (against UC-Riverside), all of which are at home. If UNLV is following Kruger’s statement to the letter (or number) they should also suspend Willis for their next game, which they play at home against Southeastern Louisiana. This would mean that Kruger would technically be able to bring his star guard back in time for the Rebels’ game against Wisconsin (surely a coincidence). The match-up of two potential top 25 teams would certainly be intriguing and making that the first game back for Willis would give Kruger and the Rebels a built-in excuse to lobby the NCAA Selection Committee in March to give them a break because the team would be readjusting to playing with Willis in case the Rebels lose to the Badgers at the Thomas & Mack Center. This isn’t to say that Kruger is trying to a Bobby Bowden by announcing  a delayed suspension that would allow his players to play against a tough team first and then suspend them for a subsequent game against a cupcake, but it is interesting to say the least.

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