American Athletic Conference Offseason Capsules

Posted by Mike Lemaire on October 15th, 2013

We are a little less than a month away from the start of another college basketball season and as teams start to get in to the swing of things, we here at the AAC microsite will be doing the same things. The offseason in college basketball can be a tedious stream of coaching changes, arrests, transfers, recruiting, and injury news. But it is still an important part of the game and since we know you have had better things to do than sit at home and track the minutiae of each AAC team’s offseason, we figured we would do it for you as the perfect way to launch our coverage for this season. Look for a full conference preview in the next week as well as the standard Morning Fives, some other fun coverage, and maybe even a new writer or two, who knows. 

Louisville

When your team is fresh off a National Championship and looking like a legitimate candidate to repeat, the last thing you want as a coach is an offseason full of distractions. Luckily for coach Rick Pitino, the distractions and bad news have been very limited this summer. Tragedy struck as Luke Hancock learned he lost his father to cancer while trying out for USA Basketball in Colorado and there was a late-summer scare over a knee injury suffered by Montrezl Harrell which turned out to be much ado about nothing. But the team also got to visit the White House in July, learned that guard Kevin Ware hadn’t been secretly suspended over the summer and has now been cleared for practice.

Rick Pitino Has Nothing To Complain About, Although We Doubt That Will Stop Him From Doing It Anyway.

Rick Pitino Has Nothing To Complain About, Although We Doubt That Will Stop Him From Doing It Anyway.

In fact, the most controversy surrounding Louisville from the offseason came when a pair of Boston radio hosts hung up on Pitino during a promotional interview after telling him that, “he ruined the Celtics.” Hilarious stuff, really. Pitino also gave a struggling assistant coach a job in the coolest way possible. Put it this way, if you are Pitino and the worst press of the offseason is that you were hung up on early during a promotional interview, you can live with that. The bottom line is that the Cardinals are loaded with talent and could be insanely deep if Ware makes it back to the court quicker than expected.

Connecticut

If it wasn’t for forward Tyler Olander’s DUI idiocy and suspension, it would have been a nice, quiet offseason for coach Kevin Ollie and his Huskies – especially when compared with previous offseasons. But the DUI charges against Olander have since been dropped and the forward has been reinstated, which is a huge boon to team with major frontcourt issues. Also, freshman guard Terrence Samuel cleared up eligibility concerns over the summer, adding more depth to an already loaded backcourt. The only remaining question is whether another key freshman, Kentan Facey, will be cleared to play with the team as he deals with eligibility concerns stemming from his time at a high school in Jamaica. The 6’9″ Facey is a prized recruit and will be an important frontcourt contributor if he is cleared to play. The Huskies look poised to quickly return to the NCAA Tournament this year.

Cincinnati

As far as interesting news goes, there is no team in the conference that has had a quieter offseason than the Bearcats. The offseason started with a bang when senior guard Sean Kilpatrick announced he would return for his senior season, but since then, it’s been all crickets. I guess you could count gangly forward Justin Jackson putting on 20 pounds or highly-touted 2014 recruit Qadri Moore’s commitment to the Bearcats big news, but that would be stretching the definition. In some cases the lack of news might not be such a good thing, but coach Mick Cronin still needs to break in a new starting point guard and find anyone who can be a legitimate anchor in the post, so Cronin has probably welcomed an offseason without distractions of either kind. Kilpatrick’s return makes life a bit easier for Cronin and the team has plenty of athleticism, but points will be hard to come by and rebounds may be harder to come by still.

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Morning Five: 06.03.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 3rd, 2013

morning5

  1. It is hard to believe that Rutgers could appear more out of touch with reality than they have been in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal, but new senior vice president and general counsel John Farmer Jr’s letter defending Julie Hermann might be a new low. In the letter Farmer compares the accusations of abuse against Hermann to accusations of marijuana use by Bill Clinton. What Farmer’s argument essentially boils down to is that the claims against Hermann are from her distant past and are of questionable validity much like the allegations that were made against Bill Clinton before the 1992 election. If the ridiculous comparison was not enough to make you aware that Hermann was keeping her job, Farmer closes by saying “She starts June 17. Period.” That may be true given how out of tune the Rutgers administration is to public perception, but don’t be surprised if Hermann is given less leeway for any future mistakes.
  2. Yesterday, the Pac-12 released an independent review of officiating for the Pac-12 Tournament that determined its officials acted appropriately (full report here). The entire investigation stems from a report that Pac-12 head of officials Ed Rush had offered a bounty (reportedly a free trip) to the official who gave Arizona head coach Sean Miller a technical. That revelation and the fact that Miller was given a technical, which was considered very strange before the reports about a bounty and may have affected the outcome of the game, eventually led to Rush’s resignation a few days later. The report’s conclusion was that Rush’s statements were not taken literally by other officials and did not affect the integrity of the game and the Pac-12 considers the matter closed. What remains to be seen is how Pac-12 officials will officiate Arizona games next season with this scandal still hanging over them (the Pac-12 may consider the case closed, but we can assure you that the fans do not feel that way).
  3. Houston‘s hopes of making its program nationally relevant again were dealt a big blow as director of basketball operations Michael Young announced that he was leaving the school after refusing a reassignment within the program and he will be taking his son Joseph Young, the team’s leading scorer, with him. Michael, who played for Houston’s famed Phi Slama Jama teams, had been serving as director of basketball operations, but had recently signed a new contract that reportedly offered him the same pay, but with a role in community service instead. According to the school, Michael had accepted his new position, but something changed in the past week. The big question now is what happens with Joseph and whether the NCAA will give him a waiver based on his father’s decision to leave the school since the other players who were granted such waivers were fired while Michael decided to walk away from the program.
  4. It was just a year ago that Shabazz Muhammad was considered a can’t miss prospect and one who could help lead UCLA back to glory even if only for his one season in college. Then came questions about his eligibility that was followed by up-and-down play where he showed flashes of brilliance, but never lived up to the hype. The latest twist in the Muhammad saga is that his father is now under house arrest after being charged with running a mortgage scam. Ronald Holmes, Muhammad’s father, is accused of obtaining “mortgage loans by fraudulent means to buy houses” and now the government is seeking to collect $2.5 million from him. As the article notes this is not the first time that Holmes has been accused of such an act. And if you were wondering $2.5 million would be right around Muhammad’s salary for his first two seasons (before taxes) based on where he is projected to be selected.
  5. You probably will not notice either decision next season, but a pair of moves involving two assistants coming to and leaving Kansas could have a big impact in the coming years. The decision by Iowa State to hire Doc Sadler probably will not make much of an impact on the Hawkeyes next season, but it does set up Sadler for a potential return to take over a new team in the near-future. Sadler’s two previous stops were at Nebraska (101-89) and UTEP (48-18) so it would seem like he would be an attractive candidate for almost any mid- or lower-tier program. Sadler’s move was actually part of a series of moves involving Kansas where Sadler was Director of Basketball Operations as the school brought in Jerrance Howard to replace Joe Dooley who left to take over a Florida Gulf Coast. The addition of Howard may actually be more important for the school as they are looking to Howard to help build on their recruiting as Cooley departure would have left a void in the program.
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Why SMU’s Headline Hire of Larry Brown Could Actually Work Out

Posted by EJacoby on April 23rd, 2012

Evan Jacoby is a regular contributor for RTC. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter.

It’s been almost a full week since Southern Methodist officially hired Larry Brown to become the Mustangs’ new head coach, creating major headlines from a school that hasn’t had much to show from its program’s entire basketball history. The question surrounding the hire remains — Does SMU really expect Brown to turn around the program, or is the hire simply intended to draw publicity to a team in desperate need of some attention? We tend to think that the primary motive was the latter, but that it also just might be a smart move for the SMU program at this point in time.

Why Him? Hall of Famer Larry Brown (and his Assistants) are a Smart Hire for SMU (AP Photo/N. Raymond)

Larry Brown is in the Basketball Hall of Fame with a decorated legacy that includes being the only coach to win both an NCAA (Kansas) and NBA (Detroit) championship, but he hasn’t coached in the college ranks in nearly 25 years. At 71 years old, and with a track record of bolting from head coaching positions early in his tenure, why is there any reason to expect that Brown will be capable of turning around a struggling college program? The truth of the matter is there probably isn’t. College basketball is not what it was back in 1988 when he won a title for Kansas. There are now over 340 Division I teams, many of which have come to expect postseason success given the widespread parity that the sport has developed. The fact that SMU hasn’t qualified for an NCAA Tournament since 1993 doesn’t give Brown any slack either — the school is headed for the Big East in two seasons and desperately needs to turn things around in a hurry.

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Big Ten Morning Five: 03.13.12 Edition

Posted by Deepak Jayanti on March 13th, 2012

  1. Tom Izzo‘s mood over the last year and a half has been all over the place. Over a year ago, Izzo was struggling with discipline issues on his team as he suspended Kory Lucious for the season. This season however, team chemistry has been the strongest asset of Michigan State. Izzo describes Michigan State’s success this year as the “power of chemistry.”  Losing Branden Dawson did not derail his team’s spirits because everybody else held themselves accountable and played their way to a Big Ten Tournament title.
  2. Illinois’ interim coach and former assistant coach of Bruce Weber, Jerrance Howard will not be coaching his first collegiate game this season.  The Fighting Illini were not invited to the National Invitational Tournament even though Iowa got invited with 17 wins. The Illinois Athletic Director, Mike Thomas will try to make sure that missing the NIT or the NCAA Tournament does not become a habit for the Illini fan base.
  3. Michigan head coach John Beilein is happy with the Big Ten regular season title, but definitely not satisfied.  He knows there is more to come and Wolverine basketball has to become consistent again. He compares Michigan’s consistency to programs such as Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State. Beilein knows Michigan has more room to improve and it can only get better if Tim Hardaway Jr. came back to play along with Trey Burke and incoming freshman Mitch McGary.
  4. Everybody is aware of the Illinois coaching vacancy, but what about Nebraska’s coaching position? It will be tough for Nebraska to make a sell at the top coaching candidates such as Shaka Smart or other coaches with consistent coaching records such as Greg Marshall of Wichita State. They don’t have the history of their football program to lure a promising young coach. But being in the Big Ten and a healthy budget in their athletic department should help them bring some talent to Lincoln to run a decent basketball program.
  5. It is only fitting that Robbie Hummel will end his career during the NCAA Tournament. One of the greatest players in Purdue history has not been back to the postseason in over two years due to injuries. Purdue is matched up with St. Mary’s. Hummel made an excellent recovery from the injuries as he averaged 16.3 points per game this season and continues to be the go-to guy for the Boilermakers. He is just happy to lead his team back to the NCAA Tournament before wrapping up his career.
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