Morning Five: 06.01.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 1st, 2011

  1. Some of you younger folks may not know this, but in the first several years of its existence, ESPN actually was an acronym that stood for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network.  The guys in Bristol ultimately decided that the four letter “word” was such a strong brand in and of itself that they dumped the rest of it, and it appears that the Big Ten Network is thinking along the same lines two decades later.  Beginning this week, the network will go by BTN in an effort to re-brand their products, which includes associated logos for each Big Ten school (Michigan pictured here) and allows the company to expand into new ventures and opportunities that may not be television-related.
  2. It’s not every day that a Mighty Mouse joins a coaching staff, but former Arizona all-america point guard Damon Stoudamire has signed on to become an assistant on Josh Pastner’s staff at Memphis.  Stoudamire enjoyed a thirteen-year NBA career that included the 1995 Rookie of the Year award, but has spent the last three years in low-level positions at Rice University and the Memphis Grizzlies.  His hiring at Memphis is interesting from a player development perspective, as Stoudamire brings a wealth of experience as a 5’10 guard who had an uncanny ability to get shots off in a number of settings.  For a guy like Tiger sophomore point guard Joe Jackson, who committed a total of six more turnovers than assists last season, Stoudamire could be a tremendous positive influence.
  3. Can we send our correspondent to the pickup sessions at Memorial Coliseum this summer in Lexington?  We already knew that John Calipari was going to have a boatload of talent on his roster in the fall, but it now appears that most of his key players will be on campus over the summer too given the news that forward Terrence Jones will not try out for the Under-19 Team USA later this month.  The three big-time recruits that Calipari has coming in — Anthony Davis, Marquis Teague, and Michael Gilchrist — have also made similar decisions to stick around campus this summer.  Assuming that several of Cal’s former Cats such as John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter and Eric Bledsoe pass through Lexington for even a brief interlude to hoop, there might be more young talent during the hot months playing basketball in Lexington than anywhere else in America.
  4. Somehow we missed this over the long weekend, but Pat Forde late last week published a piece that takes a look at the top ten overachieving and underachieving programs in college basketball since 1985.  This is a great article, in theory, and one that we here at RTC talk about doing in depth frequently; but, even though Forde justifies his selections with a paragraph explaining each, something seems a little off when Duke is listed as the second-biggest overachiever (does a top six program truly overachieve?) and Northwestern as the top underachiever (with no expectations, how can it underachieve?).  It’s admittedly a strange list — maybe we would have preferred it if the title had been outstanding vs. disappointing programs?
  5. What’s this, a serious piece of opinion and commentary from Deadspin?  The venerable old blog’s Tommy Craggs uses the prism of the Jim Tressel scandal to nail the media to the wall for falling victim to the same dog-and-pony circus act of faux-outrage we see every time that something like this is unveiled.  His key statement: “What I can’t tolerate is the passel of excellent journalists who understand all the cockeyed incentives of big-time college sports, who know precisely where the big con lies, and who nonetheless write story after story after story after story in which they mistake the symptoms for the contagion.”  It’s an interesting point, but one with which we’re not sure we ultimately agree.  Depending on your perspective, either these investigations and subsequent stories are part of a long-term process to expose the hypocrisy he refers to layer by layer; or, they’re simply isolated instances that don’t amount to anything in the aggregate.  We tend toward the former, and until the NCAA recognizes and solves its own internal battle of enforcement versus self-interest, we’ll have to settle for the good, if piecemeal, work that these journos are doing to expose the seedy side.
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Morning Five: 05.31.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 31st, 2011

  1. The biggest news involving college sports on Monday was the resignation of Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel after ten very successful seasons amidst swirling allegations of misconduct involving at least 28 of his players trading memorabilia for tattoos, marijuana and cash (as reported by SI).  Normally this sort of thing wouldn’t involve this site unless the allegations leaked over to the basketball program, but speculation on Twitter and around the web about whether Tressel may face a show-cause penalty set off a mini-firestorm among several going back and forth over Kentucky’s John Calipari as a basketball equivalent (Searching for Billy Edelin noted several others here).  Calipari himself added a little fuel to the fire with his tweet on Monday night needling “the triumvirate and compadres” for their “radio silence” with respect to positive stories surrounding the Kentucky program, one of which was Brett McMurphy’s piece Monday on Cal’s association with Dick Vitale’s Jimmy V gala recently and his general philanthropy.  Remember the mantra when it comes to Calipari: loved, hated but never ignored.
  2. After quite a few names thrown around in recent days (including the itinerant Larry Brown of all people), Penn State appears closer to making a hire to replace abruptly-departed Ed DeChellis.  Andy Katz reported on Monday that three names were likely candidates — Duquesne’s Ron Everhart, Boston University’s Pat Chambers, and Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Rob Jeter — with Everhart confirmed as interviewing at PSU on Tuesday.  Frankly, Penn State fans would likely be thrilled with any of those three, as each has shown a proven capability of success at the mid-major level, but recruiting a winner to a basketball wasteland with a low (for Big Ten standards) salary will require a rather compelling pitch from AD Tim Curley.
  3. Welcome to next year.  One of the first jobs that new Tennessee head coach Cuonzo Martin has in front of him is to face the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in two weeks to answer for allegations that occurred under the previous guy’s direction (a jocular dude named Bruce Pearl; remember him?).  The Vols don’t expect that any probation ultimately coming their way will involve a postseason ban, but they expect to at least lose a scholarship for a year or two and have some restrictions placed on his recruiting.  We’re not sure exactly what Martin will be asked to say at this hearing other than “yes, sir” and “no, sir,” but we’re quite certain that he’ll be hoping all the while that his appearance at this sort of thing in Indianapolis will be his last.
  4. Mike DeCourcy writes about the five teams that he believes have a pretty good shot at ending NCAA Tournament droughts next season.  We won’t spoil the surprise other than to say that Ivy League fans based in Cambridge are not going to be happy with their exclusion from this list — 66 years!  Truthfully, though, his five are eminently reasonable, although choosing Northwestern to come through is probably just as dubious as referencing John Harvard’s school on any kind of such list.
  5. An elite Class of 2012 guard named RJ Hunter from Indianapolis recently committed to Georgia State over notable BCS-level schools Virginia Tech, Wake Forest and Iowa.  Um, why would a player receiving offers from those schools commit to Georgia State?  Turns out that the school had a bit of an advantage in his recruiting process — his father, Ron Hunter, recently took the head coaching job at GSU in Atlanta after nearly two decades at IUPUI.  RJ said that Bryce Drew’s experience playing for his dad, Homer, at Valparaiso had an influence on his decision, and we’ve seen in recent years as Ray McCallum, Jr., and Trey Ziegler both had successful freshman seasons playing for their old men at mid-majors Detroit and Central Michigan, respectively, last year.  Good for him.
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Morning Five: 05.25.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on May 25th, 2011

  1. Could have sworn there was a thunderclap after we first read this one. Jim Calhoun’s prediction for the Big East is that “I think you’ll see a separation” of the conference along the fault line of those BE schools that play football and those that play everything but football. Also interesting is that he thinks it’ll happen “within the next couple of years, four or five years down the road,” and adds, “I don’t think I’ll see this.” Calhoun leaving Connecticut in that time frame wouldn’t surprise anyone, but it’s still odd to conceptualize.
  2. A day after Ed DeChellis said adios to Penn state, PSU athletic director Tim Curley began the (not at all expected) search for a new head coach. For you speculating Nittany Lion backers, put names like Brad and Shaka out of your minds. Fran Dunphy would be a total coup and ain’t gonna happen, either. Curley says DeChellis left the program in an “excellent state,” but there’s no doubting he needs a name, here, or at the very least a young shark to get the student body excited. So, place your bets: Pat Flannery? Bruiser Flint? Ron Everhart? Joe Paterno?
  3. Mark Titus became a pretty famous guy a few years ago with the website Club Trillion, his blog about his adventures as a last-man-on-the-pine walk-on on the Ohio State basketball team. Regarding the recent allegations involving the football team and Jim Tressel, Titus recently posted on his site that he noticed how cars driven by football players were always nicer than those driven by basketball players, leading him to deduce that either the football players were awarded larger stipends, were better at managing money, came from wealthier families, or “received discounted and/or free cars.” The OSU faithful, many of whom were probably once Titus’ biggest fans, aren’t happy, as evidenced by the comments section [h/t: Lost Lettermen].
  4. Arik Armstead is the #1 high school football player in the country, according to Scout.com. He’s verbally committed to play at USC. So why is he making a visit to the University of Nevada with an eye toward playing college basketball? Well, he says he’d rather play hoops, and ESPN.com says he’s the 33rd best power forward in the country. And his father is good friends with Wolf Pack head coach David Carter. USC says he can also play basketball for them if he wants, and having the Song Girls cheer for you in two sports is a preposterously enticing deal, but Armstead throws in a quote at the end that makes us think he may actually be considering the roundball.
  5. Gentlemen of Villanova, get your passports ready. Jay Wright’s going all Clark W. Griswold on us and taking his team on a ten day European vacation in August. Because Wright has only two starters returning next season, it’s a good chance for the Wildcats to bond while playing some quality clubs just ahead of their 2011-12 campaign and after two straight years of disappointing NCAA Tournament results. Make sure to look both ways twice when crossing those streets, fellas.
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NYT Dig At Calipari/Kentucky Just More Of The Same

Posted by jstevrtc on May 20th, 2011

Have you heard this one before? New York Times. John Calipari.

Shots fired.

[That's a favorite of the Twitterati.]

In Wednesday’s online edition of the New York Times there appeared an article written by Harvey Araton about Kyrie Irving attending the live NBA Draft Lottery rank-order show and about how Irving could go as the first overall pick to Cleveland. In the piece, Araton makes a point to mention that, according to Kyrie’s father, Drederick, Kyrie’s decision to leave school after a single college season (one in which he played in a mere 11 games due to injury) did not represent a “long-planned escape from the often unholy alliance of Division I sports and academia.” In other words, the father is asserting that Kyrie isn’t just leaving school early to avoid college nor is Kyrie abandoning his plans for obtaining a degree. The elder Irving is a financial broker on Wall Street, and Araton quotes him as saying, “Everybody in my family has gotten their degrees, their master’s. We value the education aspect of it with Kyrie.”

Calipari Is Characterized As Someone Who Devalues Education Because He Embraces One-and-Done Players, a Logical Fallacy Not Many Critics Will Own Up To

Here is Araton’s next sentence in the article:

“Had they not, Kyrie would have been with John Calipari at Kentucky last season, where [Kyrie's] godfather, [Rod] Strickland, works as an assistant coach.”

Uh…beg pardon? Let’s make sure we got that straight. Using Araton’s own words, what he said there was, “Had they not cared about the education aspect of it with Kyrie, Kyrie would have been with John Calipari at Kentucky last season, where the godfather, [Rod] Strickland, works as an assistant coach.”

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