Morning Five: 08.31.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 31st, 2012

  1. We know that all of you like us have spent the last couple of weeks waiting with bated breath to hear the official explanation as to how Julius Peppers‘ depressing UNC transcript ended up on an NC State message board. We now have our answer. According to North Carolina administrators, the saga began 11 years ago when a staffer made a test record of a de-identified copy of Peppers’ transcript and placed the original file on a secure server. Subsequently, during a 2007 technology migration to a new system, Peppers’ original transcript file came over with it and ended up on an unsecured server. It sat there for five years until some enterprising Wolfpack fan exhumed it a few weeks ago. UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp said on Thursday that he personally apologized to Peppers for the privacy transgression, but it wasn’t clear from his statement whether that phone call came before or after Peppers made a massive scholarship donation of $250,000 to the school.
  2. There was some big player movement news on Thursday as Memphis announced that junior college superstar Geron Johnson has matriculated at the school and is eligible to play immediately. Johnson has spent a career moving around and getting arrested rather than playing basketball — he was dismissed from both of his junior college teams, as an example — so this should make for an interesting situation under Josh Pastner next season. With a strong group of Tigers returning, the addition of a player the caliber of Johnson on the perimeter could potentially convert Memphis from a Sweet Sixteen team into a Final Four team. On the other hand, history has quite clearly shown that Johnson does not know how to avoid becoming a distraction. As a parallel, former Tiger Jelan Kendrick caused all sorts of headaches for Pastner before he was finally dismissed from the team on the eve of the 2010 opener, so the head coach clearly isn’t afraid to cut a trouble-maker loose. All in all, it’s probably worth the risk to Pastner to see how Johnson handles the first half of the fall semester and first few weeks of practice before making a final decision on whether he’ll wear the uniform next season.
  3. While on the transfer tip, Fresno State announced on Thursday that former Oklahoma State guard Cezar Guerrero has enrolled at the school and will pursue a waiver request with the NCAA to play next season. The rising sophomore spent a successful first season at OSU, averaging six points and a couple dimes per game in just about 19 minutes per contest, but he wanted to move closer to his hometown of Los Angeles to be nearer to his ailing mother. The Bulldogs were not very good last season, but with Guerrero possibly in the fold and a couple more nice transfers coming in (Kansas’ Braeden Anderson and Pacific’s Allen Huddleston), Fresno could be poised to make a leap in the rugged Mountain West. One other transfer note: former Xavier player Dez Wells is apparently looking hard at none other than John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats.
  4. We can’t say that we’ve every actually made it over to Terre Haute, Indiana, but if we ever had, you can rest assured that the very first thing we would have done was to make a beeline to the Indiana State campus and ask directions for the statue of Larry Bird. Imagine our surprise when our fake-traveler self would have learned that, alas, there is no such thing. At least not at ISU. Our next question,”how is this possible,” probably would have been met with a shrug and a “good luck,” but when we learned Thursday that Bird’s alma mater was finally making plans to build a 15-foot bronze statue of the Legend, we made a mental note to do a visit there eventually. Here is a short list of big-time basketball schools who cannot claim one of the top 10 basketball players to ever walk the earth: Duke, Kentucky, Syracuse, Georgetown, Indiana, Connecticut. But you know who can? Indiana Freakin’ State. How can it take 34 years to get this done — astonishing.
  5. What might be even more astonishing is when schools claim national titles that the simply do not have. Our disgust over treating Helms Titles in the same way as national championships won on the court is well-documented, but how should we feel if a school begins claiming that other (non-NCAA) tournament titles are also “national championships?” Can Pitt claim a national title for winning last year’s CBI? Does Mercer have one for winning the CIT? Well, Louisville has pushed forward with a new adidas t-shirt suggesting that the school (who, incidentally, has won NCAA championships in 1980 and 1986) has won four national titles. A little deeper research performed by Kentucky Sports Radio (who else?) shows that the Cards won a tournament called the NAIB in 1948 and the NIT in 1956. Is this trend of claiming national championships from whole cloth marketing genius or shameless deception disguised as celebration? We’re tending toward the latter. Don’t do this, Louisville.
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.22.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 22nd, 2012

  1. From the time-on-his-hands department, we move to the curious tweeting of former North Carolina, Florida Atlantic and SMU head coach, Matt Doherty. The former Tar Heel — both as a player (1980-84) and coach (2000-03) — took to the Tweether on Tuesday to defend one of his former players, Julius Peppers. Of course everyone reading this by now knows the context under which Peppers has become a hot topic in the college basketball community, but most folks have lost track of Doherty, a disastrous hire seemingly everywhere he’s been. No worries, though, as the erstwhile coach makes clear in this tweet, he is currently getting “paid for not working!” Funny, that’s what UNC fans were screaming at the top of their lungs around a decade ago. Still, the entire series of semi-abrasive and tweets makes you wonder if Doherty plans on ever working in this business again.
  2. Is it every too early to start breaking down the juiciest match-ups in the non-conference schedule for the upcoming season? No argument here, as CNNSI.com’s Andy Glockner in mid-August has already put together his list of the 25 best pre-conference games (nearly all of these are in November and December). As it should be, the list is very top-heavy, with annual favorites Kentucky, Indiana, Louisville and North Carolina representing seven of the 10 spots in the top five games. It’s hard to quibble with lists like these because so much of it comes down to a matter of taste, but for our money, the best game on the agenda is the Champions Classic match-up between Kentucky and Duke. Sure, Louisville and UK are the bitterest of rivals and the storylines between Calipari and Pitino are too many to count. But we just played that game a few months ago in New Orleans, and we have it at least one other time per season. Instead, give us the Wildcats and Blue Devils, a pair of teams that somehow and shockingly have not played each other in ELEVEN WHOLE YEARS (Duke won in the 2001 Jason Williams overtime classic at the Jimmy V — check the Youtube clips here). How is this possible? How can Kentucky and Duke not see each other at least once every few seasons? All in all, though, if Glockner’s list doesn’t get your juices pumping, we can’t help you.
  3. One of Glockner’s juiciest 25 games is the annual Crosstown Shootout game between Cincinnati and Xavier, and regardless of the players on the floor, he’s 100% correct in that this game is always worth a viewing. Xavier, the big winner in last year’s brawl game, lost quite a bit of its production to graduation but was expected to bring back fourth-leading scorer (9.8 PPG) and TSN A-10 Freshman of the Year, Dez Wells. No longer. The school expelled Wells yesterday for a serious violation of Xavier’s student code of conduct.” XU would not provide additional details about the violations, but it’s safe to assume that his transgression fell on the side of worse than pushing a UC player causing an embarrassing fracas. The question we now have is: Who doesn’t need a scoring and rebounding big guard who will have three years of eligibility remaining after a one-year transfer layoffs. We’re betting that the over/under on calls to Wells by this morning is somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 schools.
  4. With a new commissioner and a new lead negotiator in tow, the Big East is battening down all the hatches before its television negotiation window opens up in a bit over a week from now. The latest news that shows the league is putting its absolute best foot forward for its TV masters of the universe is that the conference is very close to securing a 10-year extension to its existing deal that will keep the Big East Tournament at the Mecca, Madison Square Garden, through 2026. This is very important to the future of the league for a number of reasons, but perhaps the weightiest is that it will serve to keep the encroaching ACC (with new members Pittsburgh and Syracuse) out of Manhattan for a good while. Furthermore, even though nearly everyone agrees that football drives the financial bus of the power conferences, the Big East’s Mike Aresco and the ACC’s John Swofford seem to recognize the value in their specific basketball products. The Big East Tournament on Seventh Avenue between 31st and 33d Streets is a big part of that value, so it’s great to see that Aresco and his team clearly understand that.
  5. Finally, we have no idea what to make of this news, but it’s bizarre and worth mentioning as we close things out nonetheless. Kellogg’s announced that it will release a series of Pop Tarts the company calls “printed fun” with five different flavors coinciding with the following schools: Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina. As this responding article at Hoopsworld shows, Twitter may have had more fun with this meme than Doherty enjoyed all by lonesome on Tuesday. Somewhere in Lubbock, Texas, Billy Gillispie reportedly kicked over a case of delicious Pop Tart goodness with the release of this news. Alas.
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.21.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2012

  1. In one of the shortest collegiate careers that we’ve quite frankly ever seen, Kansas freshman Milton Doyle has already decided that he’s had enough in Lawrence. That’s right, Doyle, still some seven-plus weeks away from his first Midnight Madness, is transferring from KU due to — can you believe this? – a lack of playing time. Sure, Bill Self was diplomatic when he announced Doyle’s departure on Monday — he said, “[Doyle] thought it was better for him to go to a place where he had a better opportunity to impact a program early in his career” — but the 6’4″ guard played sparingly during the Jayhawks’ recent trip to Europe, and it was clear that he was going to spend much of his first season at KU sitting behind experienced players such as Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Naadir Thorpe in the rotation. Why this should be a problem for a player who was headed to FIU last spring before head coach Isiah Thomas was fired, we don’t know, but it’s painfully stark further evidence of the pervasive attitude of instant gratification that this generation of prep basketball players seems to carry as a birthright.
  2. From a freshman player who should have considered himself lucky to have an opportunity to wear a Kansas uniform to a pair of future freshmen who will no doubt very much enjoy their six months of the college experience in 2013-14, two of the top five players in the Class of 2013 — Aaron and Andrew Harrisonhave announced through Nick Jones at the Kentucky Kernel that they will announce their joint college choice on October 29. The date represents the day after the pair’s 18th birthday and presumably gives them plenty of time to take some visits in September and October among their five finalist schools — Baylor, Kentucky, Maryland, SMU, and Villanova. According to Adam Zagoria, the first three on that list are the schools contacting the twins most frequently (maybe they’re just picking up the phone for those caller IDs?).
  3. Mike DeCourcy checked in with Ben Howland just shy of UCLA’s Wednesday trip to China, and if summertime coachspeak is your thing, this detailed article will give you a very good sense as to how good the head coach thinks his team will be next season. It’s well worth the read for the information that you will glean on how Larry Drew II is handling point guard duties; whether Kyle Anderson can man the position if Drew falls through; the development of the Wear twins; the so-called best shooter at UCLA since Michael Roll; and, Shabazz Muhammad’s limitless motor. But the real jewel of the article is when Howland gives a frank assessment of the weight and conditioning status of center Joshua Smith — put simply, after nearly an entire offseason to get in shape, Smith is, according to his head coach, “the same.”
  4. The Lapchick Character Award’s 2012 recipients were announced on Monday with two of the most influential college basketball coaches in history honored along with one of the most revered in the women’s game (Cathy Rush) as well as the high school game (Morgan Wootten). CM Newton and Pete Newell both left their marks on college hoops in different ways, but few have questioned their character along with their contributions. California’s Newell was the one coach whom John Wooden had to get past to ultimately become John Wooden, and the legendary “big man” coach who retired at the absurd age of 44 is one of only three men to coach a team to an NIT title, an NCAA championship and an Olympic gold medal. Newton never cut the nets down as the head coach at Alabama or Vanderbilt, but his teams were always very good and he was instrumental in breaking the color barrier in SEC basketball both in terms of players (recruiting Wendell Hudson, the first African-American scholarship athlete at Alabama) and coaches (hiring Tubby Smith while acting as the athletic director at Kentucky). Both are deserving recipients, and they, along with Rush and Wootten, will be honored on November 15 in New York City during the 2kSports Classic.
  5. The UNC academic scandal took an ironic twist on Monday as transcript-outing victim Julius Peppers announced that he is donating $250,000 to North Carolina’s Light on the Hill Society Scholarship Fund in support of African-American students. Even when considering that this is his second contribution to the fund — he also donated $500,000 in 2009 — the timing here is certainly rich. When you consider that Peppers has earned tens of millions of dollars in his highly successful NFL career as a direct result of what may have been academic shenanigans to keep him eligible, his charity certainly seems like a wonderful return on the school’s investment. Furthermore, not even one week after the school made an egregious privacy error in throwing his academic chops to the wolves, Peppers still came through with the money. We’d probably suggest to the Martin Commission, given Peppers’ ongoing and convincing loyalty to the Tar Heel program, that they need not bother knocking on his door for additional dirt. You know, more than what his transcript already suggests.
Share this story

ACC Weekly Five: 08.20.12 Edition

Posted by KCarpenter on August 20th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: The ongoing saga of academic fraud at North Carolina continues as more details emerge, and frankly, things are just getting weirder. While Julius Peppers admitted that the transcript that was posted on the UNC website last weekend was his, he also offered a great deal of disgust at the gross breach of his privacy by the university. The university, after admitting that earlier reviews of academic problems at the school weren’t enough, hired an outside consulting and auditing firm to more thoroughly investigate the irregularities in the grades and transcripts of North Carolina’s student athletes. Hopefully, soon we will have some idea of what exactly has been going on with these student-athletes in Chapel Hill and for how long.
  2. Fayetteville Observer: Meanwhile, down the road, North Carolina State is dealing with an even stranger issue of athlete academic eligibility. Star recruit and Raleigh native Rodney Purvis missed his first few classes because he had not yet been cleared by the NCAA, which is still reviewing Purvis’ high school. While the NCAA guidelines don’t preclude a student from attending class, the guidelines mean that if Purvis for some reason was found ineligible, he would be unable to receive an athletic scholarship and would be forced to pay tuition to NC State out of pocket. Remember everyone: The NCAA wants student-athletes to receive a quality college education. Seriously. Stop laughing.
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory is looking forward to this year. In particular he’s excited about the impact of sophomore Julian Royal. Royal played better and better as the season rolled on, and apparently his strength and conditioning has Gregory excited about the potential for the coming year.
  4. ESPN: Make a note to yourself to get excited for the preseason tournaments in 2017. Nike has finalized a truly excellent list of teams for a pair of tournaments designed to honor Nike founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday. Considering Nike’s clout in the college basketball world, it’s unsurprising that many of the best teams in the country will be competing. The ACC representatives are, unsurprisingly, Duke and North Carolina. The two blue-bloods will find themselves pitted against the likes of Georgetown, Connecticut, Michigan State, Ohio State, and some other school called Kentucky. It might be a set of games. I suppose we will find out in five years.
  5. Boston Globe:  Gene DeFillipo, the athletic director for Boston College over the last 15 years, will be stepping down from his post in September. DeFillipo has been a steadying presence for BC, overseeing the rebuilding of the program after a gambling scandal devastated the football team and helping to oversee the move from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. During his tenure, BC claimed its fair share of NCAA titles, including an impressive four championships in ice hockey.
Share this story

Does Julius Peppers’ Transcript Put UNC in Danger of Severe Sanctions?

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 16th, 2012

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

Thanks to the inadvertent release of what appears to be a prominent former student-athlete’s academic transcript, the breadth and time frame of the UNC academic scandal involving its football team has been brought into clearer focus. On Sunday night, a partial grade summary bearing the name Julius Peppers, now a six-time Pro Bowl defensive end with the Chicago Bears, appeared on the University’s website. The transcript lists a GPA of 1.824, with nine of the 10 classes in which Peppers received a B– or higher – classes that helped preserve his eligibility– falling under the African and Afro-American studies program that’s long since marked a point of emphasis in the school’s investigation into possible academic injustices. In an internal probe that began in June 2010 following an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic wrongdoing within the football program, the school identified a four-year window (2007-11) during which former AFAM department head Julius Nyang’oro oversaw 54 impermissible classes, with violations ranging from forged grade reports to lack of teacher supervision to classes that, lo and behold, never actually existed. Peppers, who played reserve minutes on the Tar Heels’ 2000 Final Four team, majored in that tainted department. If the school confirms the validity of the released transcript, his participation on both the football and basketball teams in theory could be deemed retroactively invalid. More broadly, the transcript introduces the possibility that the academic misconduct within the AFAM department could have also involved the men’s basketball program and spans back more than a decade, preceding the initial four-year period highlighted by the school’s internal investigation.

The UNC basketball program may face sanctions for possible academic impropriety (Photo credit: Getty Images).

What began as a textbook improper benefits case now has the look of something far more nefarious. The NCAA, operating under its standard procedure, appeared to have delivered a decisive blow in March by docking UNC 15 scholarships over three years and issuing a one-year postseason ban to the football team. The school’s internal investigation revealed that was just the tip of the iceberg, though its focus – mostly football-centric in nature – remained fixed on a four-year period in which academic advisers steered student athletes into those 54 bogus classes. If Peppers’ transcript is authentic, there’s good reason to suspect the academic fraud began long before the school began investigating it. Perhaps more jarring is the legitimate prospect that more players from the basketball program partook in the illegal behavior, which means that, depending on the specifics of who, when and how each player was involved, the Tar Heels’ four most recent Final Four appearances (2000, 2005, 2008, 2009) are well within bounds for any potential NCAA or self-imposed sanctions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.16.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 16th, 2012

  1. As we’ve discussed in this space all week long, the Big East has a new negotiating team and a new commissioner, both brought on board with one clear goal in mind — to get the best possible television deal for its member institutions during the upcoming TV negotiation window. Mike Aresco was introduced as the new commish at the New York Athletic Club on Wednesday, and his overarching theme in his opening speech was one of stability and unity. With a ragtag group of schools playing different sports in different leagues all over the country, he certainly has his work cut out for him; but, the good news for Aresco’s vision of conference stability is that there aren’t all that many valuable and poachable schools left in his league. Only two-sport schools Connecticut (ACC) and Louisville (Big 12) could reasonably be expected to receive future offers, and although either would jump at the chance, at least Aresco will have an opportunity to put all the Big East’s financial cards on the table before those offers come to pass.
  2. Julius Peppers has been the topic du jour in the ACC this week, and prominent writers from around the country continue to weigh in on the depth and the breadth of the developing scandal. Mike DeCourcy is the latest to note that UNC absolutely must take the lead in thoroughly investigating and extensively reporting the situation, dating back as far as it needs to go (translation: even before 1998, if the evidence points in that direction). This statement says it all: “It is essential North Carolina commence the sort of comprehensive self-examination Penn State undertook in regards to the Jerry Sandusky scandal. For all the pain and embarrassment that resulted from the Freeh report, Penn State is much closer to recapturing its soul today than Carolina.” And therein lies the rub. Like Penn State before it, UNC has long been quick to tell anyone who will listen that it does things differently. The evidence that we’ve now seen suggests otherwise — Carolina must get its head out of the sand and show that they’re serious about finding the truth here, even if that veracity stains the very premise of sanctity on which the whole house was built.
  3. CBSSports.com’s survey of coaches has caused quite a bit of buzz over the past 10 days, but its most recent key question resulted in nearly as many different responses as their were respondents. Well, not really, but asking coaches an open-ended question about what rule they’d like to see changed was certain to produce a great deal of variance. The most popular response was a desire to reduce the 35-second shot clock to something approaching the NBA’s 24-second limit, but eight different answers received at least five percent of the vote. John Infante at the Bylaw Blog broke down each of the prominent responses (our favorite: “No postseason ban for APR: That tells me the penalty is effective.”) but his greater point is that college basketball coaches, unlike other sports, have no consistency in their message because they’re not even sure what they want as a group. He suggests that the NABC should make itself useful by putting together a comprehensive and logically consistent platform about how to regulate the sport of college basketball. It’s a good read, and makes too much sense for it to actually happen.
  4. Have you guys heard that Indiana is back? Apparently the students of IU have gotten the memo, as the Indianapolis Star reported this week that the school has already sold out its entire allotment of student tickets for the 2012-13 season. A total of 12,400 tickets were sold for the largest student section in the country of 7,800 seats, ensuring that every student ticket-holder will be able to attend at least 10 of the Hoosiers’ 16 home games. This is all fine and well, but at a school like Indiana with its extremely rich history and an ingrained statewide basketball culture, it shouldn’t take 10 years for student seats to sell out (the last time was 2002-03). We understand that demand always rises with winning, but the fact that it’s been since before the Iraq War started for the students to fully support their team is just shy of ridiculous. We expect fair-weather that stuff at places like Auburn or USC, not Indiana.
  5. In the 1982-83 and 1983-84 seasons, Jim Boeheim‘s Syracuse Orangemen matched up against Dean Smith’s North Carolina Tar Heels two times, and the results were not pretty. UNC spanked Boeheim’s team twice, coincidentally by the same score, 87-64, each time. A guard by the name of Michael Jordan led the Heels in both games — dropping 18/7/4 stls in the first game (in Charlotte), and 19/5 in the second (in Syracuse). Perhaps Boeheim has never forgiven His Airness for those dual beatdowns, as he recently gave an interview to Colin Cowherd on ESPN Radio where, in light of his experience with Team USA and LeBron James, he dared to say that he’s “not so sure anymore” that Jordan was the best player he’s ever seen. We’re only being silly about Boeheim holding a grudge against MJ 30 years later, but there’s no question that King James has had a fantastic 12 months — the question that needs to be answered, though, is whether he will sustain it.
Share this story

Morning Five: 08.15.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 15th, 2012

  1. In what seems to be a summer rite of passage involving several of the top recruits entering college basketball, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad is the latest and greatest elite prospect whose eligibility the NCAA is investigating. According to the LA Times — and unlike the inquiry into NC State’s Rodney Purvis (the organization is reviewing the credibility of his high school) — the NCAA ” is reportedly investigating financial dealings between Muhammad’s family and friends,” specifically involving Muhammad’s former high school assistant coach, Geoff Lincoln, and his brother, Benjamin Lincoln. Of course, an investigation like this wouldn’t be any fun without an AAU connection, so the NCAA is obliging by also looking into the funding of Muhammad’s summer team by a New York financial planner named Ken Kavanagh. What does all this mean? Probably not much — the financial dealings likely involved trips that Muhammad made to visit North Carolina and Duke during his recruitment (worst case: he repays the cost of the trips), and good luck getting anything concrete out of the financial planner. Still, it means that UCLA has chosen to hold Muhammad out of its upcoming trip to China, costing the Bruins valuable preseason time to get to know each other and build team chemistry. At least one commentator believes that Ben Howland might be cursed.
  2. From one piece of great news to another, the UNC academic scandal that not may or may not include former two-sport star Julius Peppers is getting uglier. And given what we’ve seen over and over and over again in this peculiar industry, it’s likely to get downright hideous. As an administrator you know that things are not going well when CBSSports.com’s Gregg Doyel focuses on your program, and his article on Tuesday blows up the entire athletic department with his description of UNC’s negligence as perhaps “the ugliest academic scandal in NCAA history,” and even suggests that the 200o Final Four banner should come down. Like Dana O’Neil before him, he also takes the NCAA to task for dragging its feet on a thorough investigation — perhaps they, like Doyel and most of the media, think that the revered Dean Smith is still running things in Chapel Hill? What we know is this: Public pressure is building on North Carolina to come clean with a comprehensive review of the entire department — basketball included — and as we’ve seen with the Peppers transcript (as bizarre a flub as we’ve ever seen), that means actually removing the veil of secrecy surrounding the program and allowing independent investigators to assess exactly what happened there. Louis Freeh is probably available.
  3. One day after announcing its partnership with Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures to handle its upcoming television negotiations, the Big East announced the hiring of CBS Sports executive Mike Aresco as its new commissioner heading into those talks. Conference realignment across the board has fostered an alarmingly shortsighted arms race environment where every actor involved seems to believe that pursuit of the almighty dollar is without question the only thing that matters. The Big East, with its recent loss of West Virginia and the pending exits of Syracuse and Pittsburgh, hopes that by highlighting its numerous large markets and continent-wide footprint, it will enable the league to secure a massive television deal that will rival other major conferences and provide some much-needed stability. Perhaps it will work, but we have to believe that eventually someone is going to figure out that market penetration — how many people are actually watching the games? — is far more important than the total size of it. Right?
  4. If you’re an unemployed head coach out there still fretting about the coaching carousel not holding a chair for you last spring, dust off that resume — Eastern Michigan’s position appears to be open as its head coach, Rob Murphy, is reportedly taking an assistant coaching job with the Orlando Magic. The 2012 MAC Coach of the Year led EMU to a 9-7 conference record in his only season, and with a couple of good transfers joining a strong returning core, bigger things were expected next season. No official sources have been cited, but Lehigh’s Brett Reed, Michigan State assistant Dane Fife, and former Utah head coach Jim Boylen were mentioned in the article as possible selections with Michigan ties.
  5. Two players who were not expected to play college basketball in 2012-13 appear to be heading back to school after all. BYU sophomore guard Damarcus Harrison was expected to begin his two-year Mormon mission this fall, but instead he has decided to transfer closer to home at Clemson. The 6’5″ guard had a solid freshman campaign in Dave Rose’s lineup, averaging 3/1 in nine minutes per game, but he contributed 14 points and five boards in two NCAA Tournament games and showed considerable promise. American University picked up some great news when former all-Patriot League forward Stephen Lumpkins announced that he was returning to school for a senior season after spending last year playing minor league baseball in the Royals organization. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Lumpkins averaged 13/8 and shot a healthy percentage from the field — the talented big man will be able to slide into a starting lineup that returns three key contributors from a team that contended for the PL title last season.
Share this story

ACC Weekly Five: 08.14.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on August 14th, 2012

  1. Raleigh News & Observer: NC State finished up its preseason trip to Spain with a 15-point win over CB Gran Canaria. The win means the Wolfpack head home undefeated. While Rodney Purvis couldn’t play as the NCAA reviews his eligibility, Lorenzo Brown was back from knee surgery sooner than expected and in time for all four games. CJ Leslie led all scorers with 19 in the final game and incoming freshman point guard Tyler Lewis finished with 14 points and eight assists. Probably more in response to the high expectations for this team, Mark Gottfried noted: “There were positive things even though we know we have a long way to go.”
  2. VirginiaSports.com: Speaking of preseason trips to Europe, Tony Bennett‘s squad is getting a head start too. The Cavaliers lost a heartbreaker with controversy to boot. Apparently, the scorekeeper gave AMW Team France an extra basket in the middle of a run that would eventually tie the game. To put things politely, Bennett wasn’t amused by the gaffe:

    “I understand when you come here, you’re going to get some questionable officiating — I can handle that — but what I don’t appreciate is when they take two points away from us. Two points in a game like that, that changes the whole game, and that’s frustrating, because we were there for the win, and that’s just not the way you do it. I don’t care if you’re international or in the States, you gotta keep the right score. But it’s a mistake, it was done, and I just want our guys to understand what the blueprint is for us to play competitive basketball.”

    Virginia went on to lose by four after a late run by AMW Team France.

  3. Associated Press: Important news out of Clemson this week. Tigers athletic director Terry Don Phillips announced he plans to retire next summer to enjoy more time with his wife. Phillips played an integral role in upgrading Clemson’s facilities and spearheaded the hiring of Brad Brownell (along with football coach Dabo Swinney). Keep an eye on names that pop up during the search process, as athletic directors are more important than most give them credit for — especially when it comes to rebuilding (or building in this case) programs like Brownell is trying to do.
  4. CBSSports.comCBS Sports drew some heat (along with plenty of page views) for its recent series “Critical Coaches” where they polled nearly 100 coaches on topics  like “Who is the most overrated coach in the country?” The answer? Roy Williams. Yep, the guy with two national titles in the last decade, to go with more conference championships than you can count with two hands between his time at Kansas and North Carolina. Jim Young of ACC Sports Journal has a thoughtful interpretation of the argument.
  5. ESPN.com: Surprising no one, Coach K added another gold medal to his resume as Team USA took down Spain and the Gasol brothers in the Olympics last week. Krzyzewski announced this would be his final Olympics, leaving his Team USA record an astounding 62-1. Unfortunately his dry humor didn’t translate as well to the international game as his coaching abilities, as a media member apparently thought Krzyzewski was serious when he stays out till 6 AM, “drunk as a skunk” because Team USA doesn’t really need much coaching.

EXTRA: In weirder news, North Carolina forgot to scrub former two-sport star Julius Peppers’ transcript and made it visible to the public. Needless to say NC State fans on PackPride.com found the transcript and went to work researching to confirm it was a real transcript. It’s hard to tell exactly what the repercussions of this will be, but suffice to say North Carolina’s academic issues may go back much further than previously thought.

Share this story

Morning Five: 08.14.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 14th, 2012

  1. After making numerous people mad over the weekend with its ‘top perceived cheater’ query of a sample of the nation’s college basketball coaches, CBSSports.com kept the hits coming on Monday with its follow-up question asking those same coaches whether everyone’s favorite Team USA head honcho, Mike Krzyzewski, has “earned a recruiting advantage” by virtue of his association with the star-studded Olympic squad. Note for the record that the group of writers did not ask if Coach K has a perceived recruiting advantage here — nope, they wanted to know if this is an actual, real-deal, verified by Visa advantage. Accordingly, 71 percent of the respondents affirmed that there is a definite recruiting advantage as a result of Coach K’s association with the Olympic team. On its face, in terms of name recognition and marketing/branding of the Coach K/Duke product with the best basketball players on the planet, the answer should have been 100% — this part is without question. But in terms of actual production on the recruiting trail, Coach K’s last top-rated class (as calculated by RSCI) was in 2002 (Shelden Williams, JJ Redick); prior to that it was in 1999 (Jason Williams, Mike Dunleavy, Carlos Boozer); and before that in 1997 (Shane Battier, Elton Brand, William Avery, Chris Burgess). Since 2006, the first full recruiting year after Krzyewski took over for Team USA, his recruiting classes have been good to great (#3, #3, #11, #8, #9, #2, #10), but none have matched the pinnacle that the Duke head coach was regularly signing a little over a decade ago. So, does Team USA give Krzyzewski an actual recruiting advantage? The intuitive answer is assuredly yes, but the counter-intuitive one — that it makes no difference, or egads, could be a bit of a detriment — certainly has evidence supporting it as well.
  2. The Big East may be on shaky legs as a BCS league these days, but its announcement of its engagement with Bevilacqua Helfant Ventures, a sports media business that most recently negotiated a $3 billion multi-platform deal for the Pac-12, shows that the league doesn’t see it that way. Starting on September 1, the conference will retain an exclusive 60-day negotiating window with ESPN, and after that, it can field offers from other networks. Clearly the league believes that its new and unprecedented bi-coastal setup will be valuable to somebody — they’re already touting the fact that the new conference footprint resides in 13 of the 50 largest television markets holding a population base of 32 million people (reportedly twice that of any other league). Of course, there’s no mention made of penetration into those markets (does anyone in Orlando really care about UCF?), or if anyone will care to watch a San Diego State – Rutgers game, but that’s why the expensive firm was brought in — to deflect those questions. One thing is certain: The bubble of collegiate sports properties is still blowing up, so don’t be surprised if a few months from now we’re all sitting around scratching our heads wondering how the Big East is worth more than the ACC.
  3. The UNC football academic scandal appears to have finally crossed over to the basketball program, at least tangentially. Former two-sport star Julius Peppers‘ academic transcript was (mistakenly?) published on the school’s website Sunday night, where some enterprising NC State fans found it and passed it around like wildfire on the Internet. The transcript is no longer on the site, but assuming it is a legitimate document, it appears that Peppers would not have been eligible to play football or basketball during much of the three academic years when he suited up at UNC. Many of the courses that made him eligible were in the now-infamous African-American Studies major which has been the focus of NCAA investigators. The question that is on everyone’s minds — and frankly it has not yet been satisfactorily answered — is whether the holy grail of Tar Heel basketball was substantially involved in these academic shenanigans (apparently dating back over a decade), and if UNC’s obstinance in thoroughly (and publicly) reviewing this problem represents willful obstruction to protect the program or something much less sinister. Whatever the case, if Peppers turns out to have been an academically ineligible player from 1999-2002, would that mean UNC’s 2000 Final Four (of which Peppers was a key contributor) would be vacated? We’re certain that NC State and Duke fans in the Triangle will stop at nothing to make that happen.
  4. With more schools taking international trips during the summer to build team cohesiveness combined with the ubiquity of worldwide media access and coverage, we should expect to hear increasingly more bizarre stories like the one involving Missouri in The Netherlands over the weekend. According to a school release, during the third quarter of a physical game against the Dutch National Team on Saturday, Frank Haith was ejected for arguing with a referee on what he perceived to be a no-call elbow to the head of freshman Stefan Jankovic. Fearful “for the safety of his players,” and perhaps overreacting a bit, Haith decided to pull his team off the court and call the game over at that point. The Dutch head coach was diplomatic in his response, stating that he “understood” why Haith stopped the game because his technical foul “so suddenly came out of the blue” during game action. As a new league entrant to the SEC next season, we hope that Haith realizes that he’s unlikely to get a single favorable call from January to March 2013 — so he’d probably do well to get used to it.
  5. Jumping to news that will please Missouri fans a little more, Bill Self’s Kansas team just finished its European exhibition tour and to say it went poorly might be putting it a bit too mildly. The Jayhawks finished the trip by losing its last two games to a French professional team, but the second game was interesting in that Self chose to “rest” his upperclassmen for the game’s entirety. This gave his remaining extremely young group of players, led by Perry Ellis’ 16/12, to take center stage, but we also wonder if Self wasn’t using the opportunity to send his veterans — Jeff Withey, Elijah Johnson, and Travis Releford — a clear message that he expects more from them in this, their senior, seasons. As he states in the linked interview, he was willing to live with the second short-handed loss, but he felt that the first loss was “inexcusable” and that his team is “not any good right now.” If we know anything about Self, he’s probably right; but he’s also without a doubt going to have the Jayhawks whipped into shape by January so that they’ll be right at the top of the Big 12 standings once again.
Share this story

09.14.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2009

In the last week or so, we’ve noticed that the days are distinctly shorter than they were, which means only one thing…  darkness.

  • What, no Matt Doherty?  Carolina celebrated its 100 years of basketball with a blowout extravaganza two Fridays ago featuring such UNC luminaries as Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Phil Ford, Larry Brown, Antawn Jamison, George Karl, Julius Peppers and a bunch of other dignitaries, both past and present.  The tribute video they presented at the beginning of the evening should be mandatory viewing for every recruit that steps into Chapel Hill (sidenote: 2010 #1 Harrison Barnes and several others were there), but the featured event was the scrimmage, nicknamed the “Professional Alumni Game,” where the White team (starters: Raymond Felton, Brendan Haywood, Marvin Williams, Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse) defeated the Blue team (Vince Carter, Jawad Williams, Dante Calabria, Sean May and Ed Cota) 113-92.  It sounds great and all, but it was the trotting out of that old Carolina/Dean Smith warhorse, the Four Corners offense, that just about made this writer puke.  Let’s sully one of the greatest collections of collegiate talent ever put together in a single place at a single time by reminiscing and celebrating one of the biggest abominations the game has ever witnessed.  For you youngsters, the 4C was largely responsible for the implementation of the 45-second shot clock in the mid-80s, and is widely ridiculed as one of the worst inventions of the modern game.  Bad, bad idea, Heels.  As another sidenote to this Carolina joyfest, did anyone else feel that MJ’s acceptance speech at the HOF induction last weekend was completely petty and mean-spirited?  From our cheap seats, it appears that more than one Jordan Myth was defused this weekend (h/t TBL).
  • Memphis Appeals.  Last week Memphis sent its timely notice of appeal to the NCAA based on the Derrick Rose Scandal, arguing that the Tigers’ 38 wins and NCAA Tournament runner-up appearance from 2007-08 should not be removed from the history books.  Among the findings that led to the penalties, the only one that Memphis is appealing is the violation involving Derrick Rose’s SAT score.  This is presumably because it is also the most difficult one to prove (cf. with Memphis getting cold-busted for providing illicit airfare and hotels to Reggie Rose).  The school, now represented by “NCAA defender to the stars” Mike Glazier, has thirty days to present its arguments to the NCAA Infractions Committee, and their argument is going to undoubtedly hinge on the seeming inconsistency of Derrick Rose being cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse prior to his freshman season only to be later deemed ineligible after the fact.  Sadly for Memphis, in this case and in the real world, what is an apparent inconsistency is incongruent with the fact that the justice system (and the NCAA) doesn’t work like that.  The bottom line is this: so long as the Clearinghouse made a good faith effort to determine the basis for Rose’s initial eligibility (and we presume it did), the revelation of later evidence indicting Rose’s SAT provenance has no bearing on the initial assessment.  The NCAA had no basis to believe that Rose had cheated on his SATs until the allegations surfaced after his freshman year.  The real-world analogy would be if the police did a cursory investigation of someone related to a crime and found no evidence to initially support their involvement, only to receive credible information a year later that the person investigated might have indeed committed the crime.  Rose was no more “cleared” than any of us are - there is no “get-out-of-jail-free” card that we can present in perpetuity; if additional information comes to light, it is entirely reasonable for conditions to change in response.  Furthermore, the fact that Rose then ignored three letters from ETS (who administers the SAT) questioning his score, and two other letters from the NCAA requesting an interview, does not help his case.  Unless he plans on showing up to the NCAA hearing on Memphis’ behalf with evidence to the contrary (LOLable), we’re afraid that Memphis is going to be forced to eat those 38 wins and the $600K they stand to lose here.  Maybe Josh Pastner could simply request that Rose write him a check?
  • Back To Renardo Sidney.  The NCAA stated last Friday that Mississippi St.’s Renardo Sidney is not certified to play this season because his family did not turn over the financial documentation that they requested as part of the investigation into how the Sidneys afforded to live in high-end homes in the LA area.  Or as they put it, Sidney is “not certified due to non response.”  The NCAA went on to say that if or when the Sidneys send the information requested (and not a stack of random papers they found in someone’s locker), then his certification will be re-evaluated.  What does all this mean?  Basically, the NCAA doesn’t want to get caught with its pants down again, as in the cases of OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose where they certified players as initially eligible only to watch as those same players danced on the NCAA Clearinghouse’s grave en route to the NBA.  Sidney’s attorney is threatening lawsuit, and we suspect that his argument “that the Sidney family has to establish the existence of non-violations” probably has some merit, but none of this may matter given we’re only two months from the first games and the justice system moves slower than molasses.  It’s unlikely that MSU will risk playing Sidney while the wheels of justice are turning simply because they don’t want a Rose giveback of all the Ws they’re anticipating this season.
  • Vegas Watch: Big Ten.  VW got his third installment of the major conference previews up today, and once again we were invited along for the peep show.  What’s interesting about the Big Ten ratings is that we all pretty much agreed that Purdue is the best team in the conference in 09-10, but (at least for our money) Michigan St. is the team more likely to do damage in the NCAA Tournament.  Another good exercise, and the league is looking at being way up – up to seven solid NCAA bids this season.  For the ACC and Big 12 ratings and discussion, see these posts.
  • Quick HitsSlam Magazine: finished its Top 25.  Arizona St.: more than just Harden and PendergraphParrish: why Butler is no Boise.   Goodman: 25 players you should know for 09-10, and his all-americans (John Wall for POY = bold).  Incredible Shrinking Center: Memphis’ Pierre Henderson-NilesJim Griffin: RIPJohn Pelphrey at Arkansas: agreedSeton Hall: extends Bobby Gonzalez to 2015Florida St.: haven’t we heard this song before?  Travis Ford: wow, how do you get a 10-year extension after one year on the job?  Larry Eustachy: Gillispie has a diseaseFreshmen: here’s the top 20 for 09-10Memphis: down to 8 scholarship playersBlue Ribbon: go ahead and order it.
Share this story