Morning Five: 07.06.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 6th, 2012

  1. It’s been an exceptionally quiet news week in college basketball, but some legal-related information has come out this week that doesn’t involve health care hype and hysteria. In response to the Bernie Fine scandal at Syracuse that broke last November, a Board of Trustees report released on Thursday found that Syracuse officials acted promptly when allegations against Fine were first reported to them in 2005, but they did not go far enough in reporting the information to law enforcement officials. This inaction, which included the possibility that if the allegations “turned out to be true, then the failure to have approached law enforcement at best exposed the university to harsh criticism, and at worst allowed a child molester to remain in place in the community without being called to account.” There’s a lot more detail in the story linked above, but the one thing we can all agree on is that we’re not alone in hoping the truth comes out on this story soon.
  2. Moving to a story that we hope is finally over for good, the US Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati ruled on Thursday that attorneys for convicted Rick Pitino extortionist Karen Sypheradvanced no arguments of merit on appeal” in her latest attempt to have her prison sentence overturned. Her arguments centered on whether she received a fair trial given the significant amount of publicity that the case engendered, but according to the three-judge panel, she failed to provide evidence that she had in fact received an unfair trial. Sypher will no doubt continue appealing the various federal courts on the basis of any number of frivolous constitutional claims, but her sentence goes through 2017 so she has plenty of time to figure out next steps. Who knows — maybe America’s least favorite justice, John Roberts, will have a chance to rule on Ms. Sypher somewhere down the line.
  3. It’s not a ruling from the legal world, but the NCAA fashions itself as judge, jury, and executioner anyway, so we’ll continue this theme. Just prior to the start of the July recruiting evaluation period next week, the NCAA barred four AAU ‘travel teams’ from involvement in its sanctioned events because of a “prohibited association” between three administrators and a coach with an agent named Andy Miller. Miller apparently sent an e-mail to the four men pushing and cajoling them to live up to their obligations in getting players to the NBA, and the NCAA somehow caught wind of it. The players on these four teams — the New England Playaz, Worldwide Renegades, Florida Rams, and SEBL Elite — are not prohibited from jumping to other teams in order to play in the events, but they’ll have to hustle to find openings over the weekend. Our stance on summer AAU basketball is well-established, but this is just another example of why it needs a major NCAA-led overhaul.
  4. One of the unique quirks of BYU basketball is that most of us sometimes forget that they have good players stashed away on missions overseas while the rest of college basketball is constantly trying to reload its talent base — it’s almost like a basketball safety valve of sorts. BYU rising sophomore Tyler Haws is one such example, having spent the last two years in the Philippines after a promising freshman season where he averaged 11/4 and shot 50% from the field. One of the peculiarities of Haws returning to NCAA basketball is that he is an exceptional free throw shooter, hitting 91.5% of his attempts in 2009-10. He is also the current owner of a streak of 48 makes in a row, putting him a little more than halfway to the NCAA Division I record held by Butler’s Darnell Archey from 2000-03. With a lot of downtime on his mission in basketball-crazy Philippines, maybe Haws used some of it to perfect his stroke to make a run at the record.
  5. From a player returning to college hoops after a two-year layoff to a head coach doing so after 24 years, Larry Brown is getting his legs under him at SMU this summer. In a recent interview with the Topeka Capital-Journal, the only coach to have ever won both a national title (Kansas) and an NBA title (Detroit Pistons) explained that: a) he wouldn’t have been offered the SMU job had Maryland’s Mark Turgeon not initially floated his name out there; b) top assistant Tim Jankovich approached Brown about leaving potentially his best team at Illinois State; and c) he doesn’t care much for the games themselves, rather preferring the teaching aspect of practices. This experiment at SMU is certainly going to make for an interesting storyline the next couple of seasons — we’d hate to suggest that a head coach with an all-time record of 177-61 (.744) in college might struggle, but his previous stops at UCLA and Kansas are much different animals than what they have down in the north side of Dallas.
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Morning Five: 04.07.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 7th, 2011

  1. Most of the news around college basketball yesterday was about players putting their names into the NBA Draft. Some were expected like Kyrie Irving while others were a bit more surprising like Scotty Hopson. Two teams–UNC and Kansas–appear to have done rather well yesterday as each saw a pair of players (John Henson and Tyler Zeller for UNC and Tyshawn Taylor and Thomas Robinson for Kansas) who many felt might put their names into the NBA Draft decide to stay in school for at least one more year. Both programs are still waiting for other players to announce their intentions, but should be on the short list of favorites to cut down the nets in New Orleans next April.
  2. Last week we mentioned the interest shown by Oklahoma in BYU coach Dave Rose although the Sooners subsequently signed UNLV coach Lon Krueger. It looks like the BYU administration took note as they signed Rose to a 5-year extension, which is an unusually long contract at the school for a basketball coach. BYU will not be the power it was this season in the near future, but it is seems like they are making basketball a priority and are trying to remain competitive in the post-Jimmer world.
  3. Yesterday, we expressed shock at the fact that Miami had not contacted Kansas State coach Frank Martin about becoming their head coach. As The Miami Herald notes money may be the reason they have not contacted Martin or Alabama coach Anthony Grant. The two coaches earn $1.55 and $1.8 million per year respectively, which is significantly above what Frank Haith made while he was there ($1 million per year). Miami has a history of low-ball offers for football coaches so we would be surprised if they broke the bank to get a basketball coach even he could turn around the program.
  4. You already saw our Way Too Early Top 25 and you will be seeing a many other similar rankings online in the next few weeks. Luke Winn and Jeff Goodman recently put out their pre-preseason rankings which are worth checking out to get a gauge on some lesser-known teams that you should keep an eye on for next season. Of course, you should realize that these are moving targets as players will be going in and out of the NBA Draft everyday so expect to see a lot of changes in the next month or two.
  5. Finally, you certainly remember Karen Sypher, the women convicted of trying to extort Louisville coach Rick Pitino after his very brief encounter with her. Yesterday she reported to prison in Florida, but her attorneys reportedly plan on filing appeals on her behalf so this probably will not be the last we hear of her.
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Breaking News: Karen Sypher Still Hates Rick Pitino

Posted by rtmsf on January 24th, 2011

It’s been some time since we’ve mentioned Rick Pitino’s old friend and flame, Karen Sypher.  You recall that the middle-aged blonde was convicted of extortion last fall for trying to bilk Pitino of millions of dollars and later accused the Louisville coach of raping her after the feds caught on to her crazy scheme.  She’s had a couple of sentencing hearings delayed already as her attorney earnestly (and we’re sure, honestly) tries to put together more evidence for a re-trial motion.  She’s now due for sentencing to a federal penitentiary on February 18 of this year.

All of this extra free time has apparently given Sypher more creative license to concoct additional stories involving Pitino as a horrible, horrible man.  In this weekend interview with Geraldo Rivera of all people, she states that Pitino threatened to have her four kids buried in the concrete of a bridge in New York if she refused to keep quiet about their tryst on the floor of Porcini’s and her subsequent pregnancy (that Pitino paid for her “health insurance”/abortion).  Apologies for the light volume on this clip, but it’s really worth hearing.

Well, we’ll give her credit for leaving no tried-and-true cliche unturned.   When all else is lost, you might as well go with the Italian/mafioso meme.  Perhaps next week, she’ll claim one of Pitino’s African-American players carjacked her and forced her at gunpoint to perform disdainful sex acts; and the week after that, she’ll be on Nancy Grace accusing a Pitino associate who looks like a leprechaun of breaking into her bedroom to “snatch her people up.”  There seems to be no line between fantasy and reality with this woman — any and all things are possible.

Can someone out there please make her go away?  Please?

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Two Minutes’ Hate: The RTC Rivalry Series — Kentucky vs Louisville

Posted by jstevrtc on December 31st, 2010

One of the best things about college basketball is the rivalries. Whether rational or not, rivalries usually manifest themselves through the players and fans of the involved schools in the form of true, unmitigated disdain for the other side. Because we love making trouble, and with apologies to Orwell, we give you the Two Minutes’ Hate, a series of posts in which we give fans/bloggers/writers of both sides of a given rivalry a chance to vent about the other side, with minimal but identical prompting from us. We encouraged them to cut loose and hold nothing back, and we’ll be doing this with various rivalries throughout the year as such games arise. If you want to nominate a rivalry or even offer a submission, email us at And remember, the published opinions are those of the respondents and not necessarily those of RTC, heh heh.

Today’s Rivals: Louisville and Kentucky

Coaches Crum And Hall Might Be Smiling Here, But BOY, Do These Two Teams Hate Each Other.

First, speaking on behalf of the Cardinals, we have Mike from the excellent Louisville site Card Chronicle. You can follow him on Twitter here. And you should, if for no other reason than because his bio describes him as the “fourth-ranked Chaucer scholar in the Ohio Valley.”

1. In your opinion, what was the Ville’s greatest win over UK?

The 1983 “Dream Game” without a doubt.

Even after Louisville had established itself as a national power, Kentucky refused to play them. The game finally happened in ’83 when the teams were paired in the same region and met in the Mideast Regional championship on March 26 in Knoxville. Despite a buzzer-beating shot by Jim Master to send the game into overtime, the Cardinals ran off 14 straight points in the extra period and prevailed, 80-68.

The U of L community erupted and quickly the governor, legislators and even the boards of trustees at both universities began to talk about a series between the two. Shortly thereafter, the announcement was made that Louisville and Kentucky would begin playing each other annually.

The game played a huge role in making the rivalry what it is today. If Louisville loses that day, the two might still not be playing annually.

2. What was the most painful loss?

Probably the ’04 game where Louisville led by 15 at half and as many as 18 before the Cats came all the way back and won it on Patrick Sparks‘ free-throws with less than a second left. Sparks walked twice. Neither were called. Louisville won the game.

Still, we went to the Final Four a few months later and UK didn’t.

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Pearl, Pitino Succeeding Through Tough Times

Posted by jstevrtc on December 13th, 2010

We hate the off-season. The only college basketball there is to watch is whatever we decided to keep saved on our TiVOs or DVRs from the previous season, we’re coming down from the buzz of traveling to see games during the year, and we know there are certain friends we won’t hear from for about six months. Like the rest of college hoopheads, we rely on occasional stories from certain topics to get us through — recruiting, the buildup to the NBA draft, the musical chairs game in the coaching world, and so on. Still, every summer feels longer than the last.

This off-season was different. In addition to the above, we had a little conference realignment, a decision on the fate of the Tournament (specifically, the number of tickets to the dance), and a couple of big-time coaches dealing with scandals from which they’ll most likely never separate themselves. The specter of the Karen Sypher scandal haunted Rick Pitino for months, and Bruce Pearl is still in the middle of dealing with the recruiting scandal he’s heaped upon the Tennessee program.

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Morning Five: 08.09.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 9th, 2010

  1. Jim Calhoun has to appreciate the support shown by many of his former players as the cloud of an NCAA investigation looms over Storrs, support that was evident on Saturday as many of his UConn family showed up to play in a benefit game for the Jim and Pat Calhoun Cardiology Center.  Heck, we’d pay $20 to watch Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Caron Butler and Rudy Gay in an alumni game, especially for a good cause.  The word “family” above is not used lightly, as Butler can attest to in speaking about his coach: “I’ll just sum it up like this.  He’s the closest thing to a father that I’ve ever had.”
  2. It just won’t go away.  Karen Sypher says her trial was unfair because Louisville is a small enough town to feel the influence of Louisville coach Rick Pitino.  “I know now there is no justice system,” she told the AP.  And she also says that there was evidence in her favor that her defense attorney didn’t use, and that it will come out later.  Sypher will be sentenced on October 27th.  We’re fine with Pitino facing no disciplinary action from U of L, since this is a family matter more than anything else, but we’re still evaluating AD Tom Jurich’s statement calling his coach a “grand ambassador” of the program…
  3. SI’s Luke Winn gave us stat nerds the warm-and-fuzzies when he broke out some serious numbers to predict some possible breakout players in the sophomore class for 2010-11 (a taste — Nebraska’s Christian Standhardinger makes the list).  His 2008 version yielded eerily accurate results to the point where we have our current crop of RTC interns investigating if there are some prop bets in Vegas on this topic.  And Luke, if you’re reading…yes, we’ll give you a cut.
  4. Seton Hall announced on Friday that Ole Miss guard Eniel Polynice will be joining the Pirates as a transfer student next season.  Polynice will not have to sit out the typical year for transfers, taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows early graduates to play their fourth season of eligibility elsewhere if their current school doesn’t offer postgraduate work in their field of study.  Polynice, a communications major who graduated in the spring from Ole Miss, sat out the 2008-09 season as a redshirt student.  He is a very nice late summer pickup for new Hall head coach Kevin Willard, who will need some experienced players to keep uber-gunner Jeremy Hazell under control and tutor a deep incoming class of freshmen.
  5. If we were the president of Florida International University (and just to be clear, we’re not), we’d immediately call head coach Isiah Thomas into our office for a sitdown about a little something called focus.  Coming off a 7-25 season that finished on the high note of nine straight losses, you would think that if Thomas were fully committed to his current job, he wouldn’t be taking on part-time work as a paid consultant for the NBA team he helped destroy, the New York Knicks   The Miami media, to put it lightly, is not amused.
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Sypher Found Guilty Across The Board, Pitino Image Repair Begins

Posted by jstevrtc on August 5th, 2010

Earlier today, the jury in the Karen Sypher extortion case found her guilty on all six counts with which she was charged by the government.  From KSR:

  • Three counts of extortion,
  • Two counts of lying to the FBI, and
  • One count of retaliating against a witness.

By our tally, that can result in up to 26 years in the hoosegow and $1.5 million in fines.  The sentence will be handed down within the next two months.

A couple of quick thoughts, here. You may recall that Sypher’s defense team did not bother to call any witnesses as part of their case.  This can only mean that her attorneys felt confident enough in the failure of the prosecution to get over that “reasonable doubt” threshold they’re required to achieve.  After an across-the-board guilty verdict, though, you certainly have to wonder about the radar and the handicapping abilities of that defense team.  Not only will she not be taking them on any trips out to Churchill Downs any time soon, but it’s conceivable that she could accuse them of ineffective assistance of counsel, a form of legal malpractice, and appeal this verdict.  This tactic rarely works, however, because even if your defense calls no witnesses at a trial where you’re found guilty, proving your counsel was incompetent is a very hard thing to do.  You’d pretty much have to have an attorney like the lawyer who went nuts and stripped naked during the deposition in the movie Michael Clayton to make that stick.

She can appeal, citing counsel's "ineffectiveness," but it's a huge stretch.

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Morning Five: 08.03.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 3rd, 2010

  1. Your Pitino/Sypher trial update…the biggest news from Monday was that Sypher’s ex-husband stated on the record that Sypher told him that she turned down a plea bargain because she wanted to “take Pitino [down] with” her.  The brilliance of this woman should not be understated, folks — she very well may end up imprisoned and penniless, while Pitino simply continues on about his business coaching his team and making millions of dollars (although she might counter with “15 seconds,” FTW).  To that end, CNNSI’s Dan Shaughnessy believes that Louisville should can Pitino for such a public embarrassment, while Seth Davis implores all of us to consider that, while Pitino is many things — including cad, adulterer and narcissist — he’s also a victim in this mess.
  2. Two former prominent collegiate point guards joined coaching staffs yesterday, with 1995 national champion Tyus Edney returning to his alma mater UCLA to join Ben Howland’s staff; and Duke basketball/Syracuse football star Greg Paulus joining Billy Lange’s staff at the Naval Academy.
  3. The fourth installment of the Flourishing Five finds Texas at #2 on the strength of Mack Brown and Rick Barnes’ programs.  That means that Florida will be #1 when the final installment is released later this week.  How do you guys feel about this?  Certainly we understand that the last five years have been phenomenal for both UF programs (titles in basketball in 2006 and 2007; football in 2006 and 2008).  But now, at exactly this moment in time?  UT hoops is  clearly ahead of Gator basketball, but can we say that UF football is right now that far ahead of Texas pigskin?  Not sure about that.
  4. Believe it or not, but practice has already started…at Kentucky.  And this isn’t some loophole that John Calipari has found in the NCAA rulebook, either.  Since UK is taking a mid-August trip to Windsor, Canada, the Wildcats get ten days to break in all of their new players over the next couple of weeks.  One player who won’t be joining the team on the Canada trip or at any point next year (according to Calipari) is Darnell Dodson, the top returning scorer on last year’s team (6.0 PPG).  Another projected top 25 team taking advantage of this mid-summer opportunity to get better is the Pittsburgh PanthersJamie Dixon’s team is in Ireland at the moment as part of a six-game trip over the next week-plus, and they’ve destroyed the two Gaelic teams they’ve faced so far.
  5. This is an interesting article by Pete Thamel at the NYT about World Wide Wes (aka William Wesley) in his newish role as an advisor for Creative Artists Agency (CAA).  There are questions as to the amount of access WWW will be able to have with blue-chippers now that he’s formally associated with an agency, but if we know anything about World Wide, he’ll probably figure out a way.
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Pitino’s Preparation Evidently Pays Off — The Cross-Examination

Posted by jstevrtc on July 30th, 2010

Thursday was the fourth day of the Karen Sypher extortion trial in Louisville, and it brought the cross-examination of Rick PitinoWe predicted yesterday that there would be some heated exchanges between Sypher’s defense attorney and the Louisville coach (not exactly going out on a limb, there), and that since he’s a master of preparation when it comes to coaching basketball, he’d be confident and ready to roll — or at least appear so — when it came time to talk about some harrowing and even downright embarrassing stuff, especially with an extra night to prep.  Our information below comes from the summaries written by Louisville’s Courier-Journal and the point-to-point breakdown and analysis at Kentucky sports blog (KSR).

Pitino started the day on the stand and was done by noon, totaling six hours on the stand between today and yesterday.  According to KSR, Pitino was an effective witness for the government/prosecution, though things did get a little testy between Pitino and Sypher’s defense attorney — who started his cross-examination by reading a quote from one of Pitino’s books (that’s cold!) — at a couple of junctures when the details of the fateful night at the Italian restaurant were discussed.  It does not, however, sound like there was any particular incident that resulted in huge verbal volleys or anger above what one would expect.  Pitino knows that he can’t allow it to appear as if the defense attorney is getting to him, and we’d expect that his skills at readying himself for opponents served him well.  Still, a few items from today’s witnesses caught our attention.

Tim Sypher testified today, and said things that helped and hurt both his former wife and Pitino.

First, there’s something we haven’t heard mentioned in any discussion, and that’s the fact that Pitino’s motivational speaking days are gone, and according to KSR he was pullin’ down anywhere between a grand to $40,000 per speech.  You could even assume that figure would have climbed if Pitino claimed a national title or a couple more Final Fours, so there’s no telling how much income Pitino cost himself because of a few drinks at a bar and a grave mistake involving a woman who, in our eyes (as we rely on the reports of others), is coming off  like she had an agenda all along.  Mind you, all we’ve heard so far is the prosecution’s case.

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Morning Five: 07.29.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 29th, 2010

  1. Fifteen seconds to infamy.  Rick Pitino took the stand yesterday and will likely do so again today in the extortion trial of Karen Sypher in Louisville.  The twitterati are all over this in a big, huge, ridonkulous way.  Like here, or here, or maybe here.  We’re thinking that perjury where the only person on earth who could impeach you is also the defendant might have been a better option.
  2. Good news from Vegas as West Virginia head coach Bob  Huggins was released from the hospital yesterday.   In less good news, former Missouri State, St. Louis and UNLV head coach Charlie Spoonhour is at Duke University hospital waiting on a lung transplant.  He is on the list, and we’re hopeful that he gets the procedure that he needs, as we’ve always been a fan of his.
  3. And even sadder news from Memphis, as the body of former Tiger all-american Lorenzen Wright was found in a wooded section of the city yesterday nine days after a 911 call went out from his cell phone followed by at least ten gunshots.  He leaves behind six children and a legacy of being a great father and never having a harsh word for anyone.  RIP, Lorenzen.
  4. On Tuesday, Seth Davis gave us the best of his interviews with eleven college coaches about next season; yesterday he followed it up with part two which consisted of his assessments of various college and high school players that he saw play in Las Vegas last week.  The truth is that few of the returning players that Davis saw seemed all that impressive (Kyle Singler and Shelvin Mack excepted).
  5. We admit that we know as much about NASCAR as we do about geophysics, but Jim Boeheim and driver Tony Stewart enjoyed a shooting contest at the Melo Center on the campus at Syracuse University yesterday.  Boeheim quipped about his penchant to speed, but you can watch the whole interview for yourself below.
  6. Boeheim and NASCAR Star Tony Stewart

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