SEC Morning Five: Opening Night Edition

Posted by Gerald Smith on November 7th, 2011

  1. Feeling a bit more chipper and joyful than usual? It wasn’t that extra hour of sleep Sunday morning; it’s because today is the start of the 2011-12 basketball season! Tonight Mississippi State will face Eastern Kentucky in a game that actually counts! Tonight’s untelevised matchup is part of a regional round of play for the 2011 2K Sports Classic. Even though you can’t see the Bulldogs play until their ESPNU appearance against Akron on Wednesday, your basketball-loving soul should be soaring.
  2. At long last, the adoption is official: The SEC has new brothers in the Missouri Tigers. The latest school to be nabbed in SEC Expansion 2011: ALL YOUR TEAMS ARE BELONG TO US, Missouri made the official announcement with SEC Commissioner Mike Slive yesterday. Slive said that effective July 1, 2012, the Tigers would compete in the SEC East division. Parting is not such sweet sorrow for the Big 12: Interim commissioner Chuck Neinas said in a statement that Missouri’s decision was, “disappointing… I personally believe this decision is a mistake.” By leaving the Big 12, the long-standing rivalry game between Mizzou and Kansas may be dropped.We hope that Jayhawks and Tigers can overcome their differences and continue the Border War Border Showdown.
  3. But why stop at just 14 teams? That’s what Kentucky coach John Calipari has been asking this whole time of SEC Expansion. Coach Cal told ESPN’s Andy Katz that the SEC should just go ahead and grab two more teams for a total of 16 since he expects other major conferences to do the same. We’re not for sure which schools would be the next two schools to join the SEC since the Big 12 & Big East have raised their conference exit fees. The Big East is also attempting to force West Virginia to fulfill its 27-month exit period. Perhaps the SEC should just wait until things settle down before grabbing another group of teams.
  4. There is one place that is not expanding currently in the SEC: basketball rosters in the state of Mississippi. Ole Miss will be without the services of freshman guard LaDarius White until at least the end of the fall semester. White has not met NCAA academic standards and will be ineligible for competition until he’s brought his grades back up. Mississippi State’s Kristers Zeidaks was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for the entire 2011-12 season and the first 11 games of the 2012-13 season. The suspension is two games longer than the one imposed on current MSU forward Renardo Sidney for when he had to sit out the entire 2009-10 season.
  5. One roster change may be imminent in the former SEC East. As we mentioned Wednesday morning, Kentucky sophomore Stacey Poole is considering a transfer to another school. Poole sat out of the Wildcats’ exhibition game last week but remains on campus. Theoretically if Poole can complete his coursework for the fall semester he will become eligible for basketball in the spring semester of 2012-13 and have two more seasons of eligibility. The 6’4″ guard is behind Doron Lamb, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Darius Miller on the Wildcats’ depth chart. For his part Kentucky coach John Calipari said he would support Poole even if he decides to transfer: “I don’t blame him,” Calipari said. We hope for either a happy ending of Poole’s career at Kentucky or a happy new beginning.
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Morning Five: 11.04.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 4th, 2011

  1. The biggest news of Thursday related to a player who is still a year away from actual collegiate game action. Mitch McGary, a 6’10″ power forward who has been desscribed as “Tyler Hansbrough on Red Bull,” committed to Michigan on Thursday. RSCI has him rated as the #3 overall prospect in the Class of 2012, and his range is between #2 and #5, so it’s not like there’s much disagreement on the ridiculous talent of this guy. An Indiana native, he’s certainly someone that not only his other two finalists — Duke and Florida — would have liked to have nailed down, but the fact that John Beilein’s Michigan program was capable of invading Hoosier territory to grab an elite talent like McGary is demonstrative. IU won’t be truly ‘back’ until prep players like McGary are theirs to lose, and at least one national writer is sold on UM as a program on the verge of greatness again.
  2. Tough news on Thursday from Virginia Tech, as hard-luck case JT Thompson reportedly tore his ACL for a second time in two seasons this week. Granted, last year it was his right ACL and this year it was his left, but the point remains the same: Instead of a comeback recovery season for Thompson as a fifth-year senior, he’s faced with another long year of rehabilitation and recovery as we head into the season. Thompson’s injury doesn’t necessarily put the Hokies into a precarious position with respect to the bubble, but as usual for the team from Blacksburg, it doesn’t help either. Then again, it wouldn’t be a Seth Greenberg team unless it was 18-12 and sitting on the bubble on Selection Sunday, so although we wish Thompson all the best on his recovery, we can’t say that we’re surprised.
  3. One week after announcing an optional initiative that will allow major conferences an opportunity to provide $2,000 per student-athlete to ‘fill the gap’ between the cost of a full scholarship and its incidentals, NCAA president Mark Emmert was quick to say on Thursday that such a stipend was not “pay for play.” No matter where you fall on this issue, we think that everyone can agree that opening up this Pandora’s box is equitable in name only — the power conferences are those who ultimately stand to benefit. Imagine if everyone in America were offered a fantastic deal of a brand new Maserati well below list price of only $50,000! Well… you see the point.
  4. Speaking of Emmert’s organization, it wouldn’t be the NCAA without preseason suspensions and Mississippi State is once again on the wrong end of a major delay in one of its key players actually suiting up. The good news for Rick Stansbury is that MSU appears to have Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie ready to hit the floor this season, but they will do so without the backup support of Kristers Zeidaks, a Latvian forward whom he would have liked to have had on his bench. Zeidaks will essentially suffer the Deniz Kilicli rule in that he must sit out a substantial number of games before the NCAA will deem him eligible. In this case, Zeidaks will miss the entire upcoming season and the first 11 games of the 2012-13 season if he ever desires to play college basketball. The issue is that he competed against a professional club team in Europe and must apparently pay his penance with the NCAA for doing so.
  5. Truth. Spoken. Alexander Wolff’s article this week on the complete irrelevance of college basketball on decision-making among the taskmasters of collegiate sports is both sickening and enlightening at the same time. Nearly twenty years ago, Wolff followed up the greatest college basketball game ever played with perhaps the greatest college basketball article ever written, “The Shot Heard Round the World.” What the piece lacked in titular form — much like the game itself (most people do not realize that Duke was a HEAVY favorite over Rick Pitino’s Wildcats that evening in Philadelphia) — it made up for in tone and reverence. There is no such reverence in an era where regal programs such as Kansas, St. John’s and Georgetown are thrown to the wolves for the sake of football dollars. While Wolff clearly reminisces about a bygone era where Jayhawks, Johnnies and Hoyas mattered, he also recognizes that, in some ways, the college hoops overlords brought this on themselves. Read it for yourselves.
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