Understanding the Key Difference Between Dez Wells’ and Michael Dixon’s Transfer Cases

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 5th, 2013

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

When Dez Wells was cleared to play for Maryland last season after transferring from Xavier without sitting out the customary holdover year, a precedent was set. A player accused of sexual assault and expelled from his former university not only bypassed legal prosecution entirely – he managed to cut through the NCAA’s thorny web of restrictions to earn a waiver and essentially forward his college hoops career without missing a beat, unencumbered by the questionable circumstances surrounding his departure. Wells was painted as the victim of a false accusation; when the NCAA heard his request, it was sympathetic to the impassioned backing of a local prosecutor who publicly blasted Xavier school brass for unfairly bringing down the iron fist on Wells. There was also the suspicion, true or not, that Xavier was using Wells to demonstrate its hardline stance against sexual impropriety on campus, an issue the university had received no small measure of scrutiny for in the months leading up to the Wells incident. The whole saga – which, thanks to Wells recently filing a lawsuit seeking damages for Xavier’s allegedly specious expulsion of him, continues to percolate in the backdrop to the sophomore guard’s burgeoning stardom at Maryland – seemed nebulous and sinister and sketchy. It was a unique case, and it lay the groundwork for yesterday’s news from CBS Sports columnist and Memphis hoops informant Garry Parrish that former Missouri guard Michael Dixon – suspended and dismissed from the Tigers last November after a second allegation of sexual assault – had been granted a waiver to play right away this season.

It's important to understand the differences between Dixon's situation and Wells' (Getty Images).

It’s important to understand the differences between Dixon’s situation and Wells’ (Getty Images).

All summer, as people speculated about Dixon’s chances of being cleared to play, they pointed optimistically to Wells’ case – as if the same logic absolving Wells of potential NCAA punishment would lead to Dixon being granted the final season of college hoops he no doubt wanted to play. That’s how case law, the legal philosophy underpinning the American judicial system, works. A precedent is set and similar cases are adjudicated in a manner compatible with previous decisions. It’s the general idea here, too, but there’s one crucial distinction between Dixon’s and Wells’ cases that everyone seems to be glossing over. Wells, like Dixon, eluded a criminal charge, but he was also defended loudly and bombasitcally by a local prosecutor. Reasoned legal officials were behind him the whole way, blasting Xavier for what looked like school administrators using a high profile student-athlete to prove, once and for all (even if it meant overstretching their punitive reach), that sexual malfeasance would not be tolerated on Xavier’s campus. Wells was defended vehemently and unconvincingly – it was impossible not to get the impression, given the reaction from court officials, that Xavier had overstepped its bounds.  Then there’s Dixon, who – let’s be clear – likewise avoided criminal punishment. Here’s the key point of delineation: After Dixon was kicked off the team in November, Missouri officials did not speak fondly of (and certainly never came to his defense) Dixon’s conduct when interested schools came calling about the possibility of adding Dixon for his senior season. One unnamed Division I head coach, in fact, told ESPN’s Jason King in June that Tigers’ athletic director Mike Alden “shredded him [Dixon] to my AD.” Meanwhile, law enforcement was notably silent on the matter – neither condoning nor speaking out against Missouri’s decision to dismiss Dixon.

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Morning Five: 08.09.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 9th, 2012

  1. International basketball has a number of differences from the US game, ranging from the legal goaltending rule to the trapezoidal lane to a much higher tolerance by officials of cheap shots during game action (see: Anthony, Carmelo vs. Argentina). While Team USA’s core group of players has gotten used to FIBA rules by now, Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks are learning on the fly while they’re touring around Switzerland and France. According to this Lawrence Journal-World report, in KU’s first game on Tuesday night, Swiss forward David Ramseier lost his s#&% after a technical foul call went against him in the second quarter. From Bill Self: “He went nuts. He went absolutely nuts. I’ve never seen that. I saw Bill Romanowski do it in football one time, and I saw Roberto Alomar do it in baseball one time. But this guy went and actually did it twice. He’s going after the official and did it twice.” A physical assault that may have resulted in expulsion from the team (or at least a suspension) in America apparently held no weight overseas — Ramseier was back in the Swiss lineup on Wednesday. For what it’s worth, KU won both exhibition games but not without working for it; the Jayhawks outlasted the Swiss team by three points on Tuesday and four points on Wednesday.
  2. Moving stateside to poor treatment of officials, the NCAA on Wednesday publicly reprimanded Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin for his “profane and abusive language toward a game official” during UC’s Sweet Sixteen loss against Ohio State last March. The NCAA had previously censured Cronin for this same incident, but UC had appealed it on his behalf — that appeal was denied. For the record, Ohio State was tallied with 11 total fouls in that game versus 21 for the Bearcats, resulting in 27 free throw attempts for OSU (making 19) against eight for UC (making five). That 14-point difference in foul shots made essentially accounts for the difference in the game (81-66) — no wonder Cronin was so hot. Does anyone know what he actually said to warrant such a strong reprimand?
  3. CBSSports.com has been crushing it this week with its series revealing what coaches really think about a number of topics. We learned Tuesday that Temple’s Fran Dunphy is considered the most underrated head coach in the land, a fact not too surprising considering how well his teams have done at both Pennsylvania and now Temple. On Wednesday, the most overrated head coaches were listed and the “winner” is a man who 98% of programs around the country would love to have on their sidelines — North Carolina’s Roy Williams. In nine years at UNC, he’s won two national titles and taken the Heels to three Final Fours and six Elite Eights. Everyone knows that he always has great talent at his disposal, but come on… should Williams have gone to six Final Fours and won four titles in the same period — would that make him accurately rated? Rick Barnes, the second-place “winner,” on the other hand…
  4. While on the subject of Roy’s alma mater, ESPN.com‘s Dana O’Neil wrote a piece Wednesday excoriating the NCAA for its seemingly (ok, definite) inconsistency in refusing to further investigate North Carolina for an academic scandal featuring athletes getting pushed into certain courses for easy As. As she clearly writes in the article, it’s certainly no secret that college athletes and students alike know where to find the easiest professors and courses, but there’s a clear distinction between “equal-opportunity baloney classes” and those that exist as fraudulent academic portals for athletes (Jim Harrick, Jr., on line two). She correctly points out that the NCAA would have no problem calling such grades into question at the high school level; but, when it involves its member institutions, it says it has no jurisdiction? It sounds like a really weird mandate, but Robbie Pickeral takes the time to explain in detail how the NCAA defines the issue: If players are clustering in certain classes as a result of academic-related counseling, then the NCAA defers to the university in handling it. If players end up in those courses as a result of the athletic department steering them there, then and only then does the NCAA get involved. What’s left unsaid here, of course, is what happens when there’s an unspoken pressure — even a wink/nod agreement, perhaps — for academic counselors to push players to those classes in the spirit of what’s best for the university (largely influenced by UNC sports).
  5. While we’re piling on the NCAA today, we may as well use this opportunity to check in on the Ed O’Bannon antitrust lawsuit against the organization and its licensees regarding the ongoing usage of his and other players’ names and likenesses in video games, published materials and so forth. The three-year old case is working its way through the system, but on Monday the O’Bannon group of plaintiffs convinced a judge to agree with them that the NCAA must “turn over information relating to revenue that its members receive from broadcast television, radio and Internet rights as well as reports tied to income from sponsorships, licensing, sales of advertising.” Clearly this sort of information is highly sensitive, but it’s a key victory for the athletes in that it shows that their case is meritorious enough for a federal judge to require the NCAA to release such documentation. In a nutshell, this case isn’t going away.
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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: 05.17.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 17th, 2012

  1. Keep moving along. Nothing to see here. That was the stance of ACC commissioner John Swofford on Wednesday in reference to the earth-rumblings regarding Florida State’s rather public dalliance with the Big 12. Taking part in the ACC spring meetings in Amelia Island, Florida, this week, Swofford said that he had spoken with FSU president Eric Barron there and had enjoyed several “positive” conversations which clearly leads him to believe that the Tallahassee school is sticking around. Public statements from officials in positions of power are virtually meaningless these days — especially when it comes to this topic — but we really don’t see Florida State leaving the ACC for a few million dollars when they’d be ceding so much of their existing power to Texas as a result.
  2. Better late than never, but the NCAA announced yesterday that Washington, DC, would become the site of the 2013 East Regional during next year’s NCAA Tournament. Usually the regionals are well settled at this point in time, but reports suggest that the NCAA ran into contractual issues trying to lock up Madison Square Garden (or another NYC-area site) for next year’s tournament. The Verizon Center in downtown DC has served as an NCAA Tournament site several times in the previous decade, and its convenient location built on top of a Metro station makes getting to and from the venue a snap. The other three regional sites in 2013, which have been settled for some time now, are the Staples Center in Los Angeles (West), Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (South), and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (Midwest). Where are you headed?
  3. How much is an elite college basketball head coach worth? USA Today reported on Wednesday that Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski was paid $7.2 million by the university for his work in the calendar year 2010. According to their research, Coach K’s total compensation that year represents the second-highest total by a head coach (basketball or football) since the publication started tracking the figures in 2006 (Rick Pitino earned $8.9 million in 2010-11). K’s total in 2010, where he no doubt met a number of incentives for winning the national championship, blew his $2.0 million base salary up to nearly four times that amount. When you add in Krzyzewski’s corporate sponsorships to that total, you begin to see that the Duke head coach is competitive with some of the sport’s best-paid athletes in terms of compensation.
  4. While on the subject of Krzyzewski, he announced earlier this week that this summer’s Olympic Games in London would be his last as the head coach of Team USA. There’s no question that Coach K has accomplished a couple of important things as the CEO of the men’s national team. First and foremost, he used his otherworldly player management and motivational skills to encourage (at the time) very young players like LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul to play together and win a gold medal as a selfless unit (both in the Beijing Olympics and the 2010 World Championships). This was no easy task, as the 2008 Redeem Team earned its name after the disastrous bronze medal performance in Athens from the 2004 team. The second thing he was able to do was to satisfy his appetite for coaching the very best players in the world, something that he had flirted with a couple of times previously. This allowed him to stay in his rightful place in college basketball at Duke where he belongs, rather than moving to the NBA for a certainly less-fulfilling experience. Gregg Doyel writes that Coach K was able to do something that not even NCAA/NBA champion Larry Brown could do — keep world-class professional athletes hungry and motivated — and he questions whether the next guy is likely to do the same in 2016.
  5. Former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine’s wife, Laurie Fine, announced at a press conference on Wednesday that she will sue ESPN for libel based on the organization’s reporting that (she claims) made her appear as a monster who allowed her husband to molest children. Fine said during the presser that her life has been “ruined” by these allegations to the point where she can no longer go out in public anywhere in central New York. ESPN came out with a response immediately afterward stating that they stand by their reporting. One of the interesting questions that will help define the course of this claim is whether Fine is considered a “public” personality as the wife of the former SU assistant coach. Public figures face a much more difficult threshold to prove libelous claims against them, whereas private figures stand a much better chance. We won’t speculate on how this case might turn out, but the validity of her entire claim may turn on that argument.
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Cincinnati (Allegedly) Kicks Off Nightclub Season in Strong Fashion

Posted by rtmsf on May 14th, 2012

It’s one of the resolute truths in big-time college basketball. Coaches will tell you that if they can just keep their players on campus, preoccupied with attending classes and getting better each day in the gym, that’s more than half the battle. The most difficult part of keeping them out of trouble is when there is downtime — idle hands are the devil’s plaything and all that. You see it every offseason. The news blotter explodes with player run-ins with the law twice a year — the first period of bad conduct is in April and May, after practices have ended and the semester/quarter is winding down. The next is in August and September, when guys are back on campus but not yet fully committed to practice and school obligations.

Given UC's History, Why Would We Give This Group the Benefit of the Doubt?

Dating back to the Bob Huggins era, Cincinnati is a program whose players have managed to find trouble year-round. Art Long’s infamous fracas with a police horse occurred 17 years ago this month, but other UC players from Donald Little’s kidnapping to Cheikh Mbodj’s head stomp have continued to sully the reputation of Bearcats basketball regardless of time of year. If you believe the latest police report involving UC players submitted Sunday morning by a bouncer at a downtown nightclub, a group of unidentified players “punched and kicked” Brian McLucas after he asked them to leave. From the Fox19 report:

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Morning Five: 12.15.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on December 15th, 2011

  1. In a recent interview with a local radio station, Purdue coach Matt Painter had some interesting things to say about last weekend’s Xavier-Cincinnati brawl. He laid a considerable amount of blame on the officials working the game for allowing things to escalate to the point of on-court mayhem (“experienced officials and guys who have control of games, they handle it, take care of it early and it’s not an issue […] to me, it was avoidable.”), but he also took some candid shots at XU’s players for their physical style of play and running mouths. “Right away, from watching film, they talk. They talk a lot. That was one of the first things we talked about in the scouting report (to our players) was don’t get caught up in that. In the game, I’m talking to officials about their guys coming running on the court and (bumping into, pushing) our guys coming off a time out and the referees look at me like I’m crazy. I go back and watch the film, and it’s easy to see and they just ignored it.” Cincinnati has rightfully taken the brunt of this week’s criticism for its role in the brawl, and much of the associated vitriol with UC well predates the Mick Cronin era, but if you listen to Painter, maybe fans and media should take a closer look at how the Musketeers are composing themselves on the court too.
  2. Well, at least he didn’t shove a guy to the ground, instigate a full-on brawl between two teams, and subsequently refer to his squad as a bunch of ‘gangstas’ and talk about ‘zip[ping] ‘em up” when discussing the other team. No, New Mexico State guard Christian Kabongo (cousin of more-heralded Myck, at Texas), is guilty of grabbing his crotch area twice during a recent game against UTEP and has been suspended indefinitely as a result of his transgression. Kabongo is a significant loss to the Aggies, even in the short term, as he brings averages of 16/4/4 APG to the table for Marvin Menzies’ team. Just imagine how long he’d have to sit out if he was any better.
  3. With news Wednesday that the Hamilton County (OH) prosecutor will not pursue criminal charges stemming from last weekend’s brawl between Cincinnati and Xavier, it appears that we’re finally putting this ugly incident behind us. Had charges been filed, they would have most likely come against Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates and Cheikh Mbodj for their respective punch and stomp to the face/head of Xavier center Kenny Frease. But prosecutor Joe Deters (a law enforcement name if ever there was one) said that he was satisfied that Frease’s recent outreach to Gates was met with a subsequent apology and, among other factors, his mea culpa contributed to Deters’ decision to not pursue the case. Historically speaking, US criminal law as a general rule has shied away from imposing jurisdiction on athletes during the bounds of competition, but there have been some precedents, particularly in the NHL, where that is not the case.
  4. While on the subject of legality, the NCAA‘s new rule allowing conferences to offer $2,000 stipends to next year’s recruits is in jeopardy after 97 of the 345 Division I institutions have signed a petition that will force the organization into a reconsideration of the measure at its upcoming January meetings. If 28 more schools sign the petition in the next 11 days to get to 125 institutions, then the legislation will be automatically suspended until further review or modification. Perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the support for rescission is reportedly coming from the non-BCS football schools whose budgets are far below its peers who can better afford up to a $2 million annual price tag for its scholarship athletes. As we wrote a couple of months ago when this news first came out, “this policy initiative could be another step toward the permanent stratification of college basketball between the haves and have-nots.” This petition to the NCAA from the have-nots clearly bears this out. If you’re interested in more analysis on this topic, USA Today‘s Christine Brennan skewers the idea in her commentary published Wednesday.
  5. SI writers Seth Davis and Luke Winn are going a little crazy with the “breakout” players angle this month. Recall that last week Davis published his list of 10 breakout sophomores; this week he’s decided to give us his list of eight breakout juniors (plus a mailbag). Not to be outdone, Winn comes correct with his list of five breakout seniors! If we see an article on breakout graduate students next week, we’re coming to the Sports Illustrated offices and with a sole intent of burning the place down. All kidding aside, we might have added juniors CJ Harris (Wake Forest), Chase Tapley (San Diego State) and Isaiah Canaan (Murray State) to Davis’ list, and Jae Crowder (Marquette) and Noah Hartsock (BYU) to the Winn’s. Give both pieces a read and see what you think.
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Morning Five: 11.01.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 1st, 2011

  1. November. Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and the first month of the college basketball season.   With only six days remaining until the opening of the 2kSports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, it’s time to get serious again, folks. If you’re the type of person who loves college basketball at your core — you possess the kind of admiration for the game that leaves you empty during its many months of summer hibernation, read this season’s first post from Kyle Whelliston at The Mid-Majority. There’s something in there that you will relate to — guaranteed. And if not, how many times will you read a college basketball article that slyly references The Sundays? Glad to have you back in action, TMM.
  2. The AP released its preseason All-America team Monday afternoon, and the only surprise among the group was how completely unsurprising it was. The first team consists of UNC’s Harrison Barnes, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor, Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb, and Kentucky’s Terrence Jones.  Taylor is the only senior of the five-man team; the other four are sophomores, all of whom could have been high selections in the NBA Draft had they chosen to declare last spring. Barnes received 63 of 65 votes, leading Gary Parrish to suggest that the two voters who left him off the team should account for his omission. It doesn’t bother us that much — let’s be honest, Barnes is really good, but he isn’t Ralph Sampson after two consecutive NPOYs — but keep in mind that last year at this time, Kemba Walker was largely considered a talented but inconsistent gunner not on par with preseason first-teamer Jacob Pullen. We know how that turned out.
  3. The Big East‘s magical mystery tour to irrelevance is set to continue today with multiple sources reporting that the conference will announce the addition of six new members at its annual meeting in Philadelphia. Prepare yourself for this murderer’s row on the hardwood: Central Florida, SMU and Houston will accept invitations to the conference in all sports, while Boise State, Navy and Air Force are presumed ready to accept in football only. With the league on the verge of losing powerhouses Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, consider us rather unimpressed with the league’s “replacements.” If Louisville ultimately ends up leaving for the Big 12 and Connecticut finds its way over to the ACC, the serious basketball schools like Georgetown, Villanova, Marquette, St. John’s, Providence and Notre Dame would actually be better served to make a few calls to Butler and Xavier and initiate the dream of Dave Gavitt in a post-apocalyptic way.
  4. Speaking of West Virginia, the Morgantown school has filed a civil suit in state court to get out of its contractual obligation to stay with the Big East for another two years as it transitions to the Big 12. WVU would like to leave as soon as next summer, and by taking its case to the courts under a specific claim of “direct and proximate result of ineffective leadership and breach of fiduciary duties to the football schools by the Big East and its Commissioner.”  Ineffective leadership — ouch. Big East commissioner John Marinatto responded to the shot across his bow by citing the party line about his conference’s “legal options” and so forth. What the league’s insistence on keeping the three defectors around longer comes down to is that it needs to stay at a minimum of eight football schools in order to keep its auto-bid to the BCS — if the league loses Pitt, SU and WVU prior to making its replacements, then its bid becomes more tenuous (although the FBS rules state that any eight schools will do). If they all left tomorrow, the league would have five — UConn, Cincinnati, Louisville, South Florida and Rutgers. Big East football — the gift that keeps on giving… and giving… and giving…
  5. Monday was a big day in the recruiting world, as we get closer to the early signing period later this month. Arizona received a commitment from seven-foot center Kaleb Tarczewski (how did Coach K not get this guy?), and the gurus are already projecting Sean Miller’s third class as the top-rated in the country. After a downswing in talent in recent years, the Pac-12 may be on the verge of a player infusion rivaling the draftable talent it had on hand in the late 2000s — as we discussed on our Pac-12 microsite Monday, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA and even new member Colorado are seeing returns on the recruiting circuit that have been missing lately. Will it pan out?
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Morning Five: 04.25.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 25th, 2011

  1. At Midnight ET last night, the NBA’s draft entry deadline passed.  Although we won’t know for certain all the players who announced their intentions to test the waters until the league releases its certified list later this week, there were a few others over the weekend who announced they’re going to give it a shot.  Texas stars Jordan Hamilton and Cory Josephannounced that they would join teammate Tristan Thompson in the draft pool, with the latter two electing to not sign with an agent.  Thompson (along with Hamilton) is projected as a top 20 pick and is expected to stay in the draft, while Joseph is in a more precarious spot.  If he doesn’t appear to become a first-rounder, we’d expect to see him back in Austin next season to team with Myck Kabongo to form one of the best backcourts in all of college basketball.  Another late addition to the draft pool was Georgetown small forward Hollis Thompson, a bit of a surprise to most observers but one which nearly everyone expects will be a temporary situation — he has not signed with an agent and is not projected as a  first or second round pick on any major draft board at this time.
  2. Miami (FL) confirmed on Friday evening that Jim Larranagawould be their new head coach, taking over for Frank Haith.  While some have derided the age of Larranaga as a major barrier to the rebuilding project in Coral Gables, Mike DeCourcy doesn’t believe that will matter much.  He cites Jim Calhoun, Coach K, and Roy Williams as the last three national championship coaches, all of whom are in Larranaga’s age bracket, but we think he fails to adequately recognize that it will take the 61-year old coach at least a year or two to get his feet wet recruiting in South Florida.  While it’s true that he’ll inherit a solid Hurricane team with most of its top players back, the group finished ninth last season in a historically bad ACC, and we’re of the opinion that younger go-getters such as Steve Donahue (BC), Brad Brownell (Clemson) and Brian Gregory (Georgia Tech) are better positioned to move up the conference ladder in coming years.
  3. We know that you were waiting with baited breath on the ruling from the Indiana Supreme Court on how the NCAA handles its public ticket sales for the Final Four, and the decision came down Friday.  You will be thrilled to learn that the court found in a unanimous ruling that the NCAA’s lottery method of selecting the chosen few to dole out $150 for ducats to the sport’s marquee event is not illegal.  A similar case currently sits at the federal level in the 7th Circuit US Court of Appeals, but no ruling has been made in that one yet.
  4. UConn sophomore Jamal Coombs-McDanielwas arrested along with two other individuals for possession of 5.6 grams of marijuana in a dorm room on Thursday night.  That night was the kickoff to an annual UConn rite known as Spring Weekend, a campus-wide party prior to final exams in coming weeks, and JCD apparently was doing his part to liven the place up.  He faces both a possession and a drug paraphernalia charge for his role in the crimes, and we’d expect to see him doing some hardcore community service in and around Storrs in the near future.
  5. Speaking of players behaving badly, BYU’s Brandon Davies, he of the school honor code violation involving premarital canoodling, is expected to “meet conditions so he’ll be eligible” to return to school for the fall semester.  This is great news for a BYU program facing the losses of NPOY Jimmer Fredette and secondary stars Jackson Emery, Kyle Collinsworth (Mormon mission), and two other players as it moves to the WCC in basketball next year.  Still, Davies’ foul-up (the getting caught part, not the canoodling part, in our estimation) may have cost BYU a trip to its first-ever Final Four, so we’ll be interested to see just how forgiving the Cougar faithful will be when he suits up again.
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Morning Five: 08.31.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 31st, 2010

  1. Checking in on the latest conference re-re-realignment talk from Utah, the current word is that BYU is still intent on going independent in football but is looking more and more like a candidate to move to the WCC in basketball and all other sports.  Yes, you read that right.  The West Coast Conference, the tightly-knit eight-team conference of tiny private religious institutions that max out at nearly 9,000 students (Loyola Marymount and San Francisco, whereas BYU at 33,000 students is nearly four times that enrollment) and has remained at eight teams for three decades.  Andy Katz makes the case that this move makes sense in basketball, and we can’t really argue with his logic, except for one little thing — you know what makes more sense?  Staying in the Mountain West, where, with recent additions of Nevada and Fresno State to go with San Diego State, UNLV and New Mexico, the league is on the verge of overtaking the Pac-10 for hoops superiority out west.  We should know something very soon — the deadline for BYU to leave the Mountain West is Wednesday.
  2. Getting back to the conference that BYU originally threatened to move to prior to its implosion, the WAC, feeling jilted and unloved after Nevada and Fresno State’s unceremonious dumping earlier this month, is threatening to sue the two schools if each refuses to pay a disputed $5M exit fee each by the October 25 deadline.  Furthermore, the WAC says that they have the contractual right to not release the two renegades until after the 2011-12 academic year, an interesting assertion given that Fresno and Nevada’s stated positions are that they’re leaving next summer.  This is going to get more interesting before it dies down, because there’s no question that this particular tussle has gotten personal among key players at some of these schools.
  3. There’ll be a boatload of these player profiles coming out in the next two months, but it just means that the season is slowly approaching.  Here are a few from the last few days: Texas’ Jordan Hamilton, Mizzou’s Kim English, Purdue’s E’Twaun Moore, and Louisville’s Preston Knowles.
  4. Jeff Jacobs, a UConn columnist at the Hartford Courant, suggests that Ater Majok’s presumed leaving of the program has nothing to do with impending sanctions that may have involved his recruitment, as we wrote could be possible yesterday.  But in the same paragraph, he also says that there have been “whispers” in the program involving Majok, so we’re not sure what to believe here.  UConn is expected to announce its response to the NCAA’s allegations later this week.
  5. Austin Rivers is the #1 prospect in the Class of 2011, according to Rivals, and he showed the skill that he possesses in a recent summer league game where he crossed over and scored on #1 pick John Wall, followed by ripping him clean on defense on the other end.  One blogger makes a reasonable case as to why Rivers will end up playing for Coach K at Duke in the fall of 2011.

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Morning Five: 08.18.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 18th, 2010

  1. It was unsettling kind of day, as two lawsuits involving high-major coaches were settled yesterday.  Perhaps they saw Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s fifteen seconds of infamy and decided to hedge their bets, but former Seton Hall head coach Bobby Gonzalez and current Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy both settled their ongoing lawsuits yesterday.  Gonzalez was embroiled in a wrongful termination suit with Seton Hall after getting the axe in March on the heels of a  public blowup with the law school dean, claiming he was owed two more years of salary.  Kennedy settled his defamation suit against a cab driver and valet over a dust-up in 2008 where the pair accused the coach of using racial slurs because the cabbie wouldn’t allow the five people in Kennedy’s group into his vehicle (the max is four).  Details of both settlements were not released, which is just as well for everyone involved.
  2. While on the topic of lawsuits, the Pitino/Sypher saga won’t die in Louisville.  Defense attorney James Earhart now claims that he has new information that specifically leads him to believe that some of the prosecution’s witnesses perjured themselves while under oath.  He’s asking for a 45-day extension to further research these allegations and believes that it will ultimately lead to a mistrial on appeal.  Maybe this is Earhart’s way of saying that it might have been a good idea to call some witnesses who could have impeached their testimony during the trial?
  3. The legacy of John Wooden will live on in the form of the contents of his den — all the hundreds of pieces of memorabilia that the Wizard held onto over the years — which will be moved en masse over to the UCLA campus for fans to enjoy as a virtual Wooden terrarium.  We’ve already got plans to visit UCLA’s JD Morgan Center later this year to see this.
  4. We had the privilege of seeing all six of Butler’s NCAA Tournament games live last year, and in each game more than the last, we came away impressed with the poise and abilities of the Bulldogs’ Shelvin Mack.  Luke Winn writes that Mack, more than any other player on the summer circuit of camps and USA Basketball, has elevated himself to the point where he’s getting rave reviews from veteran guards in the League.  Case in point: Mack was chosen over quite a few big names for his spot on the USA Select team, players such as Scoop Jardine, Scotty Hopson, Jacob Pullen and Jimmer Fredette.  Could Mack, Ronald Nored and Matt Howard propel Butler toward another Final Four next year?  They may be closer than conventional wisdom says even after losing star forward Gordon Hayward.
  5. Fanhouse put together a cool idea — figuring out who should make up the College-Forever team.  Using the general criteria of great collegiate players who barely earned a cup of coffee in the NBA (or none at all), who would populate your top three teams of the modern era (1985 to present)?  We only saw one major omission, and that was Arkansas’ Scotty Thurman, who despite a brilliant college career never logged a single second in the NBA.  Nevertheless, he was an absolute assassin for Nolan Richardson’s “40 Minutes of Hell” Razorbacks, winning multiple games with his smooth stroke in late-game situations, most notably from the wing over Duke in 1994.  He should have been on the first-team over Ed Cota, and at worst second-team.  Cool concept, though.
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Morning Five: 05.18.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 17th, 2010

  1. From the this-cannot-possibly-be-a-good-idea department, Tennessee forward Emmanuel Negedu — you remember, the Vol who had a freakin’ heart attack last fall during a workout — is transferring to New Mexico because the school will let him play basketball again.  That option had been closed off to him by UT, so he was looking for another school willing to give him a chance.  We certainly understand when Negedu says that not playing basketball made him feel “like he was dead,” but he actually was dead for a little while last fall and we certainly hope that the New Mexico doctors who have cleared him earned their medical degrees away from the Caribbean islands.  Sheesh.  If the NCAA approves his medical waiver, he could play as soon as the 2010-11 season.
  2. This is going to be an ongoing theme all summer long, but the Big Ten is holding its annual meeting for coaches and administrators this week in Chicago and expansion is on everyone’s mind even though it’s not officially on the agenda.
  3. There are reports that everyone’s favorite networker, World Wide Wes, has been quietly contacting NBA teams with coaching and salary cap space about the possibility of bringing John Calipari and LeBron James as a package deal next season.  Our take on this is simple: if Calipari gets a realistic opportunity to coach the best player in the world during his prime the next five seasons, he’s going to take it.  The good news for UK fans is that there are many peripheral issues at play here, and the likelihood of such a package deal actually occurring is not all that high.  Gregg Doyel, for what it’s worth, doesn’t believe the hype.
  4. In a lawsuit pitting former Oklahoma State assistant coach Jimmy Williams against current Minnesota head coach Tubby Smith over a hiring dispute, former OSU head man Eddie Sutton was called as a witness yesterday.  Evidently the folksy coach got very angry under cross-examination when questioned about his time at Kentucky in the 1980s, going so far as to ask the judge whether he could ask the lawyer a question, and ultimately apologizing to the court for his behavior.
  5. Former president Bill Clinton gave the commencement address at WVU Sunday, and Da’Sean Butler was one graduate that impressed the former commander-in-chief, stating that he rooted for the Mountaineers in the Big East Tournament and the NCAA Tournament after Georgetown (his alma mater) was out.  Butler tweeted out afterward:  Met with the Real Pimp C today—-Bill Clinton. Cool dude n knows his basketball. It kinda surprised me. Oh yea I 4got I’m graduating!!!!!!
  6. A bonus this morning: the NBA Pre-Draft Camp list of invitees is out for this season, and 53 players will get a chance to improve their stock later this month in Chicago.  Here’s the complete list:

Solomon Alabi, Florida State
Cole Aldrich, Kansas
Al-Farouq Aminu, Wake Forest
James Anderson, Oklahoma State
Luke Babbitt, Nevada
Eric Bledsoe, Kentucky
Trevor Booker, Clemson
Craig Brackins, Iowa State
Avery Bradley, Texas
Derrick Caracter, Texas El Paso
Sherron Collins, Kansas
DeMarcus Cousins, Kentucky
Jordan Crawford, Xavier
Ed Davis, North Carolina
Devin Ebanks, West Virginia
Derrick Favors, Georgia Tech
Tiny Gallon, Oklahoma
Charles Garcia, Seattle
Paul George, Fresno State
Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Manny Harris, Michigan
Gordon Hayward, Butler
Lazard Hayward, Marquette
Xavier Henry, Kansas
Darington Hobson, New Mexico
Damion James, Texas
Armon Johnson, Nevada
Wesley Johnson, Syracuse
Dominique Jones, South Florida
Jerome Jordan, Tulsa
Sylven Landesberg, Virginia
Gani Lawal, Georgia Tech
Greg Monroe, Georgetown
Daniel Orton, Kentucky
Artsiom Parakhouski, Radford
Patrick Patterson, Kentucky
Dexter Pittman, Texas
Quincy Pondexter, Washington
Andy Rautins, Syracuse
Stanley Robinson, Connecticut
Larry Sanders, Virginia Commonwealth
Jon Scheyer, Duke
Lance Stephenson, Cincinnati
Mikhail Torrance, Alabama
Evan Turner, Ohio State
Ekpe Udoh, Baylor
Jarvis Varnado, Mississippi State
Greivis Vasquez, Maryland
John Wall, Kentucky
Willie Warren, Oklahoma
Terrico White, Mississippi
Hassan Whiteside, Marshall
Elliot Williams, Memphis

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Buzz: Courtney Fortson Faces Discipline For Tweet

Posted by rtmsf on September 11th, 2009

Yep, we’re officially moving into shark-jumping territory on Twitter now, as this is our second post of the day relating to the micro-blogging site (#rushthecourt, btw).  You’ve undoubtedly heard by now that a few days ago several Arkansas players were accused of sexual assault by a freshman woman who at the time belied her story by reportedly telling a bystander who happened upon the lascivious incident that she and her new friends “didn’t do anything wrong.”  Prosecutors declined to pursue the case citing a lack of evidence, but it appears that John Pelphrey will not rest until somebody pays for all this negative publicity.  Well, guess what – even though he was not one of the accused, Arkansas PG Courtney Fortson made reference to the rape allegations on Monday in a tweet (later deleted but available through Tweleted) and he is now facing discipline from the school for his “crass” comment (see tweet below).  We’re not even quite sure what Fortson is trying to say here, actually.  Is he getting blown during a workout?  Or is he making some cryptic reference to one of the accused who has a reputation for working out hard?  It’s pretty much indecipherable to our eyes.  Or maybe he was simply trying to be creative.  If that’s the case, Fortson clearly needs to work on his metaphors, so maybe Pelphrey should force him to take a creative writing class.  If he’s lucky, maybe the “do no wrong” gal will be sitting there next to him.

fortson tweet

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