Morning Five: 03.05.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2012


  1. On Friday, Seth Davis published a series of scouting reports on teams from coaches within their own conference. While none of the analysis will be groundbreaking to those who follow the sport closely it is interesting to see how brutally honest some of these coaches are. For example, a Big East coach said of Connecticut, “The Huskies don’t run offense. I mean they literally don’t run a fricking offense.” We are assuming the coaches know many of these things about their own team, but we would be interested to know if any of the players and/or coaches read these comments and try to make a change based on them. We doubt it, but we imagine that at least a few of them will read these comments and be affected by them at least subconsciously.
  2. If you are the coach du jour this March, you might be wise to consider the tale of Chris Lowery, who in 2007 was one of the hottest coaches in the country and then was fired by Southern Illinois on Friday. Lowery, who has two years remaining on a contract that is scheduled to pay him more than $5 million with a buyout of approximately $1.5 million, took the school to the Sweet 16 in 2007, but finished just 145-116 in eight seasons there. We are not sure where Lowery goes from here, but the hot rumor right now is that Southern Illinois plans to go after its former coach Bruce Weber if (more likely when) he is fired from Illinois.
  3. After going through hundreds of resumes Air Force decided the best option for their next coach was their current coach and on Saturday they announced that they were removing the interim label from the title of Dave Pilipovich to make him their new head coach. Citing a desire to establish continuity for the team and his win over a San Diego State team that was ranked in the top 15 at the time (and leaving out his 1-5 record in his other games), the school opted to retain Pilipovich who will have his first head coaching job after working for 26 years as an assistant.
  4. It takes a special kind of dumb to get kicked off the team with one regular season game remaining in your college career, but apparently Ty Walker is. The 7-foot tall center was dismissed from the Wake Forest team with just one regular season game remaining in his college career for an undisclosed violation of departmental policy. Walker’s troubles in college have been well-documented and his decline from one of the top recruits in the country coming into college to a guy who gets kicked off the team just before his college career is over could be a case study in how not to become a professional basketball player.
  5. It seems like every year we link to a piece on Lenny Cooke, a high school legend who was famously destroyed at ABCD Camp in 2001 by some kid named LeBron. This year’s installment/update comes from The New York Times and takes a look at what has gone wrong in Cooke’s life. While you could probably write a similar story about many high school athletes, few carry the brand-name appeal to people of a certain generation (like the one of the two editors here) as Cooke. For those of you who are not familiar with Cooke’s story, it is essentially similar to the one that is told in Hoop Dreams except that Cooke was considered more of a sure-fire NBA prospect than William Gates ever was.
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Morning Five: 07.26.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 26th, 2011

  1. Amidst reports that the University of Connecticut was working on a buyout of embattled athletic director Jeff Hathaway, the school’s new president, Susan Herbst, confirmed that she has initiated a comprehensive evaluation of the school’s athletic department.  The evaluation, performed by an outside consulting firm, is clearly meant to provide cover for the ouster of Hathaway, or even better, just cause for an outright firing.  But as Hartford Courant columnist Jeff Jacobs writes in a scathing piece about the politics behind this situation, Hathaway never had a chance to survive at UConn with Jim Calhoun remaining “bitter Hathaway didn’t defend him vigorously enough in the Nate Miles case” with the NCAA.  According to Jacobs, the three-time national championship coach felt he did nothing wrong (even though the NCAA found him guilty of failure to monitor his program).  Interesting stuff, but assuming Hathaway is done at UConn, what is the back-up plan for the 2012 NCAA Selection Committee chair?
  2. We did this in  yesterday’s M5, right?  From Connecticut to Tennessee again with the release Monday of UT’s 190-page response to the NCAA’s notice of allegations on various violations including the infamous cookout photograph of Bruce Pearl at his home with Aaron Craft.  If you’re a fan of legalese and you have a couple hours to kill, feel free to read the entire thing, but if not, the key takeaway from our view of the world is that the Vol program is kidding itself if it believes that its remedial measures of firing the coaching staff responsible will somehow insulate the program from future restrictions.  There’s simply too much to account for here.
  3. Summer is high time for prep basketball camps around the country, with events like the adidas Super 64 in Las Vegas this week becoming the epicenter of elite high school talent for college coaches to do their one-stop shopping for the stars of tomorrow.  But today’s desert hoops, or the LeBron James Skills Academy, or the Peach Jam, weren’t always the shining stars of the summer circuit.  For much of the 1990s and 2000s, it was instead a tiny gymnasium on the campus of Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey, and the Newark Star-Ledger over the weekend took a look back at those halcyon days.  The ABCD Camp, founded and run by the inimitable Sonny Vaccaro, had a certain panache that the others to this date still haven’t been able to live up to.  It was a place where the top stars from all around the country played against each other, and where reputations were made.  From Tracy McGrady exploding onto the scene in 1996 to LeBron James’ destruction of Lenny Cooke’s psyche in 2001, it all happened there.  Great stroll down memory lane.
  4. Regardless of  where the elite players play during the summer, people will watch and report on it.  Mike DeCourcy checked in with an interesting story about one of the most intriguing players in Las Vegas this week.  Andre Drummond might be listed as a member of the Class of 2012, but the 6’11″ center in the mold of Dwight Howard, has several options after the summer circuit ends which makes his situation particularly compelling.  Since his high school class graduated this year, he could potentially spend next season at prep school for a year, head off to college at the last minute, or even consider offers to play in Europe as he awaits the NBA’s lockout decision over the winter (to determine if he’ll be eligible to decleare in the summer of 2012 or 2013).  Personally, we’re rooting for him to just show up on a random campus on the first day of classes and walk into the head coach’s office with a declaration, “I’m ready to play.”
  5. We’ve been waiting to link this, but now that Basketball Prospectus‘ Drew Cannon has finished his list of the Top 100 returning players in college basketball, it’s ready for prime time.  Believe it or not, the SEC ended up with four players in the top nine of the list, and the only team with two guys in the top ten was none other than Vanderbilt.  And we’re betting dollars to doughnuts that you’ll be surprised at the Commodores player chosen who is not named John Jenkins.  An added bonus to this list: all-conference teams for each of the six major leagues and a preseason POY the top mid-major conferences.  Great stuff.
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Morning Five: 06.17.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 17th, 2011

  1. Earlier this year Washington‘s Venoy Overton was involved in a salacious case where he was accused of statutory rape before local police decided not to pursue the case further. Now it appears that Overton has found himself in trouble again as he was arrested yesterday afternoon for promoting prostitution. According to police reports, an 18 year-old female was questioned for “prostitution activity” and told police that her boyfriend, Overton, brought her there and told her to engage in prostitution. According to the female, Overton gave her specific instructions on what acts to perform, what to charge, and what percentage he took. Lorenzo Romar, who took quite a bit of heat this season after letting Overton return to the Huskies after his prior run-in with law, issued the following statement: “I have been informed of the arrest of Venoy Overton and I am extremely disappointed.  My staff and I spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy attempting to mentor Venoy prior to his recent graduation, so this news is especially troubling.” Overton, who graduated on Saturday with a degree in American Ethnic studies, is expected to appear before a judge today.
  2. The guys at Lost Letterman caught up with former prep star Lenny Cooke recently. For those of you who not aware Cooke was one of the premier high school players in the country in the Class of 2002 and considered by many to be at the same level as two more well-known players in his class–Amar’e Stoudamire and Carmelo Anthony. Through a series of bad decisions and unfortunate events Cooke never played a minute in college or the NBA. Today, Cooke’s legacy will probably come from the 2001 ABCD Camp where Cooke, a rising senior, was matched up against a hyped rising junior named LeBron James in what was supposed to be a match-up for the ages. Unfortunately for Cooke, LeBron, who was already demonstrating his knack for coming up big in big moments (wait, what?), destroyed Cooke on both ends of the floor to start the LeBron hype machine going full force while Cooke began his rapid fall.
  3. It appears that Virginia coach Tony Bennett may almost be ready to turn the Cavalier program around with a solid group of recruits. Virginia, which had been one of the better programs in the ACC during the 1990s, has only made the NCAA Tournament once in the past decade. After a 7-9 record in an admittedly weak year for the ACC, Bennett could have the Cavaliers primed to be a sleeper in the conference and could challenge the second tier of teams (the ones not named Duke or UNC) in the very near future.
  4. Earlier this week we linked to a column by Dana O’Neil talking about the difficult jobs of college basketball assistant coaches. Yesterday, Ohio State‘s Brandon Miller, considered by many to be one of the top assistant coaches in college basketball, stepped down citing a need to spend more time with his family. Although it isn’t an ideal time to try to find a new assistant coach with the summer recruiting season about to heat up, the Buckeyes recruiting should not suffer too much as Thad Matta already has two experienced assistants in Jeff Boals and Dave Dickerson and could potentially promote newly hired video coordinator Greg Paulus to take Miller’s place.
  5. When Oliver Purnell took over at DePaul last year it was widely considered one of the tougher rebuilding projects in America, but had some potential with the ability to recruit local Chicago high school players. While Purnell did have some success in his first year (winning the school’s first Big East game after a 24-game losing streak and its first road conference win since 2008) it was a very difficult year again for the Blue Demons. Things may get even tougher for Purnell as he will have to replace both Devin Hill and Eric Wallace who have decided to leave the program with Hill leaving for Loyola and Wallace leaving for Ohio State.
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