NCAA Closes Recruiting Loophole — Sort Of

Posted by jstevrtc on January 14th, 2010

According to this report from CBS Sports, earlier today the NCAA passed legislation regarding a subject they’ve been talking about tackling for years, specifically that of basketball programs hiring “anyone associated with a basketball recruit for a two-year period before or after the player enrolls at the school.”  Gone, therefore, are the days when a coach could entice a prized recruit to play at his program by also offering up a job as an assistant coach or administrative assistant (fill in whatever title you wish) to the recruit’s high school or AAU coach, or to a family member.

Don’t be fooled — this tactic is as much in practice today as it was in the past.  A piece by the inestimable Andy Katz published at ESPN.com back in September brought up the matter of Louisville’s Rick Pitino hiring an assistant coach from star recruit Marquis Teague’s high school team as an assistant at the U of L program, and that many people are questioning the timing.  At the beginning of the article he cites several examples of programs hiring associates/family members to help land recruits: during Bob Huggins’ one year at Kansas State, the program hired UNC-Charlotte assistant Dalonte Hill (Michael Beasley’s AAU coach); Beasley decided to get out of his initial commitment to Charlotte and head to K-State soon after.  Danny Manning’s father was on Kansas’ staff during the Danny and the Miracles title year, and Mario Chalmers’ father was a staff member on their championship team from two years ago.  John Calipari hired Milt Wagner to his staff right around the time that his son, prized prepster DaJuan Wagner, had signed with Memphis.  It’s true, in each of these situations, there were reasons to hire the associate/family member other than their relation to the star player, and many of them were in their positions before and after the player came or left.  The point is, though, that shady or not, this stuff happens.  We know why it happens.  And the NCAA has now attempted to do something about it.

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Backdoor Cuts: Vol. V

Posted by nvr1983 on December 30th, 2009

backdoorcuts(3)

Backdoor Cuts is a college basketball discussion between RTC correspondents Dave Zeitlin, Steve Moore and Mike Walsh. This week they each pick their favorite moment of the decade — and their answers may surprise you.

DAVE ZEITLIN: Guys, in life I only have two rules: 1) Don’t commit murder; and 2) When a decade is coming to an end, I need to categorize everything in “best of” formats. Seriously, I eat that stuff up like I’m Rick Majerus at a buffet table. I’ve already listed the top 10 Penn basketball moments of the decade for my new Penn sports blog (yes, that’s a plug — now click on the link before I consider breaking rule No. 1) and I’ve read countless more of these types of lists. Who knows why? I guess I’m just a sucker for moments — glorious, spine-tingling, remember-where-you-were-when-you-see-them moments that shed a little light on why I devote way too much of my pathetic life to sports.

College basketball, to be sure, had plenty of great moments this decade. For a good walk down memory lane, be sure to check out a nice recap from Seth Davis. From Syracuse’s national championship in 2003 (Hakim Warrick’s block!) to George Mason’s truly amazing run to Adam Morrison crying on the floor, there are so many moments I remember vividly.

But this is a column where we get stuff done. So our goal is to pick out the truly best moment of the decade. Of course, this can mean a lot of things. For me,it’s hard to pick just one from the NCAA tournament, which features a handful of memorable games and plays every year. So after further consideration, I’ve decided my favorite moment of the 2000s happened this year. It wasn’t a do-or-die game for either team and many people didn’t even watch the end. But Syracuse’s six-overtime win over UConn in last season’s Big East tournament was truly epic — and my No. 1 choice.

I won’t recap the game for you. That would take up too much space, and I don’t even think I remember much of it. Here’s what I do remember: placing a friendly wager with my sports editor about the game (I picked ‘Cuse!), leaving work after the first overtime, listening to one or two  overtimes in my car ride home, coming home and chatting with anyone who was online (was that you, Steve?) through the next couple of overtimes, and then pacing around my apartment and muttering like a crazy person during the final two overtimes. How many overtimes is that? I don’t even know. That game made me forget how to count.

Seriously, I didn’t know what to do during the last hour of that game. I wanted to scream. I wanted to run around the city and find people to talk to about the 2-3 zone. I wanted to drive to Syracuse, find the walk-on that played the final overtime because everyone else fouled out and hug him. I wanted to write the words “March Madness” on a piece of paper and then make out with it. It was that good.

Was it the most important moment of the decade? Definitely not. But it was my favorite. And now I’m eager to know — what are yours? There are no rules, no restrictions. Mike, this is your chance to pen a poem on why St. Joe’s was the best sports story in Philadelphia in 2004 other than a horse. And Steve, you can, um, write about how BU’s only trip to the tourney was spoiled by Bob Huggins being mean. I’ll be anxiously waiting — it’s just too bad there won’t be any six-overtime games to keep me entertained in the meantime.

A polarizing figure for our columnists

STEVE MOORE: First of all, that 2002 tournament game still gives me nightmares. Did Steve Logan really need to go back in the game when Cincinnati had a bazillion-point lead? Bob Huggins thought so. Bob Huggins also hates puppies. So there’s that. Also, what does a list of Top 10 Penn Basketball moments of the decade look like, exactly?

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Memo to Bill Self: Take Charge of the Situation

Posted by rtmsf on October 2nd, 2009

This Kansas thing just gets uglier.  A report yesterday from the Lawrence Journal World & News associates two other criminal matters with the fights between KU football and basketball players on Sept. 22 and 23.  Officials were quick to say that these crimes do not involve Jayhawk athletes, but from a public relations standpoint, the company you keep can be just as revealing as your own behavior (FB updates for all the world to read).  It’s not fair, but it’s real.  Footage released yesterday showed what appears to be a large crowd of people standing around outside the now-infamous Jayhawker Towers watching something go down (see full video report here), but the angle and quality of the video is not good enough to pick out particular parties who were involved. 

ku fight footage

What we do know is that the mother of Mario Chalmers’ child, Andrea Johnson, was cited over the summer for battery in another dispute at the Towers, and she apparently was also somehow mixed up in the mess at KU last week along with another woman who may or may not be the flash point for all of this machismo.  According to court records, Guy Lipscomb, a Lawrence resident who is not a KU student, threatened to shoot Johnson and that woman in the parking lot outside the Towers shortly after the first Sept. 22 melee (pictured above).   

Now, we don’t know about how heated your arguments get with people, but we think it’s safe to say that, as a general rule, if you’re pissing someone off enough for them to seriously threaten to SHOOT you, then there’s probably a decent reason (or two) why that person is angry with you.  Clearly, RTC doesn’t condone assault or battery of any kind, and the police did their sworn and rightful duty to take Lipscomb off the street and away from a potentially deadly situation.  But what’s going on with these two women to make everyone so flippin’ mad? 

We say it again.  Despite what Mark Mangino does, Bill Self has to get in front of this situation.  The more things come out like this, the worse his program and players look in terms of public relations and perception.  And perception impacts recruiting.  He needs to impose sanctions on the involved parties and do so immediately.  And if he cannot figure out exactly who was involved (or the players won’t talk), then he needs to punish the entire team until they do.  This would send a loud and clear directive that he will not tolerate behavior that results in people threatening to shoot each other on his campus.  And remember, despite what anyone else says, KU is Bill Self’s campus.  He’s the national title coach at one of the biggest basketball schools in the country.  His actions and words are the most important on that campus, and his paycheck reflects that reality. 

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Team of the 2000s: #2- Kansas

Posted by zhayes9 on August 19th, 2009

teamof2000(2)

Ed. Note: Check the category team of the 2000s for our other entries in this feature.

Stepping away from this decade’s rankings for a moment, one could make the argument that the runner-up recipient on our list would top a list of the greatest college basketball programs of all-time. Sure, UCLA and Kentucky fans may quibble, but the combination of legendary players (Lovelette, Chamberlain, Manning, Pierce), pantheon coaches (Naismith, Allen, Brown, Williams) and an arena that every true college basketball fan should visit (Allen Fieldhouse) could surely provide enough ammunition to make an argument to head an all-time list. The successes of this program’s basketball has extended into the current decade, complete with Final Fours, national championship heartbreaks and a comeback for the ages. Let’s take a closer look:

#2 – Kansas

team2000skansas

Overview. As one can tell from the chart above, Kansas has been the model of consistency over the course of the decade. Not even a Hall-of-Fame coach departing for his alma mater could deter the Jayhawks program in the 2000s. In fact, Kansas is the only school to reach the top-five in every single category considered, including a runner-up rank in Sweet 16s and Final Fours reached with seven and three, respectively. Other teams on the list have gone without a losing campaign and reached the NCAA Tournament each season, but none of those schools lost a coach midway through the decade. After Roy Williams departed, Kansas made a tremendous hire, luring Illinois coach Bill Self to Lawrence. He’s responded by capturing a Big 12 regular season title each season with the exception of 2003-04, a year in which he finished second and reached the Elite Eight (ho hum). The peak for Kansas may have come in the early part of the decade under Williams, though. The Jayhawk squads from 2001-03 were truly memorable. The 2001-02 club is still the only team in Big 12 history to finish conference play undefeated, a Drew Gooden-led group that finished first in the nation in field goal and winning percentage. A year later, Kansas led the nation in scoring margin and reached the national title game.

Pinnacle. KU’s only national championship in the decade would not have occurred if Derrick Rose or Chris Douglas-Roberts had sunk one more measly free throw during the thrilling 2008 National Championship Game in San Antonio. You know the story: Memphis leads Kansas 60-51 with two minutes left, the national title within their grasp…only to experience heartbreak of the highest order. Give the Jayhawks credit, though, for going perfect from the field and line during those waning minutes. Mario Chalmers’ game-tying three-point shot with 2.1 seconds left will forever be etched in the mind of college basketball fans and may be the single greatest moment in Kansas basketball history (from the wayback machine: RTC’s “morning after” analysis of the game). And that’s saying something. Long known for NCAA Tournament chokes, (we’ll delve into that in a bit) Bill Self finally reached the pinnacle, a pinnacle that is still going strong today. That national title squad was stripped of nearly every contributing player besides sixth man Sherron Collins and little-used big man Cole Aldrich, yet Self’s superb coaching led Kansas to another Big 12 title and Sweet 16 appearance in 2008-09. As the preseason #1 team in the land entering the next decade, the pinnacle has yet to conclude.

Tailspin. Many fans would immediately point to the heartbreaking loss to Syracuse in the 2003 National Championship game (you remember the infamous Hakim Warrick block), a last hurrah for Kirk Hinrich, Nick Collison and Roy Williams gone awry. But I’d be shocked if diehard Kansas fans didn’t select the consecutive first round losses in 2005 and 2006 to Bucknell (as a #3 seed) and Bradley (as a #4 seed) as the lowest points of the decade. The 2004-05 Kansas team completely collapsed after starting the season 20-1 and reaching the top spot in the polls, a squad led by Wayne Simien, Keith Langford and Aaron Miles during Self’s second season. They would go on to lose six of their last nine games before the shocking Bucknell last-second upset. The following season was different yet finished eerily similar. After a rough start, KU rebounded to win 15 of their last 17 games and the Big 12 tournament before falling to Bradley in the opening round. After the loss, Bill Self was labeled a perennial March choke artist and many questioned whether the Kansas program could ever return to prominence.

4884312_Kansas_v_GT[1]

Outlook for 2010s: Grade: A+. Kansas has returned to prominence. The Jayhawks enter the 2009-10 season as the near-unanimous favorite to raise another rafter in Allen Fieldhouse, a feat that would complete the quickest rebuilding job in the sport’s history. Aldrich appears to be one of the early favorites to win the Naismith Award and Self lured another McDonald’s All-American into the fray for next season in talented wing Xavier Henry, coupled with two more top-ten players at their respective positions in Elijah Johnson and Thomas Robinson to go with Tyshawn Taylor, Marcus Morris and Collins. Self is a recruiting machine and appears to be the frontrunner for Harrison Barnes, the top player in next year’s class. Kansas is the height of the coaching chain and, barring an unforeseen flameout, Self should be the KU coach for years and years to come (especially after rejecting a monster package from his alma mater, Oklahoma State). The March monkey is off his back and the future is extremely bright for one of the most storied programs in college basketball.

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Team of the 2000s: #8 – Memphis

Posted by jstevrtc on August 11th, 2009

teamof2000(2)

Ed. Note: check the category team of the 2000s for our other entries in this feature.

We already know that this selection is going to cause some consternation among teams that weren’t selected as high.  It’s ok.  We get it.  The selection process ultimately comes down to a matter of taste, and Memphis blended with our palates a little better than the others.  If you disagree, let us know…

#8 – Memphis

team2000memphis

Overview. In the period from 2000-2009, few college basketball programs “felt” bigger than Memphis.  John Calipari showed up to run the show in 2000 and everyone knew what was to come — big-time recruits, lots of one-and-done types, scads more wins, deeper advancement in the NCAA.  Also on the way, whether justified or not, was that dirty feeling that comes with knowing that your program is being led by a fellow on whom you always feel you — or maybe a private detective you’ve hired — need to keep a close eye.  In terms of the on-the-floor expectations, Calipari delivered exactly what was expected of him; after a couple of warm-up years things improved and then really took off in the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons when Memphis and their collection of ridiculous interchangable-part type athletes rode Calipari’s Dribble-Drive Offense to consecutive regular-season 30-3 records and Elite Eight apperances.  As a basketball power, Memphis was taken more seriously than it ever had been and it looked like Calipari was building a Leviathan.  The 2007-08 squad validated this by putting up such impressive numbers as achieving the school’s second-ever #1 ranking, a 38-win season (jeez), and its first Final Four since the days of Keith Lee and Dana Kirk back in 1985.  Then, in the championship game…well, in case you didn’t see it….about two minutes to go, up by nine, they….um….well, just check this out.  Even with this, even if you didn’t agree with all of their methods, the Memphis program had still reached elite status in the college hoops world.

calipari coaching memphis

Pinnacle. No question, things were sweetest in Tigerland when they posted that 37th win and made it to that 2008 Final Four.  That particular Memphis team, with Chris Douglas-Roberts and Derrick Rose and a litany of other high-flying gazelles — you remember the likes of Joey Dorsey, Antonio Anderson, Robert Dozier, I’m sure — was so athletic that you forgot about any possibility of, er, shadiness.  For the most part, you just enjoyed the show.  A case could definitely be made for a co-pinnacle for this program mere days later when they were, as noted above, up by nine in the final with only a couple minutes left between them and the true goal inherent in any lofty expectations — a title.

Tailspin. The 63-63 tie that resulted from Mario’s Miracle.  When Mario Chalmers hit that jumper, things were never the same therafter.  You could feel it coming.  Kansas was on fire in that stretch and Memphis couldn’t hit a free throw, but it was that shot, that boot to the forehead, that has started the Tiger program on its tailspin.  The next season (2008-09) was a disappointment by comparison, ending with an upset loss to Missouri in the Sweet 16 even though Memphis was again a popular and sexy pick for the Final Four.  Then came the departure of John Calipari to Kentucky and the NCAA allegations of Derrick Rose’s test-taking naughtiness.

Outlook for 2010s:  Grade: C. While Calipari seems to be pretty much off the hook in this Rose business — and Derrick Rose as well, just because he moved on — in the near future the Memphis program could still possibly feel the NCAA’s bitch-slapping pimp hand, and that Pinnacle as described above could be erased from the history books altogether, meaning Memphis might have to pack up the Aerostar and vacate their ’08 Final Four and all 38 of those victories like they never happened.  Enter former Arizona (and single-season at Memphis) assistant Josh Pastner.  Already known among coaching insiders as a hell of a recruiter, he knows what it takes to win; he was a walk-on on Arizona’s 1997 championship team.  It’s not like he’s going to let the post-Calipari roster totally collapse, and he’ll most certainly bring in his own high-level studs.  The question is, given the recent achievements of this program, how much time will he be allowed?  It’s difficult to speculate as far as an outlook for this program until the NCAA decides what they’re going to do to them, if anything.  The buzz around the program is more positive than you might expect, and that’s because of Pastner.  If he’s allowed the time to get over any penalties the NCAA might unload on the program, it will still be quite a while before they return to the level they achieved in the late 2000s.  But, in the end, I’ll bet that this program will do a little better than, say, to go the way of their former home – the now-empty Memphis Pyramid, previously the residence of the NCAA’s Tigers, NBA’s Grizzlies, numerous concerts and conference tournaments, and more recently (but no longer) the home of the biggest and most oddly-shaped Bass Pro Shops you’ve ever seen.

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Sweetest NCAA Memories #12: Mario Miracle

Posted by rtmsf on March 6th, 2009

memories

RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory,  something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today.  Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month.  We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.

The Mario Miracle  (submitted by Ryan ZumMallen of LBPostSports.com)

The Kansas Jayhawks had let me down too many times before.  Even as they romped through the 2008 NCAA Tournament field to face Memphis in the title game, visions of Arizona in 1997, Hakim Warrick’s freakish length in 2003 and Bucknell in 2005 danced in my head.  I mean, I was expecting national championships in those years.  Mike Bibby single-handedly made me question the meaning of life at the age of 12.

From This...

From This...

I’d been scorned too many times to get my hopes up as Kansas continued to win last season.  And win, and win.  I was cautiously optimistic heading into the title game, even after the Jayhawks’ romp of UNC in the game prior.  I thought we’d need a miracle.  Sure enough, Memphis gave us that by bricking free throws like it was in fashion.  Down three, I watched in horror as Sherron Collins dribbled down the court (his ball-handling has always terrified me) and found Mario Chalmers, who launched an impossible three-pointer from twenty-five feet out.  This was the point where Memphis was supposed to grab the rebound and celebrate.  But the universe felt my pain, it too had suffered long enough from the Jayhawks’ constant teasing.

...to This.

...to This.

The shot went in, and I screamed like a banshee.  I didn’t care that the game was about to go into overtime.  We beat fate.  We’d already won.

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Would You Like Some Fries With Your Neil Fingleton?

Posted by rtmsf on February 19th, 2009

big-mac-cartoon

You know that you’re coming to the end of the regular season when the McD’s Burger Boys are announced.  This annual rite of late winter signals that it’s time to hunker down and prepare for some warmer weather and a little thing called March Madness, and this game always gives us a peak of some of the next few years’ stars to watch.  Last year’s F4, for example, featured freshmen Kevin Love, Cole Aldrich and Derrick Rose – all three were Burger Boys in 2007, not to overlook Darrell Arthur, Sherron Collins, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington and James Keefe from the 2006 game, and Tyler Hansbrough, Bobby Frasor, Danny Green and Super Mario Chalmers from the 2005 game.   In all, a total of twelve McDonald’s All-Americans played in last year’s Final Four, and you can expect a multitude most seasons.

2009-mcds-all-americans

Keep in mind that aside from the top ten or so consensus players (this year, guys like Boynton, Henry, Sidney, Cousins and Favors are on that list), there is a fair amount of political posturing that goes into these selections.  Don’t believe us?  Then check some of the names of the last ten McD’s games and their career stats (you’ll notice a lot of “rep” schools on this list:

  • Rolando Howell – 2000 (South Carolina): 10/6 in 4 yrs
  • Neil Fingleton – 2000 (UNC/Holy Cross): 3/2 in 3 yrs
  • Michael Thompson – 2002 (Duke): 5/2 in 4 yrs
  • Travis Garrison – 2002 (Maryland) – 8/5 in 4 yrs
  • Ivan Harris – 2003 (Ohio St.): 6/2 in 4 yrs
  • Jawan McClellan – 2004 (Arizona): 8/3 in 4 yrs
  • Bobby Frasor – 2005 (UNC) – 4/3 in 4 yrs
  • Eric Boateng – 2005 (Duke/Arizona St.) – 3/2 in 3 yrs
  • Lance Thomas – 2006 (Duke): 5/3 in 3 yrs
  • James Keefe – 2006 (UCLA): 2/3 in 3 yrs

Another thing to remember is that while the McDonald’s game annually has many of the best players, it’s not the end-all.  Here’s a list of this year’s collegiate stars who never sniffed the grease, special sauce and Ronald’s creepy smile while still a prep star, yet turned out ok.

  • Hasheem Thabeet – 2005 (UConn) – ranked #64
  • Terrence Williams – 2005 (Louisville) – ranked #44
  • Jerel McNeal – 2005 (Marquette) – ranked #57
  • Jack McClinton – 2005 (Miami) – unranked
  • Sam Young – 2005 (Pittsburgh) – ranked #58
  • Luke Harangody – 2006 (Notre Dame) – ranked #83
  • DeJuan Blair – 2006 (Pittsburgh) – ranked #40
  • Stephen Curry - 2006 (Davidson) – unranked
  • Jodie Meeks – 2006 (Kentucky) – ranked #57
  • E’Twaun Moore – 2007 (Purdue) – ranked #23
  • James Johnson – 2007 (Wake Forest) – ranked #43
  • Patty Mills – 2007 (St. Mary’s) – unranked
  • Jeff Teague – 2007 (Wake Forest) – ranked #58
  • Isaiah Thomas – 2008 (Washington) – ranked #85
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09.14.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2008

Still trying to get caught up on newsworthy items from the last few weeks…

  • Coach K, fresh off his gold medal coaching victory with Team USA, says that from now on, he’s going to enjoy wins at Duke more.
  • Kansas’ best returning player, Sherron Collins, apparently showed up for KU’s Labor Day trip to Canada fat and out of shape.  Bill Self was not pleased, benching the point guard for the trip.  The good news for Self and KU is that their highly-regarded twin recruits, Marcus and Markieff Morris, were declared eligible to play this season.
  • Smart, fellas.  KU national champions  Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur got some greenery and some females up in their rooms at the NBA Rookie Transition Program (where the dangers of such issues as greenery and females are ostensibly discussed), leading to a $20k fine for each of them.
  • Oklahoma freshman Willie Warren has already made an impression with his mouth, apparently.
  • New Mexico State’s itinerant forward, Herb Pope, will transfer to Seton Hall.  He is asking for a medical waiver (the “Tyler Smith Rule”) so that he can play this season.  Mizzou’s Keon Lawrence is also transferring to Seton Hall. 
  • Well, that’s disappointing.  UNC-Asheville’s 7’7 behemoth Kenny George will likely miss the season after another foot surgery.
  • Jeff Goodman checks in on Pat Knight as he begins his first full season as the head man at Texas Tech.
  • Gary Parrish has a nice insight piece on how mid-major programs strategize recruiting against the big boys on the summer circuit. 
  • Not quite the SEC deal, but get ready to see more WAC basketball on ESPN beginning next year
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Breaking Down ESPN’s Prestige Rankings

Posted by nvr1983 on August 4th, 2008

Ed. Note:  Don’t like ESPN’s Prestige Rankings?  Provide your comment on how to improve them here.  We’re going to take this information and create a new set of rankings based on additional factors (and getting rid of the moronic NIT appearance = NCAA appearance (1 point) criterion). 

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that ESPN was trying to fill the dead space between the NBA Finals and the Olympics with yet another list. Normally I wouldn’t have even bothered to look at it because ESPN’s lists have been getting progressively more ludicrous (hitting its peak–or nadir–when John Hollinger put Dwayne Wade’s 2006 “Fall down 7 times, shoot 14 free throws” performance above every single one of Michael Jordan’s masterpieces). However, when I noticed that ESPN was trying to rank the most prestigious programs for college basketball in the 64-/65-team era, I was intrigued and figured it was worth some analysis.

Your #1 team of the era
Your #1 team of the era

The first thing I always do when looking at any list is to see the scoring system used and ESPN sure picked an interesting system. I’ll break it into segments with some analysis:

• National title … 25
• Title game loss … 20
• National semifinal loss … 15
• Elite Eight loss … 10

- All four of these things seems pretty reasonable. I think that most fans would value the post-season performances in a way that is pretty close to the points awarded although it seems like a Final 4 berth is considered a great accomplishment for any program (even for the Duke’s and North Carolina’s of the college basketball world). I probably would have bumped up the national title, title game loss, and national semifinal loss by 5 points to give a 10 point spread between an Elite 8 loss and a national semifinal loss.

• Best W-L record in conference’s regular season … 5
• 30-plus wins in a season … 5
• Sweet 16 loss … 5

- This is where the scoring starts to get questionable. I’m assuming the “Best W-L record in conference’s regular season” is lawyerspeak for regular season conference champion. I’m glad that ESPN has decided that the America East regular season champion deserves more points for their in-conference performance than the regular season runner-ups in the ACC, Big East, and SEC. The 5 points for the 30-plus win season may seem like a lot, but in fact they are very rare (Duke leads with 9 such seasons and I could only count/remember 16 programs with any 30-win seasons since the start of the 1984-85 season) so that seems reasonable (as does the 5 points for a Sweet 16 loss although 16 programs achieve are awarded this each season while approximately the same number have achieved it for a 30-win season during the entire era). My main question with the 5-point awards is if they really consider all regular season conference titles the same as it is easier to win certain titles than others. One interesting note about this methodology is that Princeton with 10 regular season Ivy League titles is awarded 50 points with this methodology while Duke with 9 30-plus win seasons is only awarded 45 points for that feat (ignoring the fact that Duke probably won the regular season conference title most of those years).

• Conference tournament title … 3
• AP first-team All-American … 3
• Losing in NCAA second round … 3

- I’m assuming that the Ivy League regular season champ automatically gets the 3 points for winning the conference tournament title since they don’t have a post-season tournament. This only further skews the points Princeton and UPenn get in this system as they receive 80 points and 96 points respectively for their Ivy League titles not to mention the 20-win seasons they racked up beating up on Cornell, Columbia, Harvard, and Brown. I’m perfectly fine with the AP 1st-team AA points as at most 5 teams a year will have a player earn that distinction. Perhaps they should have thrown in a National POY bonus as that player is the one who usually defines the season (Ralph Sampson, Christian Laettner, etc.). Likewise, I’m in agreement with the 3 points for the 2nd round NCAA tournament loss.

• Player in top 10 of NBA draft … 2
• NCAA first-round win as a 12-16 seed … 2
• NIT title … 2
• AP second-team All-American … 2

- This is where it starts to get really weird. Let’s get the reasonable things out of the way first. Top 10 pick worth 2 points? Ok. That seems fine even if the draft was dominated by high schoolers and Euros for a few years. In the future, the one-and-done rule might make this benefit the schools that are willing to take the one-and-done guys even if it does hurt their APR. That is unless those guys start going to Europe. Cinderella getting 2 points for a 1st-round upset? Fine with this too even if we will all remember the Hampton upset of Iowa State more than we will remember the annual 5-12 upsets. AP second-team AA worth 2 points? Ok with this one too even if I think once you start getting to the 2nd team the players selected start getting more dependent on the voters. I’m too lazy to check this out (perhaps rtmsf can do it), but I’d be willing to venture there is a lot more variation in the guys selected to the 2nd team by various publications/groups than there is with the 1st team. Now for the crazy one. . .Awarding 2 points for a NIT title? Maybe in the 1950s, but today winning the NIT only makes you the butt-end of every more successful team in your conference. How many message board threads have trolls made mocking the 65th (now 66th) best team in country? I’ll admit that the NIT champs would probably beat the 13-16 seeds most of the time, but is there really any pride in being the small fish (mediocre team) in the big ponds (power conference) that can beat up on the plankton (13-16 seeds)? I’d give the NIT champ 1 point overall, which leads into the next big problem. . .

• 20-29 wins in a season … 1
• NCAA tournament berth … 1
• Postseason NIT berth … 1
• AP third-team All-American … 1

- Let’s get the easy ones out of the way. No problems here with the 20-29 wins or AP 3rd team AA getting 1 point. I would probably differentiate between 20-24 wins, which is usually a solid season, and 25-29 wins, which usually will put you into consideration for a top 4 seed if you’re from a power conference. Like I said before the further down the AA list you go, the more variation you will have by publication/group, but it’s not really worth arguing about for 1 point. The thing worth arguing about is giving the same number of points for a NCAA tournament berth and a postseason NIT berth. To borrow an over-used phrase from John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!” While I recognize that in this system the NIT team can only receive 2 points from the tournament (if they win), it is ridiculous to even consider invitations to the 2 tournament similar when the entire selection special is based on camera crews camping out in rooms with bubble teams to see if they got into the NCAA tournament. Maybe the ESPN stat whizzes have access to different camera feeds than I do, but it seems like the players, coaches, and families are happier when they get into the NCAA tournament than when they find out they are going to the NIT (even if Madison Square Garden is a slight upgrade from Boise, Idaho–unless we’re talking NBA). That’s just one man’s interpretation of the reactions I see although I could probably point out that a few years ago Georgetown declined an invitation to the NIT because they wanted to give their players more time to study for exams. . .in March. I wonder why Georgetown didn’t turn down its #2 seed this year. Do John Thompson III and the Georgetown AD not care about those same exams any more?

• NCAA first-round loss to a 12-16 seed … -2
• Losing season … -3
• Ban from NCAA tournament … -3

- No problem with the first two although I wonder if a losing season is counted against you if you have it expunged from your record and throw your long-time assistant coach under the bus? Also, I’d consider a 15-16 season a disappointment while I would consider 8-20 a complete embarrassment, so I’d probably make the less than 10-win season a significantly bigger penalty. I think the NCAA tournament ban should be a much larger penalty in this scoring system as the public (and press) reaction tends to be pretty bad (see below).

This is only a 3 point deduction per year?
This is only a 3 point deduction per year?

>> Minimum 15 seasons in Division I
** Ties are broken by overall winning percentage since the 1984-85 season

- After all the issues with the scoring system, I’m not going to complain about these minor qualifiers and tiebreakers. Both of them seem reasonable and none of the top 50 teams were tied.

Now that we’ve looked the methodology it’s time to pick apart the rankings to see what ESPN got right and what they screwed up. Duke is the run-away winner as even the most ardent Duke-hater (feel free to chime in here rtmsf) would agree that Coach K’s Blue Devils have been the most dominant program of the era even if their results have been underwhelming the past few years. The Blue Devils are followed by the Jayhawks in 2nd and the Tar Heels in 3rd. I’m not going to argue much with this although I would have UNC in 2nd just because I consider Kansas a team that historically underperforms in the tournament (Mario Chalmers’ shot and Danny and the Miracles not withstanding). Now onto the rankings I am utterly confused by.

Overated:
- UNLV: 8th?!? I loved Jerry Tarkanian’s Runnin’ Rebs, who may have been one of the best college teams ever even if they lost/threw the 1991 national semifinal against Duke, but there is no way this has been the 8th most prestigious program in the country over the past 20+ years just like Memphis isn’t in that category. ESPN provides a pretty clear summary of why UNLV shouldn’t be in the top 10: “2 NCAA sanctions; 10 coaches since 1984-85; 0 NCAA tourney wins between 1992 and 2007″. I’d keep UNLV in the top 20, but they definitely don’t belong in the top 10 with that track record.
- Xavier: The Muskeeters (at #17) have a nice Atlantic-10 program, but the fact that they have never made a Final 4 should automatically keep them out of the top 25. The Musketeers are buoyed by 21 combined conference titles, but have not really been a threat in the NCAA tournament having only racked up 15 NCAA tournament wins. Interestingly, Xavier came in 2 spots ahead of Cincinnati even though Xavier is widely considered the red-headed stepchild in the city.
- Temple: I don’t mean to sound like Billy Packer ripping on the mid-majors (sorry, if you’re not a BCS conference, you’re a mid-major in my eyes), but the Owls never made the Final 4 despite five trips there under John Chaney. I think they’re a very good program, but like Xavier, Temple shouldn’t be in the Top 25 without a Final 4 appearance.
- Murray State: Now this is the point where I rip the little guy. I was absolutely stunned when I saw this one. The Racers always seem to be one of those teams you see at the bottom of the bracket and maybe every once in a while you decide to take a chance on them to pull off the huge upset. Unfortunately, if you’re one of those people, you’ve only been rewarded once (1988 against 3rd-seeded NC State). The Racers piled up the points by dominating the Ohio Valley Conference racking up 22 (or 24 depending on your addition skills) conference titles and twelve 20+ win seasons (thanks to an easy conference schedule). Somehow this manages to put them above Villanova, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, and Wake Forest.

Underrated:
- Maryland: The Terps (28th) are killed by the fact that they play in the ACC and have lost out on a ton of points thanks to playing in the same conference as Duke and UNC. Although Gary Williams hasn’t had good teams the past few years, the Terps run especially in the Juan Dixon era should have been enough to propel them into the top 20. How does this program only rank 2 spots ahead of Murray State?
- Utah: I don’t think the Utes would be able to move up much higher, but it would be interesting to see how high they would be on this list if they didn’t have the misfortune of playing Kentucky so many times in the 1990s. While the Utes benefited playing in a softer conference than some of their peers on the list (SEC and ACC), the Mountain West has been a fairly strong conference in recent years.
- Florida: I’m not sure how much higher the Gators could move up because of their relative lack of success (not counting Lon Kruger’s 1994 Final 4 run) before Joakim Noah and company ran off back-to-back titles, but it seems like that alone should be enough to crack the top 20 especially when programs like Xavier and Temple are ranked ahead of them despite not making a single Final 4 appearance. The Gators probably belong in the top 15 although that may be more of a recency effect, but it just seems that there recent run puts them at a level that isn’t that much different than UNLV with its run with Larry Johnson.

Other points of interest:
- Coach K’s current program (Duke) ranks #1. The program he left (Army) comes in tied for 298th, or as it is more commonly referred to “DFL”. Hopefully the Duke athletic department program has a better succession plan in place than Army did when Coach K decides to leave the sidelines.
- I found this rather amusing from personal experience. Boston University comes in at 108th ahead of programs such as Clemson, Providence (with a Final 4 appearance), Washington, and USC.
- In the current SportsNation voting, Kentucky is in the lead (good work out of the Sea of Blue crowd) with Duke in 4th even though they have the most #1 votes (something tells me they were left off a lot of ballots or voted 25th). The three teams I singled out as being overrated in the top 25 were moved down quite a bit. Note: I thought they were overrated even before I saw the online voting.

No bonus points for Dream Teamers?
No bonus points for Dream Teamers?
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07.25.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 25th, 2008

Some things we’ve missed while lounging in a pool of indignant contempt (and mineral hot springs)with Lute Olson, Kevin O’Neill and friends the past few weeks…

  • It’s Extension Season! - Davidson’s Bob McKillop (3 more yrs until 2015-16), UCLA’s Ben Howland (7 yrs at approximately $2M per until 2014-15), Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl (1 more yr until 2013-14, but with a raise that will average out to $2.3M per over that span), Notre Dame’s Mike Brey (2 more yrs until 2014-15), Temple’s Fran Dunphy (2 more yrs through 2013-14), and Oregon’s Ernie Kent (3 more yrs until 2012-13) all got their wives a new car last week.
  • UCLA’s AD Dan Guerrero is the new NCAA Tournament Committee chairman for 2009-10.   Expect UCLA to play in Pauley and the Staples Center during its first four rounds that year.
  • Tim Floyd breathed a sigh of relief when he learned last week that Demar DeRozan passed the ACT and will be eligible next season for his Trojans.  DeRozan is a likely 1-and-done, which means Lute Olson has vowed to not recruit players like him for the rest of his career (still feeling the burn of Jennings and Bayless, Lute?)
  • Gonzaga forward and RTC fav Austin Daye both tore and didn’t tear his ACL at the Lebron Skills Camp recently.  He should be ok for the upcoming season. 
  • Welcome to the Kyle Taber Hoosiers.  Speaking of which, ex-Hoosier Jordan Crawford is transferring to Xavier. 
  • Memphis guard Doneal Mack has decided to return to Calipari’s squad after all – he had previously stated that he was transferring to the University of FEMA New Orleans. 
  • This is interesting.  Georgia Tech center Ra’Sean Dickey has decided to forgo his senior season so that he can begin his professional career in Ukraine?  Wow, thie Euro thing is starting to heat up, eh?
  • The fall of former Florida gambler guard and gunner Teddy Dupay is now complete.  He was recently charged with rape, aggravated sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping of a Utah woman, according to court documents. 
  • It’s sayonara to the Top of the World Classic in Alaska.
  • The extremely poorly situated Kentucky Basketball Museum closed its doors in the face of large financial losses. 
  • We wanted to get a take in on the Brandon Jennings Experiment, as articulately described by N-Bug upon BJ’s announcement that he’ll spend his “1-and-done” year playing in Europe.  Generally, we think this will be a disaster and wouldn’t be surprised if Jennings absolutely submerges his draft stock during the season (that is, until he returns next spring and excels in the 1-on-1 workouts given by teams).  Gottlieb nailed it when he pointed out that EuroLeague ball is of a much-higher quality than what Jennings probably thinks it is (and certainly well above college hoops).  Lots of risk of exposure here for Jennings.  Bad decision. 
  • Gary Parrish makes a compelling point about the inherent conflict of interest in referees working for schools calling games on international trips and scrimmages, then turning around and calling games for those same teams during the season.  As you may recall, we wrote exactly a year ago that the Donaghy situation happens way more than anyone thinks, and this is just another loophole that encourages it. 
  • Maybe we’re cynical, but there has to be a Shawn Kemp is Broke story somewhere in this tender piece by Luke Winn.
  • Davidson’s Stephen Curry has noticed that his life has changed after his spectacular March run.
  • Where does Super Mario’s shot rank in the all-time great NCAA shots pantheon?  His former teammate Sherron Collins won’t have to worry about watching the highlight from the pokey, as prosecutors stated there was not enough evidence to substantiate allegations against him stemming from an alleged incident in an elevator with a woman on the KU campus. 
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2008 NBA Draft Musings

Posted by rtmsf on June 27th, 2008

Thanks to N-Bug’s liveblog of the NBA Draft last night, we felt like we were almost in the building sniffing David Stern’s manscent and Darrell Arthur’s ire.  What’s the record for lowest pick of someone in the Green Room?  The best we can muster is Rashard Lewis at #32 ten years ago.  Anyone got a lower pick left stewing in the Green Room all night?

Unfounded Rumors of a Kidney Problem Sunk Arthur’s Stock (photo credit: AP)

Darrell Arthur’s Kidney.  The story of last night’s draft, of course, was the unsubstantiated rumor of a serious undisclosed kidney problem that arose during Darrell Arthur’s medical tests.  Luke Winn details the report much better than we can here, but suffice it to say that it now appears that this kidney issue was a complete red herring, and the Memphis Grizzlies (through two subsequent trades) got an absolute steal at the #27 slot.  Winn suggests that the whispers about Arthur’s health could have cost him in the neighborhood of $1.3M over the course of his rookie contract.  Shouldn’t we just go ahead and put Slim Shady at the top of next year’s ROY contenders (Paul Pierce-style) based upon this slight alone?  He’ll have gobs of additional motivation, that’s for sure. 

One-and-Done Redux.  We’ve written about 1-and-dones until we’re blue in the face, but let’s face it, the Class of 2007 is arguably one of the greatest HS classes of all-time.  Four of the top five picks, seven of the top fourteen, and a record ten of the thirty first-rounders were freshmen.  Throw in the eight sophomores chosen in the first round, and that means 72% of the guaranteed contracts that went to American players were to players with 2 years or less of college experience.  Only five seniors were chosen in the first round, and the first at #12 overall, Jason Thompson from Rider, resulted in a perplexed “who?” from much of the crowd and viewing audience.  Again, there is no question that the NBA rule helped in terms of marketing these players.  Thanks to the Season of the Freshman, every basketball fan in America is now intimately familiar with the games of Derrick Rose, Michael Beasley, OJ Mayo, Kevin Love, and so on.  If they’d all gone pro after high school, we’d have little to no clue what those teams were getting.

Mayo Posing as Stringer Bell (photo credit: SI.com) 

Beautiful Disasters.  Two of the one-and-dones who were bound and determined to stay in the draft no matter what anyone told them were DeAndre Jordan and Bill Walker.  (note: we were happy to see that our feelings of overratedness (see: HoopsAddict podcast at 34:30) with Jordan and Anthony Randolph were corroborated on draft night, although not so much with Russell Westbrook, chosen fourth!)  Both got drafted in the second round (#35 and #47 respectively) but last night had to be severely disappointing to both players, as Jordan was being talked about as a lottery pick earlier this draft season, and Walker last year (before blowing out his knee again).  Does Walker with his former #1 player in his class pedigree and seemingly constant knee injuries remind anyone else of Randy Livingston?  But the prize for biggest clowns of the draft go to USC’s Davon Jefferson and Mississippi State’s Jamont Gordon, both of whom were undrafted last night.  As for Jefferson, this one-and-done prospect declared early, signed with an agent (assuring he couldn’t return to USC), and then proceeded to float his way through the pre-draft camp.  He was a possible second-rounder at that point, but his uninspired effort in Orlando ensured that he would be left on the outside looking in.  Gordon’s situation was even worse, as he completely skipped the pre-draft camp (incredulously assuming he was a first-rounder), also signed with an agent, and otherwise did nothing to show that he was a serious candidate for the draft.  Ok, we get it, you reallyreallyreallyreally want to play in the NBA, and you reallyreallyreallyreally think you’re good enough… but you guys really need to start doing some listening when people who make these decisions (scouts, GMs, draftniks) are telling you otherwise.  Good luck in the D-League, guys.   

Katz discusses some of the other early entry disappointments in last night’s draft. 

Sideshow Bob Was Drafted by the Suns Last Night (photo credit: SI.com)

Conference Call.  A year ago Pac-10 coaches were telling us that they had far and away the most talent in the nation, suggesting that there are as many as a dozen first-round picks on their squads in 2007-08.  Well, it turns out they weren’t that far off, as there were seven first rounders last night, including three of the top five (#3 Mayo, #4 Westbrook, #5 Love, #10 Brook Lopez, #11 Jerryd Bayless, #15 Robin Lopez, #21 Ryan Anderson), and twelve players chosen overall.  Also keep in mind that several other probable first rounders from the Pac-10, such as Darren Collison (UCLA), Chase Budinger (Arizona) and Jeff Pendergraph (Arizona St.) elected to stay in college another year.  The Big 12 was next with nine players chosen, including four first rounders and five (!!) players – tying the 2006 UConn Huskies and 2007 Florida Gators - from the National Champs (#13 Brandon Rush, #27 Darrell Arthur, #34 Mario Chalmers, #52 Darnell Jackson, #56 Sasha Kaun).  Throw in former Jayhawk JR Giddens (#30) and an astonishing six players passed through the KU program en route to this draft.  The SEC had six draft picks, and the Big East and ACC had four each.  The usually-pathetic Big 10 once again finished last among the BCS conferences with only three picks.  See table below.

 

Not NBA Material.  We reserve this spot to formally bid adieu to some of the notable collegians who have entertained us for the last four years, but whom the NBA has decided are not worthy to play in their league.  Drew Neitzel (Michigan St.), Demarcus Nelson (Duke), David Padgett (Louisville), Josh Duncan (Xavier), and Pat Calathes (St. Joseph’s) are but a few of the names we’ll probably never see again unless they become coaches someday.  The honor of the biggest undrafted name, though, goes to Tennessee star and cancer survivor Chris Lofton, who holds the all-time mark in the SEC for three-pointers, and ranks third in NCAA history on that measure.  If there’s one guy we’d bank on finding his way to an NBA court near you in the next couple of years (even for a cup of coffee), it would probably be this kid.  He stares toughness and grit directly in the eyes before they walk away in shame. 

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2008 NBA Draft Profiles: Mario Chalmers

Posted by rtmsf on June 25th, 2008

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to be rolling out our profiles of several of the top expected prospects in the 2008 NBA Draft. Figuring that we’re not the only ones who’ve thought of this, we decided to enlist some help by asking several of the best school-specific bloggers in the land to give us the up-close-and-personal profile of the players they’ve spent all year watching. For example, we probably watched Mario Chalmers play 15 times this year, but we were limited by his games that were on national television and other competing games at the same time. These bloggers know these players – their strengths, their weaknesses, whether they become Black Mamba or channel C-Webb in the clutch, and what kind of team they would best fit with at the next level.

With that said, this submission is from the most excellent Kansas blog, Kansas Jayhawks – It’s Business Time. You gotta love a blog that references Flight of the Conchords in its title – love the sense of humor. Here is their post on Big Shot Mario Chalmers.

I, for one, have always thought that Chalmers had all of the tools to be a very solid NBA contributor. Apparently the general public did not subscribe to that same school of thought until he made a three pointer. A three pointer that was well guarded and tied the national championship game with 2 seconds left in regulation and sent an entire fan base into euphoria, but a three pointer all the same. Up until this moment, Chalmers was considered an early to mid second round pick, well behind Arthur and Rush and often behind Collins as well. Between that shot and a few weeks of workouts, he has now been projected as high as #12 to Sacramento, ahead of all other Jayhawks. Granted that is only one projection and in nearly every other he is behind both Arthur and Rush, but still…crazy how perception can change.

Despite most of Chalmers’ publicity coming from that one shot, I don’t think this attention is unwarranted. This rings especially true to me after watching Rajon Rondo be an integral part of the recently crowned NBA champion, Boston Celtics. Remember, it wasn’t long ago that Rondo and his Kentucky teammates were humiliated in Allen Fieldhouse by the freshman led team of Brandon Rush, Mario Chalmers and Julian Wright. This particular day was Brandon’s, but the point still resonates. When you consider the things that Rondo was drafted for and what he has done well, the primary considerations are defense and his enormous hand size. As far as I know, Mario doesn’t have freakish hands, but he sure does have some long arms and uses them to play some pretty spectacular defense. Given that they’re both listed at roughly 6’1″ and 170 lbs., let’s go ahead and call the size factor a wash. If you want to debate defensive merits, I’d probably say Rondo is better on ball, while Mario is better off the ball. I’d say both have their own level of value and again call this a wash.

But as we all know, as overall players they really aren’t all that similar. Most of what Rondo does offensively is geared around running the offense by getting into the lane with either the intent to finish or distribute. The kindest thing to say about his outside shot is that it’s not his strong suit. Chalmers, on the other hand, has been playing off the ball and has scored a great deal of his points from the three point arc. However, at the pro level, his size will likely move him back to the point, a position he played in high school but moved away from in college, due to sharing the backcourt with Russell Robinson and Sherron Collins. But with that three guard rotation, it’s not exactly like he hasn’t handled the ball since high school. In fact, he actually led the team (and nearly the league) in assist:turnover ratio last year at 2.25. For comparison, Ty Lawson was slightly ahead of him at 2.32, while the lottery-projected DJ Augustin and Derrick Rose were behind him at 2.1 and 1.8, respectively. This certainly isn’t the only indicator of point guard success but it certainly sheds some light on the question; can Chalmers really run the point?

Because if he can, with his scoring ability and defensive prowess he becomes a no-brainer. He can dribble with either hand, he can get into the lane, he’s an extremely gifted passer and along with all of those things, he has a shot defenders will have to respect. He probably won’t be Chris Paul or Deron Williams, but as I alluded to above, there’s no reason to think he can’t immediately be as good as or better than Rondo. I doubt he’s ever a franchise PG or maybe even an all-star, but with adequate minutes, I can see him posting a pretty consistent line of 10(p)-6(a)-4(r)-2(s). And that last sequence really comes to the crux of Mario; he does a little bit of everything. Aside from individual games, his stats are rarely going to jump off the page at you, but he has an innate ability to contribute in nearly every way, especially in the big moments (as you may have heard about lately). His knack for baiting players and even officials, combined with his overall drive and skill set make Mario an ideal player to have on any team. He may not have the physical presence that will allow him to carry a team, but he has every ability to be either an incredible bench player or a solid starter for years to come.

One thing we know for sure, there will never be another Mario Chalmers.

 

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