Morning Five: 03.04.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 4th, 2014

morning5

  1. Coming off Saturday night’s loss at Oklahoma State the big concern out of Lawrence was not the Jayhawks’ loss, but instead was the health of Joel Embiid. Yesterday, Kansas announced that Embiid had reinjured his back and would miss the final two games of the regular season. Embiid could be back in time for the Big 12 Tournament, but with the Jayhawks’ final two games being against Texas Tech and West Virginia it would seem that the Jayhawks are locked into a #2 seed at worst. So while they could play Embiid in the Big 12 Tournament they have no need to do that so we would expect Embiid’s next game to be in the NCAA Tournament.
  2. Normally we would make a big deal out of Roscoe Smith (11 points and 11 rebounds per game) missing Wednesday’s game against San Diego State after suffering a concussion on Saturday, but with UNLV unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament it probably doesn’t affect the big picture. On the other hand, the absence of Isaiah Zierden (3.2 points per game) usually would not merit mentioning here, but with the freshman being out indefinitely after injuring the medial collateral ligament in his right knee it could be a fairly significant blow to Creighton. Zierdan played sparingly at times this year, but has shown flashes of his potential with three double-digit games this season including a 13-point performance against Villanova on February 16.
  3. Like many of you when we first read Mark Cuban‘s comments about how “hypocritical” the NCAA rules for one-and-done players were we were waiting for somebody to tear his argument apart. Mike DeCourcy was happy to oblige pointing out that it was the NBA that is in charge of the one-and-done situation. On some level we can understand Cuban’s logic that there is a better way to develop basketball ability than the current NCAA system he is going about it the wrong way. If he wants to make a change he needs to go to the other owners and the players association to make a change. On a selfish level, we would prefer that he opts to push for an age minimum of 21 years, but whatever option Cuban decides to pursue we hope he will do a little more homework in the future.
  4. Last week on Twitter we mentioned how Doug Gottlieb had been widely criticized for ranking Kentucky #7 in his preseason poll, but looking back on it now it is clear that he ranked them too highly. We also referenced how wrong we were in our preseason rankings with only a handful of teams being +/- 3 spots of where they are now. Dan Hanner took a deeper look into which teams are exceeding or falling short of preseason expectations. Much of his analysis  focuses on his own predictions, but it does offer some interesting insight into polls overall as Hanner analyzes his own work.
  5. We are still a couple of weeks away from what should be a Black Monday for college basketball coaches, but that did not stop Tennessee-Martin from firing Jason James after his fifth consecutive losing season. James, who was an assistant at Tennessee-Martin before taking over as the head coach, finished with a 37-117 record in his five seasons there. The school’s administration commended James for leading running the program with “the highest degree of integrity,” but in the end he simply did not win enough. Although this will make for a vacancy at the Division I level don’t count on a big-name assistant heading to the Ohio Valley Conference so we would guess this job will probably go to an internal candidate or someone who doesn’t have high-major aspirations.
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Morning Five: 09.06.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 6th, 2011

  1. Are we on the verge of the conference realignment free-for-all that we thought was going to happen last summer?  Texas A&M’s insistence on leaving the Big 12 presumably for the greener pastures of the SEC to the east, has the rest of the league running for cover.  Reports over the weekend suggested that once again Texas and Oklahoma are in backroom discussions with the Pac-12 to join the burgeoning west coast league, and like great white sharks in the Pacific, the other four major conferences are circling the remaining schools in hopes of divvying up the rest.  Conventional wisdom is that if Oklahoma bails on the Big 12, the league is effectively finished, but it is the school in Austin who holds the trump card.  One of the sticking points is what the Pac-12 would require UT to do with its Longhorn Sports Network — would it become one of the Pac-12’s new regional networks instead of a ‘national’ channel?  Or will Texas leverage its channel into another sweetheart deal, as suggested as possible on Monday when rumors of an ACC overture to the Longhorns were revealed?  ACC commissioner John Swofford denied that report Monday night, but the possibility of a 16-team basketball league containing Duke, UNC, Maryland, Texas, Syracuse and UConn seems absolutely ridiculous.  In a good way.  The one thing we know from conference realignment madness is that nothing should surprise anyone.  More news on this topic as it merits coverage, but for a comprehensive breakdown of the facts and rumors swirling right now, check out MrSEC’s wrapup from Monday.
  2. Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneurial success story (twice over) Mark Cuban has never been one to hold his tongue on an issue he cares about, and his post on Blog Maverick over the weekend is no different.  Bucking conventional wisdom to a certain extent, Cuban argues that the headfirst plunge by several schools into a group of a few superconferences will turn out to be a “huge mistake.”  He lists several intriguing reasons to support his argument, but the most compelling from our viewpoint was his discussion of how adding schools to a conference will not increase the value of the television contracts of the bigger league.  There must be some exceptions to this ‘rule,’ as in an example where Texas joins any other conference, but Cuban has forgotten more about media rights and deal-making than we’ll ever know so we’re generally inclined to figure he knows what he’s talking about here.
  3. Regardless of how the conference realignment mess ultimately settles out, the development and existence of Texas’ Longhorn Network has led to an arms race among individual schools seeking to reach their fans in the most direct way.  Over the weekend, another Big 12 school announced its response, as the University of Missouri is set to launch Internet-based The Mizzou Network on December 1.  The mostly free channel will broadcast games and competitions from non-revenue sports in addition to ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses at Tiger football and basketball, but it’s clear that the Texas/ESPN deal has put the pressure on athletic departments around the nation to progress or get left behind.  It’s yet to be determined whether a cable television model in the mold of LHN (currently having trouble getting traction with national carriers) or a fully digital network in the mold of Missouri’s (which can reach all of its fans directly) produces better outcomes for the school, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the biggest winners will be fans with team-specific content available to them 24/7.
  4. Now that schools are back in session for the fall semester almost everywhere, this is the time of year we start to see players with too much free time on their hands getting into trouble prior to returning to full-time practice in six weeks.  Over the weekend, Wake Forest sophomore guard JT Terrell was discovered asleep at the wheel of his car and charged with a DWI for a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.  Terrell, a promising freshman last season who averaged 11.1 PPG for the Demon Deacons, has since withdrawn from the school and is reported to be suffering from a “serious medical condition.”  Terrell represents the fourth WFU player to leave the school under difficult circumstances in the year-plus since head coach Jeff Bzdelik arrived. Wake also announced that senior center Ty Walker will not become eligible to join the team until after the fall semester, stemming from a suspension placed upon him in July.
  5. Moving over the Missouri Valley Conference, Drake also announced that two of its players including its leading returning scorer, Rayvonte Rice, will be suspended effective immediately for their alleged role in a petty shoplifting incident.  He and teammate Kurt Alexander, a senior guard, are accused of putting two packages of athletic socks into a bag and exiting a Finish Line store without paying for them.  Rice had one of the best freshman seasons in the history of Drake basketball last year, averaging 13.8 PPG, 4.8 RPG and also leading the team in blocks and steals.  He was a member of the MVC all-freshman and all-newcomer teams and was expected to become an all-MVC performer this year.  The two players told the police officer on the scene that they were “young and dumb” to explain their actions, and to that comment we can do nothing more than shake our heads.  Young and dumb, indeed.
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East Region Game by Game Previews – 1st Round (pt. 2)

Posted by nvr1983 on March 20th, 2009

EAST REGION GAME PREVIEWS – PART TWO (By Dave Zeitlin and Steve Moore)

Once again, we will be picking the East Regional games, while also pitting non-basketball alums from each school in a no-holds barred battle for March supremacy.

Friday’s Games – Dayton, Ohio

(8) Oklahoma State vs. (9) Tennessee (12:25 p.m.)

DZ: This match-up is about as even as they come. Both teams play fast-paced, high-scoring basketball. The Cowboys’ James Anderson (18.6 ppg) will be the best player on the court, but the Vols are stronger in the interior with Tyler Smith (17 ppg) and Wayne Chism (13.8 ppg). I’ll go with Bruce Pearl and the Vols here – but you might be better off just flipping a coin.

SM: Usually, these 8 vs. 9 games include at least one so-called mid-major team against a BCS conference team, and I usually lean toward the little guy with my pick. But as the only 8/9 game between two mediocre big boys, this is a total toss up. I have to go with the team I know more about, and that would be Tyler Smith and Tennessee. The real question is whether Bruce Pearl will break out the day-glo orange blazer.

Alumni Throwdown – Gary Busey (Oklahoma State) vs. Chris Hadfield (Tennessee)

DZ: Like the real game, this has all the makings of a great match-up with an actor lost in space going up against the first Canadian to walk in space. But the astronaut wins when Busey gets distracted trying to figure out the life force of a basketball.

SM: Busey had a great turn in a recent season of Entourage. But once you’ve appeared on a reality show called Celebrity Rehab, you’re disqualified. I’ll go with the Canadian astronaut, eh?

(16) East Tennessee State vs. (1) Pittsburgh (2:55 p.m.)

DZ: If the national championship hopeful Panthers have a hard time with this one, they could be in trouble. High-scoring guard Kevin Tiggs (21.5 ppg) helped ETSU win the Atlantic Sun tournament championship, but you may have heard Pitt has a couple of stars in its own in DeJuan Blair (15.6 ppg, 12.4 rpg) and Sam Young (18.8 ppg). The Panthers coast into the second round.

SM: I’ll lay it on the line – Pitt is my pick to win it all. So if they show ANY signs of trouble against a school whose finest alum is a late bishop, my bracket could be in trouble. Tiggs may be a small-conference gunner against Lipscomb and South Carolina-Upstate (yeah, that’s a real school), but DeJuan Blair is a big enough force to block out the (Atlantic) Sun. Panthers rest the starters late, and still run away by 20-plus.

Alumni Throwdown – Bishop Earl G. Hunt Jr. (East Tennessee State) vs. Mark Cuban (Pittsburgh)

DZ: It will take a wing and prayer for ETSU to beat Pitt, but prayers are what the late bishop has (sorry, there aren’t many famous ETSU alums). Look for the bishop to prove faith is stronger than money by knocking off the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks in the feel-good upset of the (fake) tournament.

SM: I don’t want to vote against a bishop, but I also don’t want Mark Cuban to rip me on his blog or his Twitter or whatever it is the kids are doing these days. Cuban politely edges Bishop Hunt in this one, but then gets fined by David Stern for excessive celebration.

Friday’s Games – Boise, Idaho

(4) Xavier vs. (13) Portland State (7:25 p.m.)

DZ: The Musketeers notched some signature wins early but have just a .500 record since Feb. 7. Meanwhile, pint-sized guard Jeremiah Dominguez, the two-time Big Sky MVP, fuels a very good shooting Portland State team that knocked off Gonzaga, on the road, earlier in the season. Xavier is a tourney-tested team under head coach Sean Miller, but I like Portland State here in the East Region’s upset special.

SM: I’m on record saying Xavier is a little high as a four seed, but Portland State may be the one team in this region with an even more favorable ranking. I was the one person who watched the Vikings win the Big Sky title at the buzzer, and they did not look like a 13 seed. The Musketeers handle their business rather easily in this one. After that, though, I make no promises.

Alumni Throwdown – Robert Romanus (Xavier) vs. Holly Madison (Portland State)

DZ: Madison, one of Heff’s girlfriends on Girls Next Door, matched up against the actor who played Mike Damone in Fast Times at Ridgemont High? This one would be over before it starts with the Playboy model easily wooing the overconfident sleazeball. (“I woke up in a great mood. I don’t know what the hell happened.”)

SM: Blondes aren’t usually my thing, but in this matchup, it’s a no-brainer. I mean she’s a Playmate, for goodness sake. Personally, I would’ve gone with Phillies legend and Xavier grad Jim Bunning, but a certain Mets’ fan picked this alumni matchup. At least he has a World Series title to back it … oh, wait.

(5) Florida State vs. (12) Wisconsin (9:55 p.m.)

DZ: Averaging over 20 points per game, the Seminoles’ Toney Douglas is one of the best players in the region. But Wisconsin is a pretty solid team for a 12 seed, allowing less than 60 points per contest. Florida State should win a close one, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see a 12-13 game in Round 2 here.

SM: I’m much higher on the Big Ten than most folks this year (Purdue to the Elite 8!), but not in this case. The Badgers have been totally unimpressive this year, and first-round games are often decided by the best player on the floor. In this case, that is FSU’s Toney Douglas – this year’s breakout star in the East Region. The ’Noles win a tight one late, possibly on a Douglas trifecta.

Alumni Throwdown – Burt Reynolds (Florida State) vs. Stephen Ambrose (Wisconsin)

DZ: Because why wouldn’t we pit a famous actor and former Florida State football player against a late historian and author of Band of Brothers? I’m going with cool guy Reynolds since Ambrose was accused of plagiarizing one of my old professors at Penn.

SM: That’s the best a large state school like Wisconsin has to offer? No Bud Selig, Steve Miller, Joan Cusack, or Charles Lindbergh? This one goes to Burt Reynolds in a landslide. The man nearly stole the show in Boogie Nights – a film that included Heather Graham and not a lot of clothing.

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Tim Donaghy Scandal Fallout

Posted by rtmsf on July 21st, 2007

Much is going to be made over the next week over the disclosure broken Friday by the New York Post that Tim Donaghy, a veteran NBA referee, allegedly became heavily indebted through illegal gambling and was using his position as an official to manipulate point spreads by proxy of organized crime. In other words… pointshaving, quite possibly the dirtiest word in sports. The only good news for the NBA was that the news hit on a summer Friday afternoon after a week of wall-to-wall Michael Vick and Barry Bonds-related outrage coverage.

Tim Donaghy and Kobe

“Kobe, do you think you could help a fellow Philadelphian out here?”

The outcry already predictably ranges from the overtly dismissive from Nate Jones at AOL Fanhouse:

For some reason the ref story isn’t that big of a deal to me. Unless of course it comes out that the ref is 2006 Finals MVP Bennett Salvatore. I feel like there are bad apples in EVERY organization. So it’s not a surprise that one ref out of all of the refs in the history of basketball decided to go down the gambling route.

And Greg Anthony at espn.com:

While some who are critical of the NBA point to this being an organization’s problem, I see this more as probably one man’s human error.

To Bomani Jones of Page 2 accusing NBA brass of negligence for not sniffing this out sooner through its review process:

Should the reports be true, Donaghy worked for a league that couldn’t catch on to what he was doing. For all we know, the NBA couldn’t tell if Donaghy was blind as Jose Feliciano or as connected as Jack Molinas. In spite of having mountains of data on officiating, enough to produce a rebuttal to a scholarly paper about whether foul calls are affected by the race of the referee and the player whistled for the infraction, the NBA apparently couldn’t tell something was awry. That’s all bad for the NBA, and probably worse than it would be for any other league. After decades of cockamamie conspiracy theories and a season that will be remembered more for tanking than playing, the last thing the NBA needs is anything that could give credence to any allegations of shady business. Especially if the shade was brought on by negligence. Absolutely, corruption is worse than incompetence. But what’s worse than both of them? Hiring someone corrupt and not knowing any better.

To using this incident as a proactive agent of change, as Mark Cuban suggests in blog maverick:

Every company of any size has had a problem(s) that its CEO and stakeholders have lost sleep over. Its the law of big numbers. If enough things go on, something is going to go wrong. Products get recalled or are tampered with. There are workplace disasters. There is corruption. No industry is immune. Churches, consumer products, law enforcement, cars, planes, trains and plenty more. No profession is immune. From the CEO who misrepresents corporate numbers or events at the expense of shareholders, to the doorman who tips himself from the cover charge at the expense of the club owner, people of every profession make bad decisions. Shit happens. Bad Shit happens. When it does, there are two options. Cry over it and do nothing or recognize the problem and do the best you possibly can to not only fix it, but make the entire organization stronger.

To the downright apocalyptic from Jennifer Engel at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram:

Whatever his previous failings, and his handling of that little Suns-Spurs brouhaha immediately jumps to mind, Stern obviously understands what is in danger of being lost. You. The fan. The guy who is left wondering what, if anything, you saw in the NBA was real. He understands this poses a far more insidious danger to his league than Vick does to the NFL or Bonds to Major League Baseball. They can make Vick go away. Bonds eventually will go away. Doubt is far tougher to suspend. Which is why the NBA has scoreboard on every other sport for the worst of the bad weeks.

To the Vegas reaction from NBA aficianado David Aldridge:

There was no detectable change in betting patterns in Las Vegas casinos on NBA games during the last couple of years, according to Jay Kornegay, who runs the sports book at the Las Vegas Hilton and spoke by telephone today. “We usually hear something if there’s some unusual movement or unusual betting patterns. . . . There’s usually some kind of discussions about them. We don’t remember anything like that,” Kornegay said. Kornegay said he wasn’t concerned about taking action on NBA games in the future. Sports book betting makes up only about 2 percent of all betting action, he said “We are a very well-regulated industry out here, and I have all the faith in the world in our system,” he said. “I’m more disappointed than concerned. It doesn’t just shake the NBA; it shakes the whole sports world.”

To the silly, from freedarko.com:

But in another way, this is really good for the league. Fine, some games–most likely regular season ones, which everyone agrees mean nothing–were competitively tainted. Yet this most ordinary of sports scandals might serve as a reality check on all the stupid shit people say about the NBA. This is how things are weird in a sport; the commish doesn’t write the script for the postseason in advance, the refs are programmed to give close calls to whoever garners the highest ratings, and China isn’t secretly controlling the whole thing from behind the muslin curtain.

To Marty Burns at cnnsi.com discussing the referees’ collective feelings:

We’re angry. We’re angry. That’s for sure,” he said. “It’s not fair that one guy, one bad apple, brings down the whole officiating [staff]. It’ll trickle down to the college game, too. Every controversial call at the end of a game, somebody will question it… “I am sick of having to defend ourselves. We just got over the IRS thing, and now we have to defend ourselves all over again.”

To the deserving self-aggrandizement of Unsilent at Deadspin for “calling it” (did he have money on which ref it was?):

Just as I predicted Donaghy was identified as the target of the FBI’s gambling investigation. [...] Of all the refs I heckled last year there were only two that could really piss me off. One was a dick (Steve Javie) and the other was either the most incompetent referee alive or a soulless shell of humanity with mob ties. I have no idea whether he had money riding on any of the seven Wizards games I watched him work this season, but it sure would clear things up a bit.

To Jack McCallum at cnnsi.com quoting pejorative attacks on the man’s character:

The league source close to Philly put it this way: “He’s the kind of guy who is always in fights. When he was a kid, you’d see him throwing rocks at cars. He’s just an asshole. No one likes the guy. He’s always in fights on the golf course, that kind of thing. He’s a very antagonistic guy. When you have too many enemies, one of them comes back to bite you.”

In other words, a little bit of everything. Already we’re seeing evidence of every local NBA paper taking a closer look at games in which Donaghy worked. Feel free to interpret “worked” in any way you choose there. We’ll be back tomorrow with a closer look at how we feel sports gambling potentially impacts sports at both the collegiate and professional levels. Our essential conclusion is that this sort of thing happens a lot more than we all think. Unfortunately.

Update:  Simmons puts his ten cents worth here while Henry Abbott at TrueHoop and Dan Shanoff call for transparency.

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Mark Cuban’s Little Shop of PEDs

Posted by rtmsf on May 8th, 2007

In June’s Men’s Journal magazine, Mark Cuban has created a bit of a stir by saying that, as long as performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) do not cause harm to the athletes, he doesn’t see anything wrong with their use in sports. Maybe his reaction is a response to the Mavs’ somnambulant appearance last week during the Warriors – if anyone needed an “upper,” it was those guys – but it is an interesting proposition.

Again, the assumption here is that a PED of the future would not cause physical, mental or emotional harm to the athlete – we can all agree that any substance that does so should be banned from sports. But what about a safe substance that can be prescribed and monitored by a physician that would put an extra 2-3 mph on that fastball; or allow your vertical to increase a couple more inches? Some might say we already do this, with our GNC-driven supplements, antioxidants, and other mystical powders and analgesics. And what about treatment of injuries? Science has made leaps and bounds with its ability to get athletes back on the field or court at a high level and quickly – is that not another form of constantly evolving performance enhancement? Read the rest of this entry »

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