Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.28.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 28th, 2012

  1. Craig Robinson will never complain about officiating. Except when he does. Robinson called Oregon State’s loss Sunday night against Oregon a “poorly officiated game,” taking particular exception to a foul called on Eric Moreland during a struggle for a rebound with 10 seconds left and the general lack of fouls called in favor of Jared Cunningham. Robinson called for Cunningham to “get treated like one of the best players,” seemingly meaning that his star player should get calls that other players in the league don’t necessarily get. We all know that this type of subjective officiating goes on, and we know that coaches certainly want their players to get calls whenever possible, but the idea of a coach calling for referees to adjust their officiating to reward a star player? Please. Leave that nonsense to the NBA.
  2. Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena is a gleaming new state-of-the-art facility that makes an already appealing Oregon basketball program that much more of a force in the Pac-12. That doesn’t mean that everything is going along without a hitch in Eugene. A report issued on Monday showed that financial revenue projections for the arena have been drastically cut, dropping by as much as 30% in some revenue categories, and that the athletic department will likely show annual net deficits for as many as five years beginning in 2013. As is usually the case with these types of projects, the revenue projections may have been purposefully inflated in order to increase the appeal of the building, and now that the project is complete, those projections are free to return to reality. Case in point, while the revenue for men’s basketball ticketing looks like it will hit about $2.4 million for this year, that number is down $400,000 from previous projections.
  3. Arizona State guard Trent Lockett may be a junior in terms of eligibility, but in terms of academic performance, he’s already a senior well on his way to becoming a graduate. Lockett began taking courses at ASU even before officially graduating from high school and is currently taking 23 credits this semester while still being a team leader on the basketball team. He’s got a 3.3 cumulative GPA and should earn a degree in business communication. All in all, a great story for a Sun Devil program that is in need of great stories right now. Here’s hoping, for Herb Sendek’s sake, this story doesn’t turn into something like this. Other fanbases are already beginning such speculation.
  4. Most of the talk around the conference Coach of the Year award has centered around names like Tad Boyle, Mike Montgomery and even Dana Altman – all fine choices, to be sure. But what about Lorenzo Romar? He’s taken a team that was projected to finish fourth in the conference prior to the season and turned them into a team on the verge of a regular season title with a 22-8 overall record that features close losses to Duke and Marquette along with some other less palatable losses. He’s taken a team that had some chemistry problems early in the year and built a coherent squad that has significantly improved as the year has gone on. For me, it comes down to Romar or Boyle, and while I agree that Romar’s coaching job is looking better and better by the week, I’m still blown away by Boyle’s success in his first year in the conference.
  5. The flip side of the COY discussion is the hot seat discussion, and The Husky Haul took a crack at that yesterday, ranking Kevin O’Neill, Herb Sendek, Craig Robinson, Johnny Dawkins and Larry Krystkowiak as the five most likely to be swept aside. There are serious problems with this list, beginning with the inclusion of Krystkowiak here; if anything, the Utes have overachieved this season given the dearth of talent in Salt Lake City. Sendek and Dawkins have both recently received contract extensions as well, and seem unlikely to be going anywhere (although their seats are both definitely warming), while USC athletic director Pat Haden has made it very clear that O’Neill will get a pass for this season’s failures. And while Oregon State’s season will go down as a disappointment, it seems like Robinson at least has his team moving in the right direction. Odds are, none of those schools will be looking for new coaches this offseason. In fact, if there was to be a coaching change this year, Ben Howland at UCLA or Ken Bone at Washington State would be more likely to be relieved of their duties than any of the five on this list. In the end, my guess is that we’ll have the same 12 coaches back in this conference next season.
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Morning Five: 03.03.11 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on March 3rd, 2011

  1. Jason Wright of the Deseret News sums up what he saw from the San Diego State students during last Saturday’s BYU vs SDSU game, and is still none too happy about it. After reading his account, we had some questions of our own for him: how can you blame the crowd for your daughter hearing that often-used and ineffective two-syllable expletive chant (it’s one word, by the way, Jason) after a bad call when it’s your hand holding the remote? You shouldn’t have had a problem changing the channel if this really was one of two games you’ve watched from start to finish this year, as you admit. And as far as BYU going off “to find other places to play?” Well, they did. Care to wager if the reception is any better in the WCC next season?
  2. This isn’t a recycling of a previous M5 nugget, but it is a link to a story about a former Michigan State guard transferring to Iowa State. Last summer, it was Chris Allen. Now it’s Korie Lucious who’s headed to Ames. They’ll practice but won’t play together, since Allen will be on the court next year, a season Lucious must sit out before he returns for 2012-2013. Korie cited ISU coach Fred Hoiberg’s NBA connections as a reason for choosing the Cyclones.
  3. At the Villanova @ Seton Hall game on February 15th, it has been alleged that the partner of Keon Lawrence’s mother (Lawrence had already been dismissed from the team) assaulted the mother of SHU guard Jordan Theodore in the stands. Later that night, Theodore, flanked by two dudes in ski masks, allegedly knocked on Lawrence’s dorm room door while packing a gun. Yeesh. Theodore now faces a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm on school property, despite the questionable testimony that led to it.
  4. The glare problem in Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena has been remedied, but the midcourt line controversy remains. That may soon change. In this story at the blog of The Oregonian, floor designer Tinker Hatfield comments on his inspiration for the court’s design, how he loves the controversy about it, what the symbols on the floor mean, and the competitive advantages that may be inherent in the design. As a defense for the lack of a highly visible half court line, he says that the center line at Kansas‘ Allen Fieldhouse is partially obscured by the large Jayhawk logo at midcourt [Ed. note: I’m looking at KU’s floor as I type this, and the whole center line is visible].
  5. Tell us we haven’t seen the last of Fang Mitchell at Coppin State. The Eagles have been to the NCAA Tournament four times (1990, 1993, 1997, 2008) and Mitchell has been at the helm for each one. In his 26-year tenure, he’s won four MEAC Coach of the Year awards, and from 1992-98 his squads won 54 of 55 conference games. It’s been a tough decade for CSU, though, despite this year’s squad posting a 10-5 MEAC record going into their senior night game this evening against Morgan State. The Baltimore Sun’s Ken Murray writes that the winds of change may be swirling in Baltimore. Despite his evidence, we still hope it isn’t true.
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Morning Five: 01.14.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 14th, 2011

  1. Villanova is ranked in the top ten and may seem like its in a similar position to what it was last season when the Wildcats roared to a 20-1 start.  But things are different this time around, says head coach Jay Wright, as his team has bought into playing better defense and sharing the ball en route to a 15-1 record so far this year.  We can buy it.  Villanova looked worn down by the end of last season, and their big men (particularly Mouph Yarou) were not quite ready for prime time.  This year’s team has yet to play a road game against a legitimate team, so we’ll reserve judgment until we see how they do in trips to Storrs and Syracuse in coming weeks.
  2. Ugh.   The father of the teenager who is accusing an unnamed Washington player of sexual assault in Seattle has come out to say that he is “outraged” that the player is still on the team and playing basketball.  He said that his daughter has not yet been back to school since the alleged incident, and it “boils his blood” that he feels the police and university are protecting the player.  This sounds like it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.  We have no idea who this player might be, but it’s interesting that the father said the player went to a liquor store prior to taking the girl back to her apartment.  Does this mean he’s at least 21 years old?
  3. Oregon opened its brand-new, Phil Knight-funded Matthew Knight Arena on Thursday night with a win over USC.  In case you missed it or forgot what their new court looks like, take a gander at this.  Yes, in HD it looks even worse than expected.
  4. We have it on great authority that Luke Winn pulled an all-nighter to get his latest Power Rankings up this week.  And here we thought all along that it was all in his head, expelled onto his laptop in a mere twenty minutes or less.  The new #1 is, not surprisingly, Ohio State, but as usual, you’ll learn more about the sport in 15 minutes reading his column that you will by spending hours in most other places the entire rest of the week.  Oh, and he also churned out a column on Duke’s loss to Florida State Wednesday night, just for good measure.
  5. One day after Memphis’ second consecutive loss at SMU, Josh Pastner indefinitely suspended junior Wesley Witherspoon for mocking an assistant coach during the bus ride home, “going as far as getting on the bus’ loudspeakers and doing an impression of the coach.”  All we can say is… wow.  Who does this after an embarrassing loss?  Who does this, period?
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ATB: Ow, My Eyes!

Posted by jstevrtc on January 14th, 2011

The Lede. Thursday night was angry because it had to follow Wednesday night’s ridiculous bounty of hoops and the Florida State upset of Duke. Still, there were some compelling storylines to follow on tonight’s slate, including a streak on the line at Minnesota, some serious glare coming off the Jackson Pollock painting that is Oregon’s new floor, and whether or not Seth Greenberg and Virginia Tech would have enough players to finish their game at North Carolina.

Your Watercooler Moment. For those in the East who stayed up long enough to see it, here’s a look at what people saw on the broadcast of the debut of Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena:

The glare you see is not a product of taking a picture of a television with a camera. In reality, it looked even worse than this. The central part (the “non-tree” portion) of the floor is comprised of very light-colored wood, and as you can see, the light from the long strip of lights along the ceiling bounces right off of that wood, through the camera, and onto your screaming retinas. In high-def it was atrocious, and if the game was shown on HDTVs in sports bars around the country, it could aptly be described as a civic danger. During the game, everybody from Sports Illustrated writers to ESPN personalities were commenting on it through Twitter; one friend even said he had to wear sunglasses while watching the game. The hot shots who came up with the design for this court should be able to figure out some lighting scheme that will provide sufficient illumination for basketball while also letting home viewers enjoy the floor in all its, er…glory. Let’s hope so.

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Morning Five: 01.07.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 7th, 2011

  1. It’s been a very difficult season in St. Louis after its two stars were thrown out of school for disciplinary reasons last fall and Rick Majerus has had to sit out several games with a gash in his leg suffered during a recent game.  Perhaps the tide is turning a little.  Yesterday SLU re-admitted star guard Kwamain Mitchell to the university for the Spring semester, which means he could theoretically suit up this season.  Theoretically.  Majerus has counseled Mitchell to sit out this year to get his life back in order, and the argument makes sense.  At 5-9 and with a loss to Dayton in the A-10 already under its belt, SLU would have a very difficult time making a run at the NCAA Tournament even with Mitchell back in action at 100%.  Furthermore, the school made no mention of the status of his former teammate, Willie Reed, who Billiken fans would hope be allowed to return at the same time as Mitchell.
  2. You know it’s coming every week, so here it is.  The best weekly read that the college basketball scribing industry has to offer:  Luke Winn’s Power Rankings.  Grab your coffee, turn off the phone and relish in the knowledge you’re about to pick up.  It simply keeps getting better.
  3. Next Thursday Oregon will open its brand spanking new Matthew Knight Arena [“the Matt”], the $200M Phil Knight-funded temple to the hopes and dreams of Duck basketball.  Notwithstanding that ridiculous court design, the building looks phenomenal.  Addicted to Quack was privileged to do a tour recently and provided us with this accompanying photo essay.  As soon as Oregon gets their program in a little better shape, we can’t wait to check that joint out.
  4. Some transfer news dropped on Thursday.  Seton Hall forward Ferrokhan Hall announced that he would be heading west to play for his hometown school, Memphis.  He will be eligible to play in December 2012, providing some nice depth to the Memphis front line.  Meanwhile, Minnesota guard Devoe Joseph is looking at a number of destinations, including West Virginia, Oregon, Baylor, Pittsburgh, Charlotte and Niagara.
  5. It looks like we’re finally going to put this Enes Kanter situation to bed soon.  According to Jeff Goodman, the NCAA heard Kentucky’s re-argument about the Turkish center’s eligibility yesterday, and the underlying assumption is that they will rule on this rather quickly (it could be as soon as today).  Honestly, we just want to see it over with so that the “Free Enes” nonsense will end.  Kentucky is already better than most of us thought they would be; if Kanter becomes eligible, you can easily add the Wildcats to the short list of favorites for the 2011 national title.
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Oregon’s New Court: An Unvarnished Rorschach Test?

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2010

Phil Knight is known as many things, but being a bore isn’t one of them.  The founder of Nike who has launched hundreds of campaigns of cool over the past three decades is a well-known University of Oregon supporter, and his creative stamp on Duck uniforms has given legions of commentators great discussion material over the years.   As we all know, Oregon’s brand new hoops home, the Matthew Knight Arena, is scheduled to open for business in early 2011 and the Nike CEO may have outdone himself this time with its design.  Or more specifically, the design of the centerpiece of the building — the Ducks’ basketball floor.

Is It a Rorschach Test or a Basketball Floor?

This isn’t the best photo, but the floor, designed by Nike’s VP for Design and Special Projects Tinker Hatfield, depicts the evergreen forests that the Pacific Northwest is known for with the motto “Deep in the Woods.”  There’s also a secondary meaning behind the floor, as UO’s 1939 national title team (in the first NCAA Tournament) was nicknamed the “Tall Firs.”  Hatfield, who may have staked his reputation and career on this design, had this to say: “We wanted to design the most iconic television presence possible for the University of Oregon by conjuring up a highly unique and visible basketball floor design. It’s inspired by our beautiful tree-covered region and the UO 1939 NCAA Championship basketball team nick-named the ‘Tall Firs.’”

Score one for unique and visible.  But unless Hatfield was going for the always-hip unvarnished Rorschach Test look, we’re not sure what he was thinking.  Looking at this thing makes us want to climb down there with a bucket of paint and a few brushes — well, after we’ve spent an hour wondering why the iconic Oregon “O” sits upon what appears to be a Stonehenge structure that spells out Tatt (ed. note: obviously, it is supposed to read “Matt”).  Other than wondering where that damn sailboat is hidden, we see a few problems with this floor.  First of all, the actual floor doesn’t have nearly the contrast of the artist’s rendition (see below), but we’re honestly not sure if that would make it better or worse.  Next, other than the emerald in the lettering and playing lines, this floor doesn’t really appear to capture the school’s primary colors of green and yellow.  It looks more like wood color, which would be fine on its own if they weren’t actually going for something else.

Color us skeptical, but maybe this floor will look a lot better in high-definition television with 12,000 green/yellow-clad screaming fans around it come January, but for now, we’re more aghast at this design than anything else.  This floor in its current form is definitely a candidate for our Ugly Floors post from a couple of years back.  We will say this about Oregon, though — more than any other school in America, they’re willing to try new and imaginative things, even if those attempts are incredibly  ugly and easily mocked.

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Morning Five: 10.05.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 5th, 2010

  1. Luke Winn wrote a piece on a little-known coach named Bill Fenlon, the head man at Division III DePauw University, and you’re wondering why.  Remember the flap several weeks back when the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective released its findings on 2009-10 game data that showed there is no significant difference in the coaching strategies to foul or not foul on the last possession?  Well, a decade ago Fenlon did a similar analysis where he calculated the mathematical odds of fouling/not fouling while up three points with seven seconds or less left on the clock.  The 2,728 word paper ultimately found that there is a 19% chance of the game going to overtime by playing strong defense; but only a 5% chance of OT if a team fouls correctly in that situation.  This flies in the face of the  conclustion of the HSAC study, but one possible explanation is that, due to data limitations, the HSAC had to consider all possible last possessions (rather than those with seven seconds or less).  Very interesting stuff from Winn, as always.
  2. The Summit League is planning a site visit to Great West member North Dakota during the first two days of November to assess whether the school might be a good future candidate for league expansion.  This would appear to be a good fit, as North Dakota State and South Dakota State are current members of the league and South Dakota is set to join next year.  Nothing like cornering the Dakota collegiate sports market!  All kidding aside, there may be a conference battle brewing over the Fighting Sioux as this push by the Summit appears to be precipitated by the Big Sky’s recent interest in UND as well.
  3. Illinois head coach Bruce Weber spent a full day last week tooling about the nation’s capital as part of his charity work for Coaches vs. Cancer and the American Cancer Society.  The Illini are among the top ten fundraisers in CvC, and Weber has made a point of the maxim to “give something back” now that he has reached the upper echelon of his profession.  Great to see this.
  4. There was a time where we honestly believed that Richmond, once the darlings of the CAA, had made a mistake in joining the higher-up-the-food-chain Atlantic 10.  No longer, and the reason: head coach Chris Mooney.  Under the legendary Dick Tarrant and (later) John Beilein, the Spiders made six NCAA Tournaments from 1984-98 and won games as every seed from the spectrum of #12-#15 — in other words, the seeds that usually don’t win NCAA Tournament games.  It took some time, but it appears that Mooney has gotten UR acclimated to the A-10 and the Spiders should be able to regularly play the role of favorite against some other future giant-killers themselves.
  5. Oregon’s Matthew Knight Arena is set to open to the public in January, but two Ducks — EJ Singler and Jeremy Jacob — took an early tour recently with goofy hardhats in tow.  Place looks sick, especially the part about the highest-resolution big screen used in any arena in America.  Now, if Oregon can just find some decent players in order to put fans in those plush seats and show highlights on that ridiculous jumbotron.

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