Morning Five: 07.08.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on July 8th, 2010

  1. Behold, the power of KenPom. On his blog, Mr. Pomeroy lists the ten most unlikely wins of last season in a two-part post, but don’t be surprised if you don’t remember a lot of them.  It’s a great read, and the statistics add to the wonderment, but this is not necessarily a list of big upsets like Pennsylvania over Cornell, or Northern Iowa over Kansas. By “unlikely wins,” he means games in which one team got down by a large amount and had an incredibly low probability of coming back to win, but did.  Great stuff as usual.
  2. Somebody please explain to us why this isn’t being televised.  On September 18th, Bob Knight will be roasted by the likes of Steve Alford, Isiah Thomas, and a few rivals of Knight’s from his coaching days.  If this is going to be a real, honest roast and the speakers plan to get in some good licks on The General, we’d like to watch this for two reasons:  first, to watch Knight make mental notes of who’s saying what about him so he can keep it on file in his brain; second, because this thing is going down at a casino, to be privy to the conversations that would happen if these guys get good and lubricated around a blackjack table at three in the morning.
  3. In a story appearing on a blog of the Birmingham News, one of Eric Bledsoe’s relatives and a family friend claimed yesterday that they — and not Bledsoe’s high school coach, Maurice Ford — helped pay the rent for Bledsoe and his mother during Bledsoe’s senior year of high school.  Also, the landlady of that property is also disputing her account of the situation originally published by the New York Times, which broke the story over a month ago raising the possibility that Ford had injured Bledsoe’s amateur status by assisting Bledsoe and his mother by paying their rent on occasion.
  4. Two ex-Kansas athletic department officials have now been charged in the federal probe of the KU ticket-scalping debacle.  Last week, former assistant director of ticket operations Jason Jeffries was charged with “misprision of a felony” for his role in the scandal, and yesterday former assistant AD for sales and marketing Brandon Simmons received the same charge.
  5. The Pac-10 couldn’t be any worse next year than it was last year, could it?  It just has to be better…right?  Well,’s Ann Killion isn’t bullish that the conference’s final season in its ten-team form will be any better than the 2009-2010 edition.
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Is This What Calipari’s Detractors Have Been Waiting For?

Posted by jstevrtc on May 28th, 2010

In a story on the New York Times website, college basketball writer Pete Thamel and contributor Thayer Evans dropped a big Memorial weekend bomb on the Big Blue Nation, as the legions of University of Kentucky basketball fans around the world are known.  According to the article, the NCAA is looking into former UK shooting guard Eric Bledsoe possibly having received improper benefits while in high school, specifically having his rent paid by his senior-year high school coach, Maurice Ford.  The article also brings up the question as to whether or not Ford, in attempts to gather money to make such rent payments for Bledsoe and his mother, solicited money from at least one college coach in order for Bledsoe to sign with that coach’s school.  Also raised is the matter of Bledsoe’s academic improvement after his original high school had shut down and he transferred to a private school; evidently the NCAA is inquiring as to how Bledsoe’s high school GPA could have dramatically jumped from 1.9 to 2.5 during his senior year, thereby putting him over the minimum NCAA standard to be eligible for a scholarship.

There's been no comment from Bledsoe or UK as of yet.

Mr. Ford, as Thamel and Thayer note, has denied all of the accusations.  And according to Matt May of, the folks at Kentucky haven’t even received a letter of inquiry about these issues.

If something actually comes from this, the bigger question will be how much the Kentucky program — and specifically John Calipari — actually knew about what was happening.  Fans of the UK coach will note how, regarding the “troubles” at his former jobs at Massachusetts and Memphis, Calipari was never specifically dinged with any wrongdoing, and that the mistakes made by Marcus Camby and Derrick Rose were out of the realm of what Calipari could realistically police.  On the other hand, Calipari-haters are about as giddy as Keith Olbermann watching George W. Bush fall down a flight of stairs.  They’ve already tried the man and handed down a guilty verdict long ago, and have just been waiting for something on which they could pin it.  Both sides would be well-advised to keep calm for now.

Unfortunately for Kentucky fans, it’s the program, and not necssarily the player or coach under investigation, that usually takes the hit if penalties are deemed necessary.  If something comes from this — and again, we don’t know if anything will — could Kentucky be stripped of its 35 wins from last year, which would put them back behind that 2,000-win mark?  Could those UK2K shirts become collector’s items?  Or would the NCAA rule that Bledsoe simply has to pay back whatever money was borrowed?  Since Bledsoe is no longer under the thumb of the NCAA, that might be tough to enforce.  To be sure, even if there is something to be found here, the accusations will be tough to prove.   Academic fraud at a high school is not as easy to verify as you’d think, and this matter of rent payments would be even tougher.  Again, unfortunately for Kentucky supporters, the NCAA is detective, judge, jury, and executioner, and they get to determine what constitutes good, hard, believable evidence.  And even if the NCAA finds something and says that the guilt lies totally with Eric Bledsoe and not with John Calipari or anyone at the University of Kentucky, it’s likely that the UK program would still feel the NCAA’s pimp slap while Bledsoe skates.  IF that happens, you can bet that the Calipari-to-NBA talk will heat up again, and you’d have to figure that the UK recruits who didn’t sign letters of intent would suddenly start to reconsider.

We’ll see what happens.  It’s still early days, yet.  Considering the recent news out of Kansas and Connecticut…it’s been a tough week for some of college basketball’s leviathan programs.

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