Morning Five: 09.21.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2012

  1. On Thursday afternoon, Billy Gillispie trumped the inevitable by submitting his resignation from the head coaching position at Texas Tech, citing health concerns. It’s been a wild three-week ride for Gillispie and his employer, beginning with a frantic 911 call made from the coach’s house followed by near-mutiny conditions among the players, two serious hospitalizations, a directive from the university to stay away from the program, and finally, yesterday’s very predictable conclusion. We’ll have more on the meteoric rise and tragic fall of Gillispie later today (Dan Wetzel has a great read in that vein too), but at least one national columnist writes that Texas Tech’s unwillingness to monitor the troubled head coach after his prior troubles places just as much culpability on its management as it does on Gillispie himself.
  2. From bad news to good on the coaching front, as just one day after UNC head coach Roy Williams successfully endured a three-and-a-half hour procedure to remove a tumor from his right kidney, he headed home. Three weeks to the day before practices open around the country, it’s still unclear whether Williams will need another procedure for a tumor on his left kidney or if there will be any follow-up work necessary related to Wednesday’s surgery. It’s difficult to speculate too much about Williams’ prognosis short of facts about his specific medical condition, but reached out to a former practicing urologist for additional insight into the situation. In short, he thinks from what he’s read and heard that Williams should be fine — with the caveat that he’s simply reading what is publicy available like the rest of us. We certainly hope he’s right.
  3. Much has been made this summer and fall about all the eligibility issues facing star recruits such as Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, Providence’s Ricardo Ledo, UCLA’s Shabazz Muhammad, and others. After the good news was released that NC State’s Rodney Purvis will be eligible to play this year, Thursday brought us a report from Adam Zagoria that UCLA’s Kyle Anderson is expected to be cleared by the NCAA prior to the start of practice in mid-October. Anderson was the best player on the Bruins’ recent trip to China (Muhammad did not play), and he will without question have a huge role in the height of the ceiling that Ben Howland’s team can reach next season. Hey, we want to see everyone play next season — the game suffers when the star talent doesn’t get a chance to suit up.
  4. It remains to be seen whether we’ll be having the same discussion with Jabari Parker this time next season, but let’s hope not. Regardless of that, the Class of 2013 superstar must really be a Kevin Ollie fan, as he recently added Connecticut to his list of 10 (now 11) schools. In fact, Ollie already has a home visit scheduled with the Parker family next week, following up on visits from Tom Izzo and Mike Krzyzewski at the end of this week. According to the linked article, Parker may be looking at narrowing his list as soon as this weekend, and may be ready to make his decision by the fall signing period in November.
  5. With Notre Dame’s move to the ACC coming in the next couple of years, Irish head coach Mike Brey is already looking forward with scheduling and if his desires come to fruition, we should just go ahead and pencil in Notre Dame as the school with the #1 RPI rating for the foreseeable future. In addition to the mandated 18-game ACC schedule that his team will have to play, Brey would like to keep home-and-home series with several of the Catholic Big East schools in cities where the Notre Dame name still carries quite a bit of weight. The five he listed are: Marquette, DePaul, Georgetown, Villanova, and St. John’s. Presuming the Irish remain locked into the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis and the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, there won’t be much room left for the Savannah States of the world.
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Morning Five: 09.20.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 20th, 2012

  1. Yesterday North Carolina announced that Roy Williams had undergone successful surgery at UNC Hospitals to remove a tumor from his right kidney, the likes of which was discovered last month during a routine physical of the 62-year old head coach. Although Williams’ prognosis is good and he is expected to be back on his feet and ready for the start of practice in just over three weeks, there is the possibility that he may need to undergo a second surgery to remove a different tumor on his left kidney. Although the news release didn’t mention the dreaded “c” word related to Williams’ health, it’s safe to assume that there is at least some cause for concern on that front. The NYT reported Wednesday that the severity of the removed tumor is currently unknown and his test results should be back within a week. Meanwhile, we’re all crossing our fingers for a coach who, as The Dagger reminded us, has spent the better part of his years at UNC pushing philanthropic causes related to fighting cancer. Good luck in this battle, coach.
  2. Former Connecticut head coach Jim Calhoun is no stranger to health issues including cancer (a three-time survivor), so hopefully he won’t have to spend any of his golden years fighting that particular disease again. Now fully settled into retirement his new role as UConn basketball advisor/fund-raiser, he’ll certainly have more free time, and as the Hartford Courant reports, the financial resources by which to truly enjoy himself. Calhoun’s decision to make no decision on his retirement until after the payroll run on September 7 ensured that he would receive a lump sum payment of $1.3 million for speaking engagements and appearances this year, while his negotiation of another lump sum payment in January to $1.15 million and his biweekly salary going through next March means that the three-time national champion will receive in the neighborhood of $2.75 million for not coaching the Huskies this season. He also has an option to receive another lump sum $1 million retirement payment next spring, which would put his golden parachute year into elite territory, for sure.
  3. Kevin Ollie is the new top guy at UConn, and his first regular season game will make history in more ways than one — not only does his hiring represent a new era in Connecticut basketball, but he will stalk the sidelines for the very first time as a Husky some 4,000 miles away as part of the first college basketball game ever played in Europe. The Armed Forces Classic will feature Michigan State and Connecticut lacing them up at midnight local time in an airplane hangar at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany. It will also serve as a nice homecoming game for German-born Huskies Niels Giffey, Enosch Wolf, and Leon Tolksdorf, none of whom probably never imagined they’d get a chance to play NCAA hoops on their home soil. One interesting caveat with this news release is that there are plans to move this event around in the future, potentially opening up the entire world to the beauty of early November college basketball.
  4. The nation’s top player in the Class of 2014, and some say the top player in the world’s prep ranks, Andrew Wiggins of Huntington (WV) Prep, is considering a reclassification (Nerlens Noel-style) into the Class of 2013 instead. According to his high school coach, Wiggins already has taken and passed most of the NCAA’s requisite core classes, meaning that he theoretically has the option if he and his parents feel that’s the best course of action for his development, and ultimately, NBA riches. Huntington is only two hours east of Lexington, and John Calipari has already made waves recruiting Wiggins, so you have to wonder if the Kentucky head coach has his eye set on making the Class of 2013 (including a reclassified Wiggins) his own personal Dream Team. UK is already on the list of every player in the top five of Rivals’ most recent rankings — Calipari might just redefine what college basketball recruiting is all about if he pulls this off.
  5. So… about that Harvard basketball bandwagon? Yeah, many Crimson students aren’t really feeling it much anymore. According to Bill Pennington’s Quad post at the New York Times, the campus euphoria that surrounded the team’s Ivy League championship and long-overdue appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season has largely dissipated in light of the recent academic scandal involving co-captains Kyle Casey and Brandyn Curry. Even though the class in question where the cheating is alleged to have occurred (Government 1310: Introduction to Congress) involved over 125 students with varying interests and affiliations, the focus has largely been on the presumed guilt of Tommy Amaker’s players and what it says about the interplay between college athletics and academics as a whole. It’s an interesting read and well worth your time.
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Morning Five: 02.07.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 7th, 2012

  1. Alabama star forward Tony Mitchell was suspended indefinitely on Monday by head coach Anthony Grant, who did not elaborate on specific causes other than to say that it wasn’t the result of a specific action but a series of transgressions. The junior wing who averages 13/7 on the season picked a tough time to fail to come through for his team, as the Crimson Tide travels to Auburn tonight and LSU on Saturday. Sitting firmly on the early February bubble, Alabama cannot afford to lose either game against two lower-tier SEC teams without one of its two best players in the lineup.
  2. From a player forced to sit to a coach choosing to do so, College of Charleston head man Bobby Cremins opened up Monday about his recent leave of absence from the team. Citing doctor’s orders, the 64-year old coach said that he was running himself into the ground: “I got physically exhausted, fatigued and lacked the necessary energy to coach our team. My doctor advised me to take an immediate medical leave of absence, which I did.” Coaches are competitive and stressed-out people in general, so it probably didn’t help matters that Cremins’ team got off to a 9-1 start this season before dropping eight of their next 11 games. Reading between the lines a bit in Cremins’ statement to the media, he didn’t sound like someone ready to stop coaching — let’s hope he gets his energy back in time to lead CofC to a run in the Southern Conference Tournament next month.
  3. If you were like most of America, you didn’t know Duke had lost another home game until sometime yesterday given that Miami’s overtime victory over the Blue Devils finished as most people were either en route or settling into their Super Bowl parties. One man who knew it all too well and no doubt carried it with him into a sleepless night on Sunday was Mike Krzyzewski. Already having assailed his team in the postgame interview for a perceived lack of effort, the venerable coach on Monday took to the airwaves on 99.9 FM The Fan in Raleigh to further chastise his team for not “playing hard” during parts of the loss to Miami. As we all know, Duke’s ridiculous success has always been predicated on its tough man-to-man defense; and its defensive success has derived from equal parts talent and effort. This year’s defense, however, is one of the worst the Blue Devils have fielded since Chris Collins and Jeff Capel were hoisting shots at the rim rather than dry erasers at the white board. Coach K cannot change the talent part of his defensive problem overnight, but he can change the effort issue. We’d expect his players to come at North Carolina like a pack of starving jackals in Chapel Hill tomorrow night.
  4. We’re really not sure what to make of this, but if your goal is to figure out who has the best chance of finding the sunny side of the bubble on Selection Sunday, maybe this simple equation from Drew Cannon at Basketball Prospectus is really all you need. Could it really be that easy — perhaps so. Considering that the RPI is the metric favored by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, it makes sense that teams rated highly in that manner have a bit of a leg up. When you then add Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency-based metrics to the RPI, you’re essentially favoring teams that play the game of basketball (from a possession-by-possession standpoint) a little better than those who do not. Voila, the combination seems to result in a hybrid model that is a fairly accurate predictor of the field.
  5. Seth Davis was back in action Monday with a new Hoop Thoughts column, and although we disagree with him that the Kansas-Missouri rivalry will take very long to see back on the regular season schedule (five years, tops), we completely concur with his sentiment that the entire rabbit hole of conference realignment is a very, very bad thing for college athletics. And yet this is the tip of the iceberg, we’re afraid. The Pac-12 on Monday just rewarded its commissioner, Larry Scott, with an extension of his contract through 2016. How is this relevant, you ask? Recall that it was Scott’s maneuvering two summers ago in trying to lure several Big 12 schools to the Pac-10 that set into motion much of the ensuing hysteria and deal-making among schools and conferences looking out only for themselves. Without Scott’s overtures, would Missouri and Texas A&M be going to the SEC? Would Pittsburgh and Syracuse be ACC-bound? It appears that there’s no honor among the barbarians at the gate, though — say it with us now — Scott’s contract extension was approved… unanimously.
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Morning Five: 05.12.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 12th, 2011

  1. Well, this is certainly interesting.  According to this piece from, the aircraft carrier on which public enemy #1 Osama bin Laden was buried at sea could be the same one used for the Veteran’s Day event featuring an outdoor game between North Carolina and Michigan State next November.  One of two ships will be used for the game — either the USS Ronald Reagan or the USS Carl Vinson — and the Vinson is the carrier which received  and disposed of the body of the world’s most wanted terrorist last week.  If we get to cover this game on November 11, we’ll definitely do some looking around for evidence of this — perhaps a marker of some kind, or a Kilroy Was Here insignia.  Oh, and ESPN will carry this game — no surprise there.
  2. Minnesota’s Tubby Smith on Tuesday announced that he has been dealing with prostate cancer for the last year, but his most recent check-up revealed that he is now 100% free of the disease and he is “feeling great” as a result.  This is great news, of course, and Tubby joins a number of prominent head coaches who have been treated for this illness in the past several years — names including Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, UConn’s Jim Calhoun, and most recently, St. John’s’ Steve Lavin.  We’re pretty sure that this is not something confined to Big East coaches and Tubby Smith, but it does prove again the necessity for men over the age of 50 to have regular testing in this area, as it could ultimately save your life.
  3. More on this later today, but the $200,000 raise that Rick Barnes received after his second straight disappointing season (and fourth in five years) proves that the Texas head coaching job is a plum position for someone who can simply tread the water of reasonableness year after year.  His new salary will be $2.4M per year now, but a 6-5 NCAA record in the last five years considering the number of top prospects that have passed through Austin is somewhat shameful.  At a basketball school, he would have already been run out of town for this level of performance; but at Texas, it’s worth a  9% raise.
  4. Now that rosters are mostly set for the 2011-12 season (knuckleheads over the summer notwithstanding), Luke Winn is ready to present us with his Power Rankings for next saeson.  How awesome is it that he dropped some Belmont on us in the #16 slot.  Keep workin’ it, Luke.  While on the topic of rankings for next season, Jeff Goodman also came out with his Top 25 yesterday.  He, however, shamefully did not rank the Bruins from Belmont.
  5. And now for something completely different.  Remember that Venoy Overton story from the latter half of the season that involved him being investigated and later exonerated for a sexual assault?  Seattle Weekly dishes the details from the 227-page police report that paints a somewhat different picture than the one bandied about the Seattle area for the better part of two months last season.  It’s well worth a read, especially with respect to holding our tongue the next time we roll our eyes when a player gets accused of some kind of sexual assault — you just never know.   Read it.
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Grumbling at Grambling

Posted by rtmsf on September 28th, 2009

This story got lost in the Friday afternoon rush of people heading to happy hour, but Grambling St. University basketball made national news for the third time in a year that day, and unfortunately, not for anything good.  Rick Duckett, the head coach who (likely) orchestrated this particular crime against hoop-anity back in January, reportedly resigned after one of his transfer players, Henry White, fell ill during workouts and later died.   

rick duckett

Connecting the dots, it might make sense to presume that Duckett somehow felt responsible for White’s death, as the White family attorney asserts that it was common practice for Grambling coaches to run their players outside during intense summer heat and humidity, and had in fact done so that day (where two other players also fell ill).  The problem with that theory is twofold: first, Andy Katz reported on Saturday that Duckett claims he didn’t resign at all; rather, he was fired (technically he’s on leave until Oct. 31, then he’ll be released).  And not just him, but his entire staff of assistants save one (new interim coach Robert Washington, Jr.).  Second, on the day that White collapsed during workouts, Duckett wasn’t even at practice.  In fact, he wasn’t even on campus.  Instead, he was instead having an undisclosed medical procedure of his own at the time. 

So what in the name of Eddie Robinson is going on here? 

We understand the legal concept of vicarious liability, and if Duckett directed his assistants to run players through the sweatbox known as Louisiana humidity against all better judgment, we could believe that university officials are looking to CYA here.  But one question.  Don’t Grambling football players also run drills in the sweatbox throughout August?  In pads?  If true, it would appear difficult for us to believe an argument that it’s ok for the football team to run outdoors, but not the basketball team.   

It’s also clearly not performance-related.  Grambling takes its football team very seriously; basketball is pretty much an afterthought.  Duckett’s 6-23 record in his first and only year didn’t turn any heads, but the school’s had only two .500+ seasons since 1994, so there’s really nothing unusual about that.  The last head coach, Larry Wright, wasn’t much better: over nine seasons, he turned in a record of 88-160 (.355).  Furthermore, Duckett was successful at the D2 level, so there was reason to believe he could turn around the Grambling program. 

The bottom line about this is that something is missing from the story – Grambling officials are leaving something out.  Considering their recent history of making up stories about SWAC refs when it suits them, we’re not exactly surprised. 

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Buzz: Howland Hospitalized For Appendectomy

Posted by rtmsf on September 17th, 2009

UCLA head coach underwent an appendectomy procedure yesterday, and it was announced today that the coach was resting comfortably at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Westwood.   The tireless recruiter wasted no time letting Bruin fans that he won’t be out of action very long, as he tweeted his weekend plans (back on the road) this afternoon.  (h/t Bruins Nation).  It’s a relatively common procedure, but surgery is still surgery, so we’re glad to hear that Howland is recovering nicely and will be back in action very soon.

howland tweet

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