The Fabric of Their Lives: Part Three

Posted by cwilliams on October 17th, 2011

Today, we finish the uniform rankings of the Big 12, as we reveal #4, #3, #2, and #1. First, I want to touch on the most important feature of a college basketball uniform: uniqueness. The more unique the uniform is, the more it is that they will be talked about. However, introducing a unique uniform is high-risk and high-reward. UNC’s jersey is, in my mind, the best uniform in college basketball. It’s uniqueness with the argyle and phenomenal color scheme make it impossible to beat. On the contrary, teams like Oklahoma State or Marquette, whose attempts for uniqueness involve bright and obnoxious colors, are some of my least favorite jerseys. A strong uniform becomes an identity of your program, and a strong program should have a strong uniform.  So here goes… the top four.

#4. Missouri

Needs More Jersey Patches, I'd Say.

History: 7. Mizzou got new threads last year, but they simply modernized their jersey. No change was substantial, and their jerseys have remained true to their school colors of black and gold for decades.

Color Scheme: 9. Missouri’s black and gold has become one of the most recognizable color scheme in the world of college sports, up there with Texas, Kansas, North Carolina, and Notre Dame.

Script:4. Unfortunately, the script is the downfall of Missouri’s aesthetics. The text looks like a font from Cartoon Network, and does not induce fear or intimidation upon its opponents.

Final Score. 20

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Morning Five: 06.16.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 16th, 2011

  1. Yesterday was a busy day for former UConn forward Jamal Coombs-McDaniel as he not only received a deal from a judge allowing him to enter a state-run drug education program that would leave him without a criminal record (outside of the Internet) and he announced that he would be transferring to Hofstra where he will join former UConn assistant Patrick Sellars (the one who was thrown under the bus in the Nate Miles fiasco).
  2. We are only week away from the NBA Draft and most pundits expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to select Kyrie Irving with the #1 overall pick. Even though most people consider this a weak year overall there are a few people who are quite high on Irving. Basketball Prospectus is apparently high enough on him to write an a post comparing him to Derrick Rose. We don’t think that Irving is even close to the prospect that Rose was coming out of his freshman year (the comparison is probably based on most similar game rather than potential), but it is an interesting analysis.
  3. Over the years Dick Vitale has become somewhat of a lightning rod for fans upset about perceived biases against their teams so much so that they often forget that he was a pretty good college coach (and a lousy pro coach). Detroit, the school that he coached at from 1973-77 and led to the NCAA Tournament in 1977, has announced that it will be naming its court as “Dick Vitale Court at Calihan Hall” during the school’s nationally televised game against St. John’s on December 5, 2011 (more on it here from RTC). We are sort of on the fence with this one. On one hand the program does not have a great track record of success and Vitale got them to the NCAA Tournament, but on the other hand it could be interpreted to be a desperate plea to garner some national attention.
  4. We have been writing about “package deals” for several years now dating back to the sketchy Michael BeasleyDalonte Hill deal, but assumed that they were going to be less frequent with the NCAA trying to be more vigilant on all fronts. It turns that belief might have been a bit premature as some are questioning a potential assistant coaching job offer to the father of 2012 recruit J-Mychal Reese. According to some reports J-Mychal’s father has offers from Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and LSU. Although he does have nearly a decade of experience as a high school coach some are questioning it and it should be worth following over the next year.
  5. UTEP rising sophomore John Bohannon got himself into a mess over the weekend with an anti-gay tweet stating “#letsbereal it is NOT cool to be gay! (Zro voice) *jordan shrug*.” Bohannon subsequently deleted the tweet and posted another tweet stating “To those who were offended by my tweet a few days ago- Didn’t mean any disrespect by it as I do not judge anybody by their sexual preference and would hope you would not judge me by one tweet. Thank You.” UTEP has not issued a comment other than that Bohannon reportedly issued the original tweet in reference to a lyric by rapper Z-Ro that stated “Seems like today, it’s cool to be gay.” Within the UTEP student community response has been mixed, but mostly negative, which is not too surprising. We are sure that Bohannon will be reminded of this at a more than a few road games during his college career.
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Mark Turgeon Heads To Maryland

Posted by nvr1983 on May 9th, 2011

After what appeared to be the beginning of a long coaching search Maryland is set to announce that Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon will be its next head coach. This Friday’s announcement that Terrapin legend Gary Williams was retiring shocked the college basketball world and put the program in a tough position of having to fill an opening in one of the premier coaching positions in America after many of the top potential replacements had signed extensions with their schools in the month and a half since the Final Four.

Turgeon has some big shoes to fill

The Terrapins initially went after Sean Miller, Brad Stevens, and Mike Brey, but all three turned them down with Miller and Brey getting contract extensions as a result of Maryland’s pursuit. At that point it appeared like Maryland might be headed for a coaching search that would mirror NC State‘s albeit without the theatrics of a Debbie Yow-like character. In the end, they turned to the state of Texas where they were able to land a solid coach in Mark Turgeon, who might lack the “wow” factor of some other candidates (particularly Stevens), but has managed to compile an impressive resume at Wichita State and Texas A&M. After serving his time as an assistant coach at Kansas and Oregon followed by a short NBA stint, Turgeon’s head coaching career began with an unimpressive start at Jacksonville State, but he quickly recovered to turn Wichita State into one of the best mid-major teams in the country culminating in a Sweet 16 appearance in 2006. Although Turgeon was unable to get the Aggies to a Sweet 16, he did manage to maintain the program at the level that Billy Gillispie brought it to before his ill-fated move to Kentucky and keep it as one of the best in the Big 12.

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Is The NCAA Taking On American Soldiers?

Posted by nvr1983 on November 27th, 2010

The media and fans have criticized the NCAA for years for the sheer ridiculousness of some of its rules and how it applies those rules. While everyone is aware of the NCAA’s decisions on players reportedly receiving payments before school like Enes Kanter or Josh Selby, and while in school like O.J. Mayo or Reggie Bush, there are also grey areas such as when recruits come as part of a package deal like that in which Michael Beasley was reportedly involved. Much has been made of the NCAA’s perceived uneven application of those rules and the glacial pace at which they have enforced them. The latest application of those rules that led Duquesne‘s men’s basketball program to report itself to the NCAA, however, should make even the NCAA’s staunchest defender cringe. 

So what exactly did Duquesne do that led it to turn itself into the NCAA? Donate shoes to American soldiers, according to Duquesne. Ok, maybe it is a little more complex than that. Technically, they donated shoes to a foundation run by Bob Starkman, the coach at Broward Community College, who then sent them to US troops in Afghanistan. So even though the shoes were sent to the US troops because they were sent to Starkman, a junior college coach, they were interpreted as a gift to Starkman, which would be a secondary NCAA violation. Here is the official statement from Duquesne via athletic director Greg Amodio: 

In an attempt to support our troops in Afghanistan through a program conducted by Bob Starkmann [sic], head basketball coach at Broward CC, the Duquesne University men’s basketball staff inadvertently violated an NCAA bylaw that prevents Division I institutions from sending athletic apparel/equipment directly to a junior-college coaching staff. Therefore, the Duquesne University athletic department has submitted a letter to the NCAA outlining the circumstances associated with this secondary violation. 

Seems like a straightforward case of the NCAA being ridiculously anal, right? It turns out the case might not be that simple. 

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The AP Makes Harrison Barnes Its First Freshman Preseason All-American

Posted by nvr1983 on November 1st, 2010

Typically, the announcement of preseason All-Americans is something that we pass over, but when today’s list was announced it caught our eye. It appears that the Associated Press has decided to get with the 21st century and named Harrison Barnes as a 1st team preseason All-American making him the first freshman to receive the honor since the AP began bestowing the honor before the 1986-87 season. Although Barnes was technically the last man on the team with 17 out of 67 possible votes, by far the fewest of any member of the 1st team, it is remarkable that he achieved recognition that players such as Carmelo Anthony, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant, Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, and John Wall never did. Still, Barnes, who like every other freshman, was left off the preseason Wooden Award list will have his work cut out for him trying to match the production of some of the most prolific freshman (many of whom made the final All-American team), but based on what we have heard out of Chapel Hill he might have a chance.

Barnes: The 1st AP Preseason All-American Ever

Here is the rest of the first team with the number of votes out of 67 possible votes that they received from the AP voters:

  • Kyle Singler, Duke (65)
  • Jacob Pullen, Kansas State (53)
  • Jimmer Fredette, BYU (49)
  • JaJuan Johnson, Purdue (46)
  • Harrison Barnes, UNC (17)

Singler, the top vote-getter, is the lone returning AP preseason 1st team All-American although he was only honorable mention when the end-of-season picks were made last year. It is worth noting that none of the members (John Wall, Evan TurnerDeMarcus Cousins, Wesley Johnson, and Scottie Reynolds) from of last year’s All-American team returned to school and none of them were on the preseason All-American team from a year ago so keep that in mind although we have a feeling we will be seeing a few of this year’s preseason All-Americans on multiple All-American lists at the end of the season.

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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 11.01.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 1st, 2010

Although we have been mentioning that some of the recruiting buzz might start slowing down we still saw one big-time recruit commit this week and another back out of his prior commitment.

  • First we will go with the big commitment as Memphis picked up its first commitment of the recruiting season (shocking, right?) when local product and reality TV star Adonis Thomas committed to play for the Tigers. Josh Pastner utilized former Memphis star Penny Hardaway to appeal to Thomas during a video segment aired during their version of Midnight Madness. Thomas announced his decision on ESPNU, which is quite frankly less dramatic than we imagined for a player who went on ESPNU to announce his finalists.
  • Now for the less joyous news (if you’re a fan of the team that previously had a commitment) we will head to Texas where Rick Barnes lost a commitment from highly coveted Canadian (via Findlay Prep) point guard recruit Myck Kabongo who has not provided a definitive answer as to why he has reneged on his earlier promise. As of now he says that he is still considering Texas along with Syracuse, Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina. There has been some talk about Austin Rivers and Kabongo wanting to team up (anybody getting visions of college poor man’s LeBron-Wade in Cameron?), but we will probably have to wait until Spring to find out as Kabongo says he is 60% certain that he’ll sign in the late period. [Ed. Note: Where do these guys come up with these percentages?]

    Kabongo is on the market again

  • Stanford picked up a huge commitment this week when the received a verbal commitment from top 10 point guard prospect Chasson Randle, who decided to head to Palo Alto after considering Illinois and Purdue citing the combination of academics (4.0 high school GPA) and athletics.
  • Indiana might still be waiting on Cody Zeller to decide on where he wants to go, but they were able to pick up a commitment from Hanner Perea, a power forward in the class of 2012 that many recruiting experts consider the most explosive big man in the class. Some of you may remember Perea as being the focal point of Baylor‘s current cell phone/text message scandal, but we have a feeling you might forget that when you see how athletic he is (additional video after the jump).
  • [Ed. Note: Both videos–this and the one after the jump–are of Perea as a sophomore.]

  • Bruce Weber may have missed out on Randle and Anthony Davis, two of the top players in the state of Illinois, but he was able to get a commitment from Mike Shaw, a 6’8″ forward who many expect to improve significantly in college.
  • Last week we noted the apparent hesitance of Jahii Carson to officially sign with Arizona State, but now it appears like he will sign with the Sun Devils during November.
  • Duke lost a commitment from Tyler Adams, a 6’9″ center who the Blue Devils had been interested in to help them add depth on the inside. The decision might surprise some, but not those who have followed the process closely. As RTC interview subject Dave Telep notes the two sides had grown apart to the point that Adams attended Midnight Madness at Georgetown, which is never a good sign for a Duke commit. According to Telep, the two current leaders for Adams are Georgetown and Mississippi State.
  • Speaking of Mississippi State they picked up a big commitment from Rodney Hood, one of the top small forwards in this year’s class, who opted to stay in his home state instead of going to a long list of potential suitors. With Arkansas picking up an outstanding class, Georgia starting to corner the market on in-state recruits, Kentucky being Kentucky, and other schools landing several solid recruits could the SEC be turning the corner and becoming a solid conference again? Read the rest of this entry »
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In Their Words: Life at the Mid-Major Level (part five)

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Pac-10 and Mountain West Conferences and an occasional contributor.

To read the entire In Their Words series, click here.


Over the summer, we’ve spent time hearing about some of the next big-name recruits on their way to college basketball: Jared Sullinger and Harrison Barnes, Anthony Davis and Michael Gilchrist. We’ve heard the big-time schools announce their high profile games on their upcoming schedules: Kentucky going to the Maui Invitational and visiting North Carolina, Michigan State hosting Texas and going to Duke. But for the vast majority of Division I programs, they’ve been flying under the radar. There are at present 73 teams that participate in basketball in the six BCS conferences, but there are 347 total programs in Division I. Of those other 274 programs, there are certainly quite a few big-name programs: last year’s national runner-up Butler comes to mind immediately, as does Gonzaga, Memphis and a handful of other schools in conferences like the Atlantic 10 and the Mountain West. But, we were also interested in how the other half (or really, how the other three-quarters) lives, so we spent some time talking to coaches, athletic directors and other people around the country affiliated with some of those other schools — those non-BCS schools, those “mid-majors” — and we asked them about how they recruit, how they create a schedule, how they market their programs, and quite a few other things. Over the next eight weeks, we’ll let them tell you their story, in their own words.

To begin, let me introduce and thank this week’s cast of characters:

  • Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State – Brown enters his fifth year as an assistant on head coach Dan Monson’s staff, after previously having spent time on coaching staffs at Cal-State Northridge, USC and Iowa State.
  • Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty – Layer enters his second season at Liberty after having spent a season as an assistant at the university in 2007-08. In between, he spent a year at Marquette and previously he spent seven seasons as the head coach at Colorado State. He has compiled a 118-122 record in his eight seasons as a Division I head coach.
  • George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff – Ivory enters his third season in Pine Bluff, where he has turned the Golden Lions into winners. UAPB turned around an 0-11 start last season by finishing 18-5 over their last 23 games, winning UAPB’s first SWAC tournament title in 43 years and advancing to the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual national-champion Duke.
  • Larry Williams, Athletic Director, Portland: Williams has been the AD at Portland for six years now following a five year stint as the head of licensing and product marketing at his alma mater Notre Dame. Williams was a two-time All-American offensive lineman with the Irish before starting 44 games in the NFL.
  • Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State – Bartow is entering his eighth season as the Buccaneers head coach, after having previously succeeded his father Gene Bartow as the head coach at UAB. Bartow has posted a 118-72 record in his years at ETSU and has racked up 241 total wins and four NCAA appearances in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
  • Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider – Dempsey enters his fifth season as the head man at Rider, following two seasons as an assistant. He has compiled an 83-75 record over that time and coached NBA lottery pick Jason Thompson during his time there.
  • Gregg Bach, Assistant Athletics Director for Communications, Akron – Bach was named to his current position this past summer after having spent the previous eight years on the media relations staff in the Akron athletic department. His new job makes him the spokesperson of the athletic department.
  • Eric Reveno, Head Coach, Portland – Reveno heads into his fifth season at Portland having turned around a program from a team that was 18-45 in his first two seasons to a team on the rise with a 40-24 record over the last two seasons. Reveno spent his previous nine seasons as an assistant at Stanford, his alma mater where he was a Pac-10 Conference All-Academic Team selection as a senior.
  • Chris Caputo, Assistant Coach, George Mason – Caputo is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Patriots after spending the previous three seasons as an administrative assistant and video coordinator under head coach Jim Larranaga.
  • Jason James, Head Coach, Tennessee-Martin – James enters his second season as the head coach at UT-Martin following eight seasons as an assistant coach there. His first season was rough, to the tune of 4-25, after he was appointed head coach in the wake of scandal with the previous head coach. But James, the recruiter who brought Lester Hudson to UT-Martin, has plans to begin to turn things around this season.

For the most part, our first two articles on scheduling at the mid-major level have talked about the difficulties associated with lining up game. We mentioned that some schools see benefits to playing big-time programs with talented rosters, both in recruiting and in preparing their teams for conference and postseason play. Another benefit to playing these types of games is the money. Very few of the programs at this level have huge athletic budgets, so the money from taking a guarantee game and going on the road to face a bigger school is important not only to the basketball program, but also to the entire athletic department and the university. So while getting a chance for publicity from playing these games is a great incentive, the money associated with them is also a strong enticement.

Guarantee Games Are Not Always Guaranteed

Eric Brown, Assistant Coach, Long Beach State: The Big 12, the ACC, they’re all paying out big guarantees. It all depends on that particular school’s budget – some big schools will pay $55,000 or $60,000 guarantees. You can even get up to $80,000 or $90,000. And the later you wait, if there is a BCS school still looking for games, they may have to raise up the ante, they’ll pay a larger amount than they would have three months earlier.

Dale Layer, Head Coach, Liberty: It’s an important part for most mid-majors. Here at Liberty, the athletic department typically tries to reinvest a lot of that money back into the program, so we’re able to use it in a way that enhances Liberty basketball and the athletic department in ways that everybody can appreciate.

George Ivory, Head Coach, Arkansas-Pine Bluff: We think the money is very important, and the main thing when we play those games, you want to do everything you can to help out within the athletic department and the university. So we don’t have a problem playing guarantees. It’s a great thing for the guys to play that kind of schedule, you’re playing some of the top players in the country, some of the top coaches in the country, so I think it is a great experience for all of us.

Larry Williams, Athletic Director, Portland: We will play guarantee games. At some places there are mandates where you’ve gotta play these many guarantees and earn this much money, but we don’t do that. We’re trying to be very conscious of the growth of our program. And if an appropriate guarantee presents itself, we’re not afraid to play it, because quite frankly, we can win those games too. So, we’ve gotta be conscious of the opportunity to get a win and a paycheck.

Murry Bartow, Head Coach, East Tennessee State: I wouldn’t say we have a mandate. My AD and I have a very good relationship, and I, based on conversations with him, know what he is hoping to get, in terms of number of guarantee games, and know what he is hoping for based on the current budget and the current situation. So he and I sit down and visit and based on those conversations I know what I need to do. The bottom line is, I don’t mind playing those games.

Tommy Dempsey, Head Coach, Rider: You can ask ten different schools about guarantee games and get like five different answers. I don’t have a lot of pressure on me, on our basketball program, to play guarantee games. We do play them, but we don’t play too many of them. Last year for instance, we played one against Mississippi State, this year we play one at Pitt. It does help us with revenues within our athletic department at a school like ours, but fortunately our administration isn’t saying to me, you have to go out and play four guarantee games so that we can fund a different program. You know, I don’t have that pressure on me, I don’t have a certain number of dollars that we have to generate through guarantee games. If I choose to, if I want to maybe buck our RPI up in a year when we think we have a chance to be pretty good, maybe help us with getting into a postseason tournament, I have the opportunity to schedule them if I’d like. But I don’t have pressure from my administration to schedule them to bring in a lot of money, and I think that’s a very good situation to be in, where your program is funded enough that there’s not pressure to go take four losses, just to help out with the budget. And I’m very appreciative that I don’t have to do that.

While road guarantee games are the usual case for mid-major match-ups with BCS conference teams, there are other ways to get matchups with BCS schools in other environments, the most common and a greatly preferred way, is in the early-season tournaments like the NIT Season Tip-Off or the Maui Invitational. These tournaments often (although not always) give mid-major programs a chance to face high-majors on a neutral court.

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Breaking Down the 2011 Preseason Wooden Award List

Posted by nvr1983 on October 5th, 2010

Yesterday, the Los Angeles Athletic Club announced its preseason list of the 50 candidates for the Wooden Award. Among those listed are names of players with whom we are all familiar, like Kyle Singler, Kalin Lucas, and Robbie Hummel, but there are also many lesser-known but still talented players like Nikola Vucevic and Kawhi Leonard (feel free to yell “East Coast bias!” in the comments). Even though this is one of about a thousand Player of the Year awards it holds a special place for most college basketball aficionados because of its namesake, the late John Wooden, and especially the year after his death. Established in 1976, The Wooden Award has been awarded to an individual after a 26-member panel — I’m sure our invite is lost in the snail mail or got caught in a spam filter — narrows down the list of candidates down to 20 players and then lets 1,000 voters (seriously, where’s our invite?) pick the ten All-Americans and the Player of the Year (last year Evan Turner took home the hardware). Looking back through past winners provides you with a veritable “Who’s Who” of college basketball in the past quarter century and includes luminaries like Phil Ford, Larry Bird, Ralph Sampson (twice), Michael Jordan, David Robinson, Danny Manning, Larry Johnson, Christian Laettner, Tim Duncan, Elton Brand, Shane Battier, Jason Williams, Jameer Nelson, Kevin Durant, and Tyler Hansbrough.

2010 Wooden Award Winner

One of the big caveats for the early season list is that it does not include freshman or transfers. Now, the latter usually do not factor into these awards with the exception of Larry Johnson and Wesley Johnson, who picked up a few votes last year, but the former (like Durant and Michael Beasley) are beginning to play a growing role in this and other awards. We do have a few issues with the list, which you will see more of over the next few weeks as we unveil our “Impact Players” by region. For today we will just focus on our favorites and some notable freshman who were left off the list, but we expect to be in the running for the actual award later this season. We will leave off the non-freshman omissions because frankly we do not expect any of them to factor into the final ballots.

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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 09.20.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on September 20th, 2010

Dear NCAA,
We promise that we have not had any contact with recruits outside the parameters set forth by your upstanding institution.

Rush the Court

  • Obviously the big news this past week has been the punishment of Bruce Pearl and the effect it would have on Tennessee‘s ability to recruit. It looks like some players including RTC favorite Adonis Thomas are beginning to express some reservations about going to a school that is sure to be closely followed by the NCAA.
  • The big actual recruiting news is that Arizona landed Josiah Turner, the #3 ranked point guard in this year’s class. Now Sean Miller faces an interesting dilemma — how to fit all his scholarship players onto a roster in light of the NCAA sanctions against them stemming from the Lute Olson era. One of the recruits that many expect the Wildcats to be in contention for is LeBryan Nash, but it appears like the talented small forward is leaning towards Oklahoma State over Arizona, Kansas, and Baylor.

    Sean Miller will be counting on Turner to turn the Wildcats around

  • Speaking of point guards. . . Austin Rivers, the de facto #1 point guard in the country and possibly the top player in the country, has narrowed his list down to three schools — Duke, UNC, and Kansas — after eliminating Florida from consideration. Some are speculating that Duke, which many consider to be the leader in the Rivers sweepstakes, could land both Rivers and Quinn Cook. [Ed. Note: Is Coach K cool with his star player and a potential recruit hanging out with Michael Beasley, a player of questionable character?]
  • Ohio State received a commitment from Sam Thompson, one of the top small forwards in this year’s class, with a little help from Evan Turner, who apparently has been texting Thompson to convince him to go to Columbus [Ed. Note: Is this allowed by the NCAA?].
  • With all of these top recruits committing it is interesting and somewhat refreshing to see Norvel Pelle, the #2 center in this year’s senior class, just beginning to take home visits.
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Recruiting Rumor Mill: 07.26.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 26th, 2010

This week’s action was mostly centered around Las Vegas (and we will certainly talk about Vegas), but there as always there was news from across the rest of the nation. Based on the way that these AAU tournaments run most of our “news” comes from tweets from courtside observers, but we do have a few articles sprinkled in here. If you have a hot recruiting tip or news that you want to share with us, e-mail us at

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