Morning Five: 07.23.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 23rd, 2010

  1. We hope to have more up on this later today, but this article by Dana O’Neil quoting prominent college coaches (anonymously, of course) about what is wrong with college basketball is reaching an epic level of buzz right now.  There is so much good material here that it’s difficult to pinpoint the best part, but one particular quote stuck out…  “One of my players [who left early for the draft] was working out with another top-five draft pick,” a coach said. “They got to talking and my kid said something about not having money or whatever on campus. The other kid said, ‘My coach set up expense accounts all over town for me. Yours didn’t?” If we assume that the coach is referring to the 2009-10 season, he’s got to be talking about Kentucky, Ohio State, Georgia Tech or Syracuse, right?  Who is your money on?
  2. Luke Winn gets all the tough assignments.  This week he’s reporting back the Alps of Austria with the twenty NCAA players who performed the best in the European Under-20 Championships.  Ok, maybe he wasn’t actually there (we have no idea, actually), but he still comes up with a good list.   Leading the way is… say it with us, now…  Arizona’s Kyryl Natyazhko from the Ukraine.  The 6’11 rising sophomore averaged 17/8 in the tournament, which is great news for Sean Miller’s team as they bring back a deep front line with Derrick Williams, Jamelle Horne and Solomon Hill.  Natyazhko only played eleven minutes per game last year, but with numbers like that, there are signs that he could have a breakout year in the desert in 10-11.
  3. In this article, Seth Greenberg comments on the First Four expansion of the NCAA Tournament, which some folks are humorously calling the Virginia Tech Invitational.  You have to figure that the Hokies would have gotten a bid in two of the last three seasons had there been a 68-team field, so there’s probably some truth to that quip.
  4. Rob Harrington of USA Today takes a look at the summer recruiting circuit to see what themes have emerged as Las Vegas gears up with over 600 AAU teams in town for its various events this weekend.  A quick primer — Michael Gilchrist is still #1, there has been no apparent “Butler Effect,” and players are milking the process to announce in made-for-tv style events.
  5. CBS Sportsline is doing an interesting piece called the Flourishing Five to while away the summer months where they break down the top five college programs in America who are at the top of the heap in both basketball and football.  Their #5 choice is Pittsburgh, an interesting one to say the least.  The obvious choices for the top two are Texas and Ohio State, but who are the others?  Florida has to be considered among the top four, but the other one is a bit perplexing.  Would UNC be an option with Butch Davis now at the helm in football?  How about Wisconsin with Bo Ryan and Bret Bielema getting it done?  The top four should be released over the next couple of weeks.
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Morning Five: 07.21.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 21st, 2010

  1. The biggest news in the world of college athletics came out of South Central today as USC announced that its longtime athletic director Mike Garrett will step down in the wake of probation for both the football and men’s basketball programs on his watch.  Pat Haden, another former USC quarterback, will take over for Garrett in that capacity.  New USC president Max Nikias, still weeks away from formally taking over, also decreed that the school will remove all athletic references (photos, murals and the like) to Reggie Bush and OJ Mayo prior to the arrival of incoming students next month.  They’re even sending Bush’s Heisman Trophy back!  Former head coach Tim Floyd, currently whiling his time away in El Paso, had little to say about the matter.
  2. Notre Dame’s Mike Brey to his irresponsible players Tim Abromaitis and Eric Atkins:  “A lot of sweating will be involved.”  Here’s hoping that they have to run a mile for every beer imbibed.  Y’know, because of the extra calories.
  3. Some coaching news from yesterday.  UIC’s Jimmy Collins announced his retirement effective at the end of August after fourteen seasons at the school — including three NCAA Tournament appearances and six other winning campaigns.  As Goodman reports, the timing of this is odd given that it’s currently the height of recruiting season, but Collins has had medical issues in the past.  We hope he’s ok.
  4. One piece of player news that slipped past us over the weekend — Gonzaga (ok, RTC) fan favorite Bol Kong is leaving Spokane for personal reasons.  Kong averaged 4.5 PPG in his only season for the Zags, but showed promise with a solid three-point stroke (43%) and a nose for the ball.  We hope to see him re-surface somewhere soon.
  5. Jeff Goodman and Matt Norlander did a cool thing to get ready for this weekend’s recruiting extravaganza in Vegas.  They polled the top recruits to see whom they would choose as the best in several categories, and the results were interesting.  Austin Rivers was named the top player, Michael Gilchrist the best defender and hardest worker, Brad Beal the best shooter, Marquis Teague the best shooter, and Anthony Davis the best rebounder.  Oh, and best trash-talker: Quincy Miller (no surprise if you read his tweets).  It should be a fun weekend sorting through all of these players out in the desert.
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The Meteoric Rise Of Anthony Davis

Posted by nvr1983 on July 20th, 2010

For most of his high school career, Michael Gilchrist (a recent Kentucky verbal commit), has been the top-rated player in his class. Now it looks like the talented small foward might be losing his place atop those rankings through no fault of his own. Instead, the reason for his drop is the spectacular play of Anthony Davis over the past few weeks, which has prompted many analysts to anoint the 6’10” power forward out of the “Mean Streets” of Chicago (that’s actually his AAU team’s name) as the new #1 player in the rising senior class. Davis has been rising up the charts so rapidly that even in-state schools like Illinois have only began to pay particular attention to him in the past few months. An ESPN Chicago writer took a look at the rise of Davis back in May while he was rocketing up the class rankings, but was still not receiving “#1 in the class” praise. Currently, the only listed “schools of interest” are SyracuseOhio State, and Kentucky although there are reports that UNC is reportedly interested in Davis (and which school wouldn’t be?). However it appears that the Tar Heels sit in 4th position at the moment while the Davis family analyzes UNC’s current situation.

Credit: David Dixon/Natural Talent Scouting

Where will Davis land?

All of this begs the question as to how someone as talented as Davis could go relatively unnoticed in the over-saturated recruiting landscape. The only comparison player we could think of who rocketed up this quickly this late was Tracy McGrady who went from a relative unknown coming into the summer before his senior year to the top recruit in his class by the time he graduated a little over a decade ago, but that was pre-YouTube and even pre-Google (yes, there was a world before Google). Part of the reason that Davis has shot up the rankings is because of a ridiculous growth spurt during his sophomore and junior years (6-7 inches in 18 months according to Evan Daniels). Still some Illinois recruiting gurus [Ed. Note: We are imagining a Hoop Dreams-like TV segment here.] only had him as the #9 player in the state of Illinois after the high school season ended just a few months ago. There has been some speculation amongst Illinois high school basketball fans that Davis may have been ranked so low coming into the summer because he played in a weak Chicago Public League division that most of the recruiting gurus paid little attention to and until this summer he had skipped the AAU summer circuit. All of this seems perfectly reasonable although somewhat surprising so we are left to wonder just how good Davis actually is. For that we turned to Jeff Goodman of Fox Sports and Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog, who have seen Davis in person and spoken with Davis and people close to him.

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Morning Five: 07.13.10 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 12th, 2010

So we heard there was some news about our beloved NCAA Tournament yesterday. . .

  1. As was reported here at RTC, the NCAA has announced the format of the “First Four”. Over the next few days you will see a ton of analysis online, but be sure to keep checking back here, as we’ll probably have more to say on this topic, and we want to hear your takes as well.  Later this morning, our first Bracketology taking into account the 68-team field for 2011 will be released.
  2. Some of you may remember Royce White from his bizarre YouTube exit from Minnesota almost seven months ago. White recently announced that he intends to play for Iowa State and Fred Hoiberg.  White is filing an appeal to play for the Cyclones next year instead of sitting out the usual one season. Hoiberg could really use some talent inside after losing Craig Brackins and a group of other decent-if-not-great inside players to NCAA rulings or transfers.
  3. To all the couch coaches out there, you will have to wait there until at least the middle of November as Chicago State filled the final head coaching vacancy in Division 1 men’s basketball when they named Tracy Dildy as their new head coach yesterday. We would like to congratulate Dildy on his first college head coaching position after spending nearly two decades as an assistant at six different schools.
  4. Boise State rising senior guard La’Shard Anderson was arrested on Saturday night on two misdemeanors: disorderly household and resisting/obstructing officers. Based on reports, it seems like police responded to a loud party complaint at Anderson’s residence and he refused to cooperate with police when he spoke with them outside the house. A hearing is set for August 2nd. To date, Boise State’s only response is that the school is reviewing their conduct policy (read: hoping that the charges against Anderson are dropped so the school can give him the minimum punishment possible).
  5. Some good news for Kentucky fans although it will be hard to ever top getting five 1st round picks (I’m joking.  Seriously, don’t shut down GMail with hate mail). Fresh off their FIBA U17 World Championship, future Wildcats Marquis Teague and Michael Gilchirst talk about how winning is more important to them than stats (shocking thing to say in the news), but UK fans have to be impressed with the stats that the future Wildcats put up even though Teague did struggle with his shooting during the tournament.
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2010 NBA Draft Winners and Losers

Posted by zhayes9 on June 25th, 2010

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist at Rush the Court.

Now that the Draft is complete, time to look back at Thursday night’s winners and losers, from coaches to NBA teams to players to conferences and everything in between:

Paul George saw his stock skyrocket all the way to #10 and the Pacers, Al Bello/Getty Images


Big 12 – One of the premier college basketball conferences has gained quite a surge of momentum in the last few weeks. Big 12 commish Dan Beebe convinced Texas it was in their best interests to keep the league in tact even after the defections of Colorado and Nebraska, two of the more downtrodden BCS-conference hoops programs in the country. After chopping off those two anchors, a ten-team, 18-game round robin format has been agreed to starting in 2012. The Big 12 momentum only continued at the draft on Thursday where an astonishing seven of the top 24 selections reside from the conference (and Kentucky isn’t even a member). Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh, Kansas’ Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry, Texas’ Avery Bradley and Damion James, Oklahoma State’s James Anderson and Iowa State’s Craig Brackins, not to mention Cyclone transfer Wes Johnson, were all nabbed in the first 24 picks. The Big 12 barely trailed the ACC in terms of overall conference strength last season and the results of the first round only confirmed those numbers.

John Calipari – As Fox Sports Jeff Goodman astutely pointed out, expect plenty of John Calipari mug shots in near future drafts unless he bolts for a dream NBA job. Five of his Kentucky Wildcats from one recruiting class were taken in the first round on Thursday, from John Wall at #1 overall to Daniel Orton at #29. Next year could see two more Kentucky players announced early in the draft in center Enes Kanter and point guard Brandon Knight with forward Terrence Jones another potential first rounder. In 2011-12 when Marquis Teague, Michael Gilchrist and another top ten recruit TBD join Big Blue Nation, it’ll be the same Calipari hugging his revolving door of players on a June night in NYC. Don’t think this is just Calipari doing this for his departing players or that recruits are not noticing. He’s fully aware of what his face constantly showing up on ESPN’ s cameras means: furthering his reputation of sending talented players to the riches of the NBA. And quickly.

Paul George – It’s been a quick ascension for George, a workout wonder who saw his draft stock shoot up in the last few weeks until he landed to Indiana at #10. It’s doubtful even George saw this coming after being lightly recruited out of Palmdale, Calif, and settling on Fresno State for his college choice. George saw both his FG% and 3pt% plummet from his freshman to sophomore seasons and he only upped his PPG by 2.5 and RPG by 1.0 along with very low assist totals. He also played for a 15-18 WAC team against far more inferior competition than, say, Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who went one pick later to Memphis. Henry averaged 13.5 PPG, shot 46% from two and 42% from three on a team filled with players who needed touches.

Greivis Vasquez’ reaction – I don’t think anyone who watched Greivis Vasquez play four years at Maryland was surprised when they saw the emotional Venezuelan surrounded by family and friends in the crowd at Radio City Music Hall waiting for his name to be chosen. Vasquez has been projected as an early-to-mid second round pick- a scorer, leader and improved floor general that simply lacks the lateral quickness to defend NBA guards. Yet rumblings surfaced that Memphis loved Vasquez at #28. Sure enough, when he was pegged at that exact spot, the only outward, raw emotion we saw Thursday night emerged as Vasquez pumped his fist, hugged his family and practically sprinted to shake David Stern’s hand on the draft stage. Congratulations to Greivis.

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Marquis Teague To Kentucky

Posted by jstevrtc on April 22nd, 2010

Marquis Teague, the top-rated point guard and fourth-ranked player overall in the high school class of 2011, announced moments ago that he planned to attend Kentucky and play for John Calipari a couple of autumns from now.  This news had been unofficially broken on Twitter yesterday by Teague’s friend Tony Wroten, Jr., another highly ranked (and still undecided) PG prospect in the class of 2011, so today’s announcement came as little surprise.

Teague is the latest Kentucky commit. There will be more. (IndyStar)

This verbal gives Calipari his second top 5 prospect for 2011 in the last week.  The top-ranked player in that class, 6’7 SF Michael Gilchrist, committed to Kentucky last Wednesday, the same day that big-time PG prospect Brandon Knight decided to bring his skills to Lexington for next season.  As if that week weren’t good enough, at Saturday’s Jordan Brand Classic (so-called) in New York City, Doron Lamb, a 6’4 shooting guard ranked in the top 30 for 2010, also pledged to Kentucky.  And the commitments — for both 2011 and 2010 — don’t look to be done, yet.

Despite the lack of surprise, Teague’s verbal today is also noteworthy because of where he isn’t going.  Hoop fans know all about Marquis’ brother Jeff Teague, the former star at Wake Forest and current Atlanta Hawk, but Teague’s father Shawn played for Rick Pitino at Boston University.  Like Jeff before him, Marquis stars for Pike High School in Indianapolis, not even a two hour drive from Louisville.  The Cardinals could use a point guard now that Edgar Sosa’s gone.  We’re not saying the two things are related or how much effect it ever really could have had, but as of late last season Pitino’s staff at Louisville includes a former assistant at Pike High School named Shabaka Lands, hired as “special assistant to the head coach.”  It’s easy to see how badly Pitino wanted Teague, and with the Cardinals having only (as of now) one verbal commitment from a player within the ESPNU-100 — 6’5 SG Justin Coleman, from Huntington WV — and considering that Teague was at one time considered a virtual lock for Louisville, Cardinal supporters are worried that Teague’s verbal commitment today is an indicator of how highly-ranked high school prospects regard these two programs in the Bluegrass State.

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In 1-and-Done Era, Experience Wins Championships

Posted by rtmsf on April 16th, 2010

(special h/t to Luke Winn for inspiring this analysis with his article here)

You may have heard  in recent days that Kentucky’s John Calipari has been filling up on the tasty nougat that has risen to the top of the Class of 2010 high school basketball recruiting lists.  Five-star prospect Brandon Knight followed an impressive chorus line of 1-and-done Calipari point guards (D. Rose, T. Evans, J. Wall) by committing to the Wildcats on Wednesday, and Doron Lamb,  another five-star combo guard ranked in the top 25, committed today.  Turkish stud Enes Kanter committed last week, and there are rumors that others, including versatile top 15 forwards Terrance Jones and CJ Leslie, could be next.  All this, and we haven’t even mentioned yet that Michael Gilchrist, the consensus top player in the Class of 2011, has already verballed to go to Kentucky after next season.

Knight is a Great Talent, But Will He Take UK to the Final Four?

The point here is as clear as Ben Roethlisberger’s analgesic salves — high school prospects with dreams of NBA riches a year from now view John Calipari as the pied piper of the NBA Draft.  Follow him down the primrose path, and you will end up playing in the League one year later.  John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are the trailblazers here.  With all four projected as first rounders in June, the hype of Calipari’s flute-playing squares nicely with reality.  And Kentucky’s regal basketball program is the beneficiary.

Or is it?

We’re big believers that there are external benefits to programs who recruit and enroll 1-and-done players beyond wins, losses and NCAA Tournament success.  In fact, every year we do exactly such an evaluation that includes criteria beyond that scope.  For example, it is our view that the Texas program is still benefitting today from its one year of Kevin Durant on campus in 2007 even though UT only made the second round of the Tournament that season.  The same goes with Michael Beasley at Kansas State in 2008.  Call it the Jordan Effect.  Even if the players who are later inspired to follow Durant and Beasley to those campuses aren’t as good as those two were, there is a significant residual ‘coolness’ effect in recruiting those younger players who can help sustain the quality of the program over time.  To put it in terms of Kentucky, a 12-year old right now may spend the next few years idolizing John Wall in the NBA, and when it comes time for him to make his school choice in five years, the Wildcats and Calipari would have already have an inherent advantage over other schools.

With that said, we know what Kentucky fans hope to get from all of these 1-and-done types, and it’s not just a bunch of springtime recruiting victories.  Eventually it needs to translate to wins, most specifically those in March and April as Winn alludes to in his article.  The question then that we analyze here is whether a focus on recruiting 1-and-doners will get a team to that goal.  The available evidence we have, using admittedly a very small sample size, says that it will not.

Take a look at the table below, which lists all sixteen Final Four teams from the 1-and-done era (2007-10).

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Kentucky Cleans Up To Open Spring Signing Period

Posted by jstevrtc on April 14th, 2010

It’s the first day of the spring signing period, and we saw a few of the top remaining undecided high school seniors choose a cap (or jersey) and commit to a college today.  Two of them were surprises only insofar as they’re big-time recruits who decided to attend mid-major schools, but it was Kentucky that made the most noise today.  This info came mostly from the ESPN-U broadcast, so we’re showing each player’s overall rating in the ESPNU-100 Class of 2010 in parentheses:

The biggest verbal of the day was no surprise, since the buzz about it had long preceded the actual announcement.  Point guard Brandon Knight (4), a 6’5 lightning bolt who can score as well as he leads, pulled out a blue cap and committed to play for John Calipari at Kentucky.  He joins Enes Kanter (25) and Stacey Poole (51) in a Wildcat class for next year that might not yet be complete.  The bill of Knight’s UK baseball cap already had a major curve to it, confirming what everyone already knew — this decision was made a long time ago.  Later in the day, the top prospect in the class of 2011, 6’7 small forward Michael Gilchrist also verballed to Kentucky, further ensuring that there will be virtually no hangover after the honeymoon season of Wall/Cousins/Patterson/Bledsoe.

Knight follows another blue-clad wearer of #11.

In a class top-heavy with excellent point guards, two mid-majors scored fine floor-leaders this afternoon.  6’1 PG Ray McCallum (17) decided to stay home and play for his father at Detroit, and 6’5 SG Trey Zeigler (33) — sporting the greatest full windsor knot we’ve ever seen, with apologies to ESPN-U workhorse Lowell Galindo — continued the father-son trend in the state of Michigan by donning a Central Michigan cap.  Zeigler’s father Ernie is the coach for the Chippewas.  Zeigler specifically cited Butler’s run to the championship game this past season as one of the reasons he was comfortable in playing for a mid-major program.  There’s no question that the chance to play for their respective fathers was an incentive for these gentlemen to commit where they did, but it will be an interesting thing to watch over the next couple of years as to whether or not other top-flight recruits pull the trigger on staying close to home at other mid-major schools, especially if another small program can equal or even surpass Butler’s achievements from 2009-2010.

Speaking of the Bulldogs, we should note here that Gordon Hayward has decided to submit his name for consideration in this year’s NBA Draft, but he won’t be hiring an agent anytime soon.  Butler supporters — and there are definitely legions more, after this past season — will be sweating out Hayward’s decision-making process this summer; the Bulldogs will lose Willie Veasley and Avery Jukes to graduation, which is substantial.  Hayward’s departure would make a trip to Houston next April all but impossible.  If he comes back, though, that means the Hayward/Shelvin Mack/Matt Howard/Ronald Nored nucleus would all be returning, and we’re confident that coach Brad Stevens can groom players to fill the spaces left by Veasley and Jukes.  Butler has no commitments within the top 100, but we doubt Stevens is sweating.

Sullinger, a Columbus native, already has the Buckeye staff smiling. (G. Housteau)

Marquette took a step in replacing the graduated Lazar Hayward today by signing 6’6 SF/PF Jae Crowder, the junior college player of the year.  Crowder averaged almost 19 PPG and led Howard College (TX) to the juco title this year.  This one had been known for some time, but Marquette coach Buzz Williams made the official announcement today.

Despite Kentucky’s recruiting haul today, as it pertains to the class of 2010, the top rating still belongs to Ohio State.  They’re extremely excited about getting 6’8 PF Jared Sullinger (2) on campus (as well they should be), in addition to 6’8 SF Deshaun Thomas (12), 6’4 SG Lenzelle Smith, Jr. (80), and 6’4 SG Jordan Sibert (82).  North Carolina isn’t far behind, with Roy Williams bringing in the top-ranked player in the class in 6’8 SF Harrison Barnes (1), 6’6 SG Reggie Bullock (18), and 6’4 PG Kendall Marshall (22).  With Kentucky rumored to be leading for at least two other players within the top 30, and eight players in the top 100 still undecided, the matter of who has the best recruiting class could be altered as soon as this Saturday at the Jordan Brand Classic in New York City, where more players are expected to announce their college intentions.

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Morning Five: 04.14.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on April 14th, 2010

  1. You already know about Wright State’s Brad Brownell going to Clemson; here are some other comings and goings from yesterday.  Thirty-three year old associate head coach Billy Donlon will be promoted to the top spot at Wright State, making him one of the youngest head coaches in America.  In other coaching news, Dan Hurley has hired his brother, Bobby, to act as an assistant on his bench at Wagner.  On the player side, Baylor’s Ekpe Udoh announced that he will test the waters but he will not sign with an agent, therefore leaving open the (small) possibility of returning to what could be another nasty team in Waco next year.  Udoh is (14/10/4 blks) is projected as a lottery pick.  Duquesne’s Melquan Bolding is leaving the Duke program, whereabouts unknown, while New Mexico State’s Jahmar Young, recently accused of involvement in an attack on an officer in Las Cruces, will sign with an agent and not return to NMSU next season.  In some good news for college basketball, Tennessee’s Scotty Hopson will return to Knoxville next season rather than joining the hordes leaving for the NBA Draft.
  2. Today is a huge day for recruiting, as the first day of the spring signing period begins.  Of particular note are the announcements of the top remaining player in the Class of 2010, Brandon Knight, and the top player in the Class of 2011, Michael Gilchrist, both planning to announce their college choices at 4pm on ESPNU.  Kentucky is rumored to be the leader for both.  Door, revolveth.
  3. The NCAA Legislative Council relaxed a recruiting rule that will now allow coaches to have “recruiting discussions” while players are attending summer camps and clinics on their campuses.  This rule was nearly impossible to enforce in its previous iteration, so this is a natural consequence of what amounted to a worthless measure.  There are still limitations to what coaches can do, but this just validates the conversations that were already happening.
  4. John Wall is joining the Lebron James-backed LRMR Marketing Firm to help build his brand at the next level of basketball.  Considering that James himself is on the fast track to Ali/MJ/Tiger-dom, this is probably a good idea for Wall’s future marketability.  It says here that he’s got the chops (and game) to make himself into quite a conglomerate himself.
  5. This is sick, but totally justifies why police cameras are installed to watch the cops as much as the citizenry.  Dating back to Maryland’s win over Duke in late February, video was released yesterday that supports a student’s claim that he was attacked and beaten by several Prince George’s County police officers for simply skipping down the street in celebration.  This evidence directly contradicts the involved officers’ formal statements about the incident.  No sympathy here.  Strip these animals of their badges, lock them up and throw away the key.  There’s no place for this behavior from those who are supposed to be protecting us.

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07.20.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on July 20th, 2009

Is there a worse time of year for roundball fans than July/August?  Well, is there?  Let’s see what’s been cooking over the last week or so…

  • Economics, NCAA Style.  Have you guys heard that we’re in a recession – that the economy may not exactly be whirring along at a blistering pace?  Inevitably, college athletic departments are starting to feel the crunch nearly as much as your local Citibastard – some are cutting expenses such as chartered flights and media guides, while even the venerable and uber-rich Stanford athletic department is cutting employees.  Meanwhile, schools such as UCLA, Cal, and others are instituting high-dollar seat licensing fees (we’re talking hundreds of thousands) to finance their stadium renovations and attend their games for the next quarter-century.  Crisis is another word for opportunity, and we’re wondering if the current economic climate will only provide leverage for the NCAA haves (Florida, Texas, Ohio St., UCLA, etc.) to exploit and exacerbate the widening gap between themselves and the have-nots by using private equity as the hammer.  The NCAA ADs have given lip service to construct a more equitable model of competition for its member institutions, but like the Yankees/Red Sox freight train in MLB, the arms race inertia is already accelerating downhill and moving too quickly to be stopped.  The final solution may ultimately have to be a separation of BCS schools from the remainder of D1, and to get there, you have to pay to play.   
  • 2009 ACC/Big Ten Challenge.  Last year we had very high hopes that the Big Ten would finally get off the mat and win one of these challenges.  Alas, MSU took its first of two emasculations at the hands of UNC last year in Ford Field, and the Midwesterners lost 6-5.  This year’s schedule is out, and unfortunately for the Big Ten, our first glance reveals that the odds are significantly in the ACC’s favor to win this event again.  The Monday and Tuesday night games (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) favor home teams Virginia, NC State, UNC, Purdue and Iowa, but we’d expect the ACC to break serve by Maryland winning in Bloomington for an early 4-2 lead.  Even with a Dec. 2 slate that favors the Big Ten, with Michigan and OSU holding serve at home to match Clemson, we’d expect Minnesota to get a road win at Miami (FL) only for the league to fall on its face again when Duke does what it does and rips Wisconsin a new one in the Kohl Center.  The ACC wins again, 6-5.  We have it coming down to three road winners, with the ACC taking two of them (Maryland and Duke).  How do you see it?
  • UConn Savior?  This was quiet over the weekend but we find it to be a significant piece of news out of the UConn program, which is that the oft-confounding Ater Majok has committed that he will indeed play for Jim Calhoun’s Huskies next season.  Majok’s eligibility has been a wild ride for UConn faithful, beginning a year-plus ago with his verbal commitment and two semesters of classwork in Storrs, only to be followed by a flirtation with the NBA Draft (withdrawing) and lucrative professional options overseas.  The versatile 6’10 forward will help Calhoun shore up a somewhat inexperienced frontcourt led by returnees Stanley Robinson and Gavin Edwards, and if the reports of his potential are true, could provide an offensive force on the blocks to relieve some of the pressure from the very talented perimeter tandem of Kemba Walker and Jerome Dyson.  Major good news for the UConn program, which has taken its share of hits the past few months.   
  • Quick Hits.  Noel Johnson: the former USC recruit will end up at ClemsonDave Bliss: resurfaces in Texas (not coaching, thank God).  Karen Sypher: no merit to her complaint against PitinoTark the Shark: his spinal surgery delayedKeno Davisextended through 2016Al-Farouq Aminu: looking to dominate in 2009-10Larry Sanders: thinking first round next season.  Renardo Sidney: Part 1 of the NCAA inquiryLance Stephenson: much ado about disorderly conductJared Sullinger: another in a run of Buckeye bigsHarrison Barnes: get used to that nameMichael Gilchrist: another World Wide Wes guy with no chance at a childhoodSeth Davis: analyzes the top players on the summer recruiting circuitSouth Carolina: in violation of impermissible snackage.
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