Big East Burning Question: Are Syracuse And Jim Boeheim Really Overrated?

Posted by mlemaire on January 15th, 2013

We are admittedly well late to the party with this question, but amidst all of the fawning articles and celebratory columns remarking on the incredible 900 wins that Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has amassed, there was one turd in the punch bowl — CBS Sports college basketball analyst and noted Syracuse agitator Doug Gottlieb. Gottlieb has contended for quite some time that Boeheim is a great coach, but not an “elite” coach, especially when compared to some of his contemporaries who have had more success in the NCAA Tournament such as Tom Izzo and Jim Calhoun. Now its true that Gottlieb has a rather testy history with Syracuse, its fans, and its famed head coach, but for the sake of this argument, we will ignore the suspicions of personal bias and just take his argument on its face. So without further delay, we posed the question to the three microsite writers and here is what they came up with.

Will Tucker: It’s hard to pass up an opportunity to lampoon Doug Gottlieb, especially when his subject is a coach with whom he seemingly has an ax to grind. But it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater here. As Mike points out, when you compare Jim Boeheim’s postseason accomplishments to those of his peers, his 900+ wins––amassed disproportionately early in the season––serve as an indictment in their distribution as much as a milestone in their volume. And Gottlieb’s accusation that Boeheim’s soft nonconference schedules have been a disservice to his team’s toughness is a fair criticism that merits further investigation. But Doug’s aversion to nuance is on full display, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. While Boeheim’s nonconference scheduling is and should be fair game, Gottlieb further attributes Syracuse’s postseason stumbles to feasting on an overrated Big East schedule. This seems more ad hominem than intellectually honest, and Doug conveniently ignores the 2010-11 UConn and 2011-12 Louisville teams that reached Final Fours with nearly ten Big East losses apiece. He also summarily mocks Boeheim’s zone defense as an inferior system nobody else uses with any success. In doing so, he ignores that Boeheim’s protégé Rick Pitino took an offensively stunted group to a Final Four with a variation of that zone last season, and the Cards retain the most efficient defense in the country again this year (Syracuse is hot on their heels at #3). Rhetoric notwithstanding, at the crux of this discussion is a fan’s aesthetic preference between regular season success and tournament success. Sure, the two aren’t mutually exclusive (paging Mike Kryzyzewski), but most coaches fall somewhere toward either end of the spectrum. Knowing all too well how a team’s struggles in the winter can exacerbate my seasonal affective disorder, I’m philosophical about the whole thing. I’ll take a Sweet 16 preceded by four months of big wins, high rankings, and conference championships over an agonizing regular season capped off by an Elite Eight––every time. Gottlieb subscribes to the notion that tournament success supersedes any other measuring stick, and the rigidness of his assumptions leaves little room for us to meet in the middle. Ultimately, I think it detracts from the salient questions his raises about what makes a coach great.

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Big East M5: 01.02.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on January 2nd, 2013

bigeast_morning5(2)

  1. One could say that Kevin Ollie’s first Big East season got going in the wrong directionAfter late game heroics for both UConn and Marquette by Ryan Boatright and Junior Cadougan, respectively, the two teams lined up on the wrong sides of the center circle to begin overtime. Enosch Wolf won the tip, and Shabazz Napier had an open look on what should have been his own basket swatted away by Jamil Wilson on what normally would have been a goaltend.  After reviewing the play, the referees did not count the goaltend for UConn as the Huskies shot at the wrong basket.  However, referee Karl Hess later admitted that after letting the players play in the wrong direction, they should have given UConn the two points. UConn would go on to lose to the Golden Eagles by six, 82-76.
  2. Louisville hasn’t had trouble putting points on the board, as the Cardinals are averaging 78.2 points per game so far this season. However, Rick Pitino is still not happy with his team’s defense. Louisville’s 17-point lead over Kentucky was nearly erased as the Cardinals played tentatively on defense due to foul trouble. That doesn’t gel with the high-pressure full court scheme that Pitino likes to use. Another concern is the team’s interior defense — despite the imposing presence of Gorgui Dieng (out for most of December with an injury), the Cardinals are still only 14th among Big East teams in blocked shots, a number that Pitino would surely like to move up.
  3. Jim Boeheim has been the head coach at Syracuse since the nascent days of the Big East conference, so naturally he has many strong feelings and opinions about the league that he credits for his national championship and Hall of Fame induction. In a two-hour interview with USA Today, Boeheim discusses the past and future of the conference, including the near-“warfare” like atmosphere of the coaches meetings in the 1980s, the Big East media contract negotiations which broke down before Syracuse and Pittsburgh made the announcement that they would be moving to the ACC, and, of course, his future plans to coach the Orange. Boeheim keeps his plans close to the vest and marches to the beat of his own drum, but when he does decide to hang the whistle up, he is confident that the program will survive and thrive under Mike Hopkins – “I don’t have any plans on retiring, right now. Could that change? Yeah, I think that could change. But I don’t have any plans on retiring. I know Mike will be the coach and Syracuse will be in great hands… I told every recruit the last five years that I think I am going to coach but don’t know it. Mike will be the coach. And the (recruits) all came. Most recruits don’t care anymore because they only think they will be here one year.”
  4. Seton Hall was sitting solidly on the bubble last March before a shocking 86-58 loss at league dregs DePaul derailed the Pirates’ dancing aspirations. Seton Hall opens its Big East season with the same road trip tonight, looking to improve on an 11-2 record with a win over an improved Blue Demons squad. While some Big East teams may lack some motivation when playing DePaul, Brandon Mobley and Seton Hall have all that they need: “If playing at DePaul is not motivation, then I don’t know what is… Not only did we lose, we got embarrassed and that cost us the NCAA Tournament. We’re going up there with a grudge on our shoulder.”
  5. In news that is not directly related to basketball but may effect the futures of UConn, Cincinnati, and USF, the three schools who appear to be getting left behind by conference expansion and realignment, Boise State will no longer be joining the Big East in football. There is a good chance that San Diego State, which was also set to join for football only, may follow suit, leaving the remaining three Big East members and their future rivals in an increasingly vulnerable conference. In addition, the Mountain West has reworked its television contract which will give increased revenue to teams who make national television appearances. There have even been rumors that the MW could end up raiding the Big East for a school like Cincinnati. The conference carousel goes round and round…
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Tipping Off The Big East Countdown: #2 Syracuse

Posted by Dan Lyons on November 11th, 2012

In our St. John’s preview, we stated that the Johnnies went through about as much adversity as one team could in a single season. If that’s the case, Syracuse was a close second. The Bernie Fine scandal would have been enough to derail most teams, but it seemed to put a chip on the shoulder of the Orange, who spent a portion of the year ranked first in the nation after Kentucky lost at Indiana. The Fab Melo saga was harder to overcome, and came to a head in Syracuse’s Elite Eight loss to Ohio State. Syracuse lost four of its main rotation players from last season – guards Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters, forward Kris Joseph, and center Fab Melo – but look to plug in a couple of impressive underclassmen and make another run at a final Big East championship and perhaps a Final Four.

Jim Boeheim has been knocking on the door of his fourth Final Four over the last few years.  Will this young Syracuse squad be the one to break through? (AP)

Schedule

Syracuse doesn’t have too many marquee games on the non-conference slate. Their most intriguing match-up is their first game against San Diego State, which will be played on the deck of the USS Midway in San Diego on Sunday afternoon. SU also travels to Arkansas for the SEC-Big East challenge, and will take on one of the teams filling the void they are leaving in the Big East – Temple – at Madison Square Garden. In the Big East schedule, Syracuse shares home-and-homes with Villanova, Providence, Louisville, and Georgetown. The Hoyas host the Orange in their last ever Big East game, which should be one for the ages.

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Big East Summer Capsules: Syracuse Orange

Posted by mlemaire on July 19th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Syracuse.

1. Now we know, this season will be the program’s last hurrah in the Big East.

Most knew this was coming, but now it is official. The Orange will bolt for the ACC in July 2013 after reaching an agreement with the Big East, and they will be taking one of the conference’s most storied basketball programs with it. I don’t care how you slice it; this is bad news for people who enjoy Big East basketball. The ‘Cuse was a perennially elite team, and no matter who the conference tries to woo to replace the Orange, they won’t be able to fill those shoes. There are a whole slew of rivalries that will be cast aside, and Jim Boeheim, one of the game’s all-time great talkers, will be taking his sarcastic wit to slightly warmer climates. The Orange are going to continue to be one’s of the game’s best programs on a yearly basis, but for those of us who grew up on John Wallace, Etan Thomas, and Gerry McNamara, the move is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

2. The coaching staff goes national.

For yet another summer, Jim Boeheim will be lending a hand to USA Basketball.

At this point everyone who cares knows that Jim Boeheim has been an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski on the Olympic team for some time now. But some may not have realized that assistant coach Mike Hopkins will also be coaching for the country, as he is the co-head coach of the National Select Team and both coaches have said they expect to learn a lot from the experience. Boeheim has also admitted that their absence puts a stress on recruiting, although he downplayed its impact. This will be the first year that Boeheim has coached for Team USA in July, which is usually the summer month when he does the most recruiting. Still, the Orange also haven’t exactly been on the downswing when it comes to signing talent in recent years, so Syracuse fans should probably take this as a positive.

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Morning Five: 05.22.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 22nd, 2012

  1. Yesterday, long-time Pacific coach Bob Thomason announced that he would retire following the upcoming season. Those on the East Coast may not be familiar with Thomason’s work, but he has compiled a remarkable record during his time at Pacific. During his quarter century at the school Thomason led the school to four NCAA Tournament appearances while picking up 414 wins, a record for the Big West Conference. His career probably peaked with opening round wins in the 2004 and 2005 NCAA Tournament against Providence and Pittsburgh, respectively. We doubt that this will get much coverage during the season outside of possibly a brief mention on SportsCenter after his last game, but if you are watching Big West basketball next season take a moment to check out Thomason and his Pacific team.
  2. Those who are weary of the dominance of a certain Worldwide Leader in college basketball will be pleased to hear that some of the regular season games previously televised on ESPN’s family of networks will now be on CBS Sports starting this coming season. After reaching an agreement with ESPN, CBS Sports will have the right to broadcast games from the ACC, Big 12, and Pac-12 with a total of 20 games growing to 26 games during the following seasons as well as the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship and the Missouri Valley Championship Game for the duration of the agreement (the duration of the agreement was not disclosed). Although ESPN still is the leader in college basketball coverage with its near monopoly on regular season coverage, CBS Sports in conjunction with Turner Sports is making a strong push in adding to its exclusive coverage of the NCAA Tournament. With these moves it will be interesting to see if CBS Sports is able to poach some of ESPN’s top analysts with the promise of more high-profile games.
  3. Georgetown picked up a big commitment yesterday when junior small forward Stephen Domingo committed to play for the school in the 2013-14 season. Domingo, a top-30 recruit in the class of 2013 and an all-state player in California, chose Georgetown over a long list of schools that included offers from Arizona, UCLA, Stanford, Harvard, and Louisville. In the end, Domingo decided that the Hoya system provided him with the best opportunity to showcase his versatility and “develop into an outstanding basketball player and an outstanding young man”. Hoya fans are probably celebrating the addition now, but we should point out that there is a lot of time left before Domingo or any other player in his class can sign and a lot can change during that time so we wouldn’t go Sharpie on this one just yet.
  4. The sudden departure of Terrell Stoglin left Maryland with a big hole in its backcourt heading into the upcoming season, but they may have found a reasonable replacement in the form of Albany tranfer Logan Aronhalt, who averaged 13.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season. Aronhalt, who will be able to play immediately for the Terrapins after graduating with a degree in December, will have to answer questions about his athleticism after multiple knee injuries and chronic pain caused him to see limited playing time at the end of Albany’s season (26 minutes in its final seven games). However, he can provide them with veteran leadership and savvy as they try to navigate a difficult stretch to begin the season on a roster laden with younger players and an injured starting point guard (Pe’Shon Howard). At the very least, he should be able to provide the younger players with a role model and ease their transition into the college game.
  5. Syracuse fans waiting to get a look at their next coach (whenever Jim Boeheim decides to retire) will get a chance when Mike Hopkins acts as a co-coach of the USA Basketball Select Team that will play the US Olympic Team in its training camp. Hopkins along with former Toronto Raptors coach Jay Triano will coach a team that includes Kyrie Irving, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and several other well-known younger players against whatever team the US assembles for its defense of the Olympic gold medal in London. While Hopkins will not get to coach any of the players he recruited or coached at Syracuse, he will have a very interested onlooker from the other sideline in Senior National Team assistant coach Jim Boeheim.
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RTC Conference Primers: #1 – Big East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the RTC correspondent for the Big East. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • The Realignment Circus Continues: The latest blow to the Big East came just recently as West Virginia was accepted into the Big 12. That leaves the Big East with 13 basketball schools remaining and a handful of others (football schools) desperately trying to flee the sinking ship. Commissioner John Marinatto has said he is committed to holding Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the 27-month notice provision in the conference’s bylaws but one has to wonder if a financial settlement will be worked out in order to expedite the transition and move the conference into rebuilding mode. It’s going to be quite awkward if these three schools remain in the league until 2014. All of the current Big East members should eventually find a stable home in one form or another, but the days of Big East basketball as we know it will soon come to an end. Enjoy the 2011-12 season because it just might be the last year of this remarkable 16-team behemoth.
  • How Many Bids This Year?: After sending a record 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, can the Big East reach that mark again? That seems unlikely but you never know how things will truly play out. I’d say there are ten contenders for NCAA bids and to make 11 you would need all of those teams plus one of the three New York City-area schools to have a wildly successful year and snatch a bid. The Big East is quite possibly the best conference in the land yet again but 11 NCAA teams is far-fetched. Eight or nine bids this season would seem to be much more realistic.
  • Can Connecticut Repeat?: The technical answer is yes but it will be extremely tough to do. There’s a reason only two teams have gone back-to-back in the last 20 years. College basketball is as deep as ever in terms of talent and quality teams, plus there’s someone missing from last year’s Connecticut team. Kemba Walker is now in the NBA and, despite Jim Calhoun’s impressive recruiting haul, there is a major leadership void to be filled. This team is stocked with talent but Walker was a one-of-a-kind leader who took complete control in Maui and parlayed that into a way of life for the rest of the season. Jeremy Lamb figures to take control but remember how young this group is. They’ll get better as the season progresses and may even win the Big East but when the chips are down in the NCAA Tournament, they won’t be able to call on Kemba and that’s why I feel they will not repeat.

Calhoun Won't Have His Mr. Everything Around This Season

  • Cautious Optimism at Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia: These traditional powers lose a lot of talent and figure to be lodged in the middle of the conference. All three programs return key cogs but the departures of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Casey Mitchell, John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla leave more questions than answers. These teams all need someone to step up and become a deep shooting threat while maintaining a low post presence. Guards win in college basketball but you also have to be able to rebound and score inside occasionally. Hollis Thompson, Mouphtaou Yarou and Deniz Kilicli must become better all-around post men if their respective teams hope to make the NCAA Tournament. At 6’7”, 205 lbs., Thompson isn’t one to bang with the big guys but he’s going to have to score in the paint at times. Each team has a nice recruiting class coming in, but it’s up to the returning players to make the ultimate difference.
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The RTC Interview Series: One on One with Dave Telep

Posted by rtmsf on October 29th, 2010

Rush The Court is back with another edition of One on One: An Interview Series, which we will bring you periodically throughout the year. If you have any specific interview requests or want us to interview you, shoot us an email at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Scouting high school basketball players is a task that probably ranks just above weather prediction and winning trifectas at the track in terms of its certainty, but there are several folks out there who are among the best in the profession.  Dave Telep, former National Recruiting Director for Scout.com and current Senior Basketball Recruiting Analyst for ESPN, is one of those guys.  As a young college graduate in the mid-90s, he helped launch PrepStars before quickly rising up the ladder and developing his name at both Rivals and Scout, two of the pre-eminent recruiting services in existence today.  In the intervening decade, Telep built a sterling reputation for his workhorse approach to scouting, going from game to game in state after state to see players with his own eyes so as to fairly evaluate them.  He also founded Dave Telep’s Carolina Challenge in 2007, a one-day camp for 80 hand-picked North Carolina high school players in who want to learn what it takes to become a top college basketball player.  Some of the recruits who have attended this camp have been Duke’s Mason Plumlee and former Kentucky star John Wall.  The recruiting aficianado was in fact driving to a game in Virginia at the time of this interview — he never stops moving when there are players to be evaluated.  You can find Telep on both Facebook and Twitter — we’d recommend you friend/follow him to stay on top of all of the latest recruiting and scouting news.

Telep is a Scouting Mastermind

Rush the Court: Let’s start with the most newsworthy item in your life right now, the move from Scout.com to ESPN. Can you tell us a little bit about how this all came about and what the plan is for the immediate future there?

Dave Telep: Yeah, you know, I could not be more thankful and more grateful for the nine years I spent with Scout.com and Fox. My contract came up for renewal this summer and ESPN presented a really unique opportunity to do some things in the recruiting world on a bunch of different media platforms. It’s something where, to be honest, I’ve always wanted to work for ESPN. When I realized that I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete around the age of twelve, I realized one of the things I wanted to do with my life was to eventually work for ESPN. It’s really been a fun time for me and my family, and we’re having a great time with it. We have such a really neat team of guys there from the scouts to the guys who operate the database, that it’s really exciting to have so much support of a bunch of guys who are really woven into the fabric of college basketball. It’s awesome!

RTC: To many in this business, getting the call from ESPN is a dream come true. Is this the Dave Telep equivalent of seeing your name at the top of a recruiting list?

DT: The cool thing for me as the father of two boys is that I can someday look at those guys and say “if there’s something in your life that you really want to do, and you have the ability to, through hard work and luck and people helping you out, you can make that happen.” That’s been the neat thing for me with ESPN so far, just sharing and talking about it with my parents. You set these goals when you’re younger, and to see one of them come to fruition on a personal level is really cool. It’s not just a job for me. This is something I’ve always kinda had my eye on. I never knew what I would ever do at ESPN someday; I just knew that I always wanted to be around people who were excellent in their field. I knew from a young age that I would love to do that someday. This is definitely a dream come true for me.

RTC: Let’s move into some scouting questions.  Everyone has predictions from their career they’re proud of and a few they’re not quite as ready to shout from the hilltops. What are some of your most notable ones both ways?

DT: Great question. I was very excited the first time I saw Chris Paul, and I was happy to be one of the first people who spearheaded that charge. That worked out really well for me. You know, recently a couple of years ago we had DeJuan Blair in the top twenty, and the reason why I ranked Blair in the top twenty was because six or seven years before that I totally whiffed on Emeka Okafor by ranking him in the 80s. I was bound and determined that if a guy averaged as many rebounds as Blair did to not make the same mistake that we made with Okafor. I screwed up with Okafor but I’d like to think I learned something from it. Some others — I’ll never forget the day I saw Adam Morrison go for 30+ in a packed gym in Las Vegas, and I totally whiffed on that one. I learned a lot from the evaluation of Stephen Curry. I watched him all through high school. I evaluated him as a low-major player, a mid-major player, and at the end of his HS career, I rated him the highest level mid-major player possible. But if I could have stuck him into the top 100, that would probably be one of my bigger regrets in not doing so. My real job is to learn from all these mistakes and try to avoid them [in the future]. You see a situation like Emeka Okafor – he averaged 18-19 RPG in high school – that is a freaky number, to be frank. Then to see Blair come around and be that same kind of a rebounding force… they’re two different players, but although we screwed up Okafor it taught me a little more on the back end with Blair. When you see a guy with such a freakish skill set and such a knack for doing something extraordinary, your radar definitely goes up.

Telep Was Onto Chris Paul Before Anybody Else

RTC: You’ve talked in the past about ‘balancing potential with production’ when evaluating prospects. Which is harder – figuring out where a prospect can top out or figuring out where he will top out?

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Let’s Go Orange!!

Posted by rtmsf on October 20th, 2007

Ok, so the Cuse doesn’t know which end is up with respect to its next coach

Fine.

But at least they know how to bust a backboard on the break. Sweet sweet glass shards.

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10.19.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2007

More news and notes from a busy first week of practice.

  • Everyone is piling on Kelvin Sampson for his phone indiscretions.  AOL Fanhouse looks into the poor cell phone service excuse, while DeCourcy takes shots at IU’s compliance office.  One blogger wrote an open letter to Kelvin Sampson asking him to just go away.  Yesterday Sampson resisted talking about the issue at his press conference.
  • Speaking of Indiana coaches causing trouble, the NCAA instituted a point of emphasis this year on abusive behavior by coaches on the sideline.   M2M has the definitive take on this.
  • More IU-related content:  Bob Knight felt the need to talk about the MLB playoffs during his presser this week.
  • Basketball Prospectus is up and running (woohoo!) – the first post that captured our attention was this one on what makes an assist an assist?
  • MJ expects to watch his son sit the bench play at least once this year in Champaign.
  • On Monday it was official that Mike Hopkins would succeed Jim Boeheim at Syracuse upon his retirement; by Tuesday, it wasn’t official anymore.
  • So what really went down in practice between OJ Mayo and Daniel Hackett?  Was it an errant ‘bow or a flat-out haymaker to the schnozz?
  • One of the underrated coaches at an underrated program, Randy Bennett at St. Mary’s got a two-year extension (through 2013). 
  • Katz dissects the budding UCLA-USC rivalry, comparing it to UNC-Duke.  What he fails to mention is that SoCallers don’t care about college hoops nearly as much as the NCers.  That’s a Laker area, through and through.
  • Injuries, Suspensions, etc.
    • Is Brook Lopez planning on playing this year?  He’s already out for the first nine games – now he’s indefinitely suspended for breaking team rules, which means he can’t even practice. 
    • Wisconsin starter Michael Flowers is going on a leave of absence for the cryptic reason of “medical problems.” 
    • Notre Dame super-soph Luke Harongody will miss 3-6 weeks with damage to his thumb ligaments. 
    • Mizzou senior forward Darryl Butterfield was arrested for domestic assault and suspended indefinitely by the team.
    • Remember our pal Frank Tolbert?  The good state of Alabama did not agree with local prosecutors that Tolbert was drunk while stealing driving his SUV away from the towing lot.  He is not expected to miss any games.
    • A bunch of UK players are injured in various ways.  Oh, and Alex Legion isn’t hurt, but his mom is some kind of prophet.     
  • And more preseason chatter from various sources.
    • MSNBC has its preseason top 25 out (UNC #1).
    • Luke Winn spent the week slurping up whatever they’re selling in the RTP these days. 
    • Meanwhile, Jeff Goodman did a Tennessee three-step – Memphis, Vandy & UT
    • SEC:TGTBTD has it’s all-SEC teams ready – 3d Team, 2d Team, 1st Team (Chris Lofton, Jamont Gordon, Patrick Beverly, Richard Hendrix, Shan Foster).
    • Gary Parrish has his all-american teams + 10 ready (we like his balls to put Derrick Rose on the first team).   
    • Big 12 talk – apparently K-State is loading up on players, while KU is striking out on recruiting.  Yahoo asks if the Big 12 will ever win a title again, and oh yeah, Tom Osborne is the new AD at Nebraska.
    • Will Florida even make the NCAA Tourney this year?  Billy D. isn’t sure. 
    • Can UConn’s AJ Price stay away from the computer lab this year?  Jim Calhoun thinks he can. 
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05.15.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 15th, 2007

  • Jai Lucas signs with Florida; Patrick Patterson to follow tomorrow? 
  • We knew it!  Majerus will be living in a hotel this year at SLU. 
  • The Cuse’s next curmudgeonly coach will be…  Mike Hopkins
  • Fear not Cat fans: Tevye Anatevka is on the way.
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