Morning Five: 10.21.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 21st, 2014

morning5

  1. The NCAA’s next big fight appears to be drawing near after Chris Christie signed a sports gambling bill essentially legalizing it in New Jersey. That move would enable New Jersey to start offering sports gambling. One location, Monmouth Park, is reportedly looking to start offering it this coming weekend.  It should not come as a surprise that the NCAA and various professional leagues filed a lawsuit yesterday attempting to block such a move and will reportedly file for immediate injunctive relief today. At issue is the 22-year-old Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that barred sports gambling outside of a few select areas in the country. According to some state officials that decision should be up to the individual states and not the federal government (yes, the issue of “states’ rights” does come up outside of the Deep South). Our guess is that the injunction will be granted and this will be dragged out into a long and fairly messy affair.
  2. We have heard about so many investigation in college sports that we had almost forgot about the one involving Syracuse. Unfortunately for them, the NCAA has not and has invited school officials to attend a hearing later this month regarding the findings. While neither Jim Boeheim nor other school officials would speak to the case directly it appears to revolve around Fab Melo’s academic record and presumably others from around that same time period as well as an alleged sexual assault case in 2007. Given the way the NCAA operates (slapping schools on the wrist if at all and crushing student-athletes) we wouldn’t be surprised to see the school leave the investigation unscathed.
  3. On Thursday, ESPN released its Coaches Poll on Thursday and it should not come as much of a surprise that Kentucky came in at #1 followed by Arizona, Duke, Wisconsin, and Kansas. While the order of top five should not be surprising, Kentucky’s margin might be grabbing 24 of 32 first-place votes. As Mike DeCourcy notes despite all of Kentucky’s depth they do have some issues they will need to deal with including four particularly problematic ones. Some of the issues are clearly bigger than others ones, but we are sure Kentucky fans are aware the team will have to deal with these issues once the season starts and hopefully expectations are reasonable in Lexington. Well at least as reasonable as they can be there.
  4. Injuries at this time of year are always a concern, but Maryland might consider itself lucky that Evan Smotrycz will only be out for 4-6 weeks after fracturing the fifth metatarsal on his left foot. Smotrycz, who averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds per game last season, is expected to have surgery later this week.  Based on his estimated return to action he could miss as little as two games, but could potentially miss games against Arizona State, Iowa State, and Virginia if his recovery time is prolonged. Loyola might not be as fortunate as Milton Doyle, who lead the team in basically everything last year–scoring at 14.9 per game, assists at 3.6 per game, steals (38) and blocked shots (23) as a freshman–is out indefinitely with a torn labrum. Doyle, a Kansas transfer, will undergo five to six weeks of rehabilitation at which point he will be evaluated for the possibility of season-ending (7-9 month recovery) shoulder surgery. Southern Methodist doesn’t have an injury issue, but they do have an eligibility one with Markus Kennedy, who according to reports might not be academically eligible at the start of the season. The loss of Kennedy (12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game) would be another massive blow to the Mustangs, who are already dealing with greatly diminished expectations following the departure of Emmanuel Mudiay to China. Losing Kennedy would likely eliminate any hopes of the Mustangs making the NCAA Tournament this season.
  5. We have heard about players getting homesick after leaving high school, but apparently transfers can get homesick too very quickly (or at least it seems that way). Just a few months after transferring from Loyola Marymount to Marquette, Gabe Levin has decided to head back west as he is transferring to Long Beach State. Levin, who averaged 11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game as freshman last season was going to sit out this season as one of the rare transfers who did not have a waiver. Now with his transfer to Long Beach State we are assuming he will not have to sit out any additional time, but it does raise questions as to his reasons for leaving Marquette so quickly (saw the writing on the wall with the incoming recruiting haul?).

EXTRA: Make sure to check out rushthecourtTV on Youtube for video M5s as well as plenty of other coverage throughout the season. 

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Big 12 Weekly Five: 08.23.12 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on August 23rd, 2012

  1. Uh oh. The only true point guard on Oklahoma State’s roster, Cezar Guerrero, announced this week of his intention to transfer closer to home. His mother is sick in Los Angeles, so the decision is perfectly reasonable. However, the point guard position continues to plague Travis Ford. He lost two point guards to transfer last winter, and Keiton Page — already playing out of position there a year ago — graduated. Although that article actually claims the coaching staff may have wanted to play Guerrero off the ball in 2012-13, he was the only player on the roster with true point guard skills. Freshman Marcus Smart will probably have the ball in his hands a lot, and Markel Brown might get a chance to run the point too. But they’re a lot more effective as scorers, and it would have been a whole lot easier for Guerrero to take the reins and facilitate the offense. Now that he’s gone, it’s also important for Ford to get JuCo point guard Kirby Gardner cleared. He’s entirely unknown at this point and his signing came out of nowhere, but he does seem like more of a natural point.
  2. Make that seven freshmen now for Bill Self. Less than a month after the NCAA cleared Milton Doyle to play for Kansas, the freshman decided to leave the school before ever playing a game, which cuts a dent in Self’s abnormally-sized 2012 recruiting class. Although Self and Doyle’s mother, Lisa Green, both spoke in vague terms about his departure, it appears as though Doyle wanted to earn more minutes and make more of a major impact right away instead of waiting his turn. Neither Self nor Green spoke ill of each other, though, so it’s now time for Doyle to find another school — it’ll be his third already after originally committing to Florida International before the firing of Isiah Thomas. From the Jayhawks’ standpoint, they’re already loaded, especially after learning of top-100 freshman guard Rio Adams’ eligibility for 2012-13 earlier this month.
  3. We’ve written at length about Cameron Clark on this microsite, odd considering he’s never even averaged double figures in scoring during his first two years at Oklahoma. But we’ve written about him because his potential is so obvious to the naked eye, and he’s the type of sleeping giant that could take the Sooners to the next level in Lon Kruger’s second year. Everything about Clark screams “big-time scorer.” He’s got the size and wing skills at 6’6”, and he’s simply the kind of guy that has the ability to get the ball in the bucket on any given night. That consistency has not yet materialized, which is why we’re often writing about Clark’s potential as opposed to his actual production. With Wyoming transfer Amath M’Baye joining the team this year and the return of every key scorer from a year ago, there’s still not a ton of pressure solely on Clark. Still, his growth as a junior could be a critical piece of Kruger’s NCAA Tournament hopes.
  4. Poor Kansas State. Scheduling conflicts forced the Wildcats to return home early from their trip to Brazil, meaning its now back to reality after a vacation in South America. First-year coach Bruce Weber still got an early look at his new team, even if it wasn’t all that encouraging. Kansas State finished 2-2 on the trip, including a loss in which the referees ejected Weber from the game. It’s hardly the time to freak out about a few exhibition losses, but it’s at least encouraging that point guard Angel Rodriguez led the team in scoring on the trip. He was one of Frank Martin’s favorites last season, and he’ll likely earn that same sort of praise from Weber as long as he continues to progress.
  5. The legal process may have ended in the Darrell Williams rape case this summer, but the questions still linger about the former Oklahoma State forward. A jury convicted Williams based on the testimony of two women who said he groped them at a party, and he’ll now face serious prison time for the offense. As Mary Mitchell points out, though, prosecutors had no physical evidence to show the jury, and the identification was also troublesome because several other players had the same OSU warmup suit on at the party. The Huffington Post also called out the jury for convicting Williams, claiming 80 percent of errors in sexual assault cases happen because of misidentification. And there’s another aspect to this, too: “So let’s summarize. Williams, an honors student with an unblemished record, was convicted by a jury with no black people on it of an interracial crime that lacked independent witnesses or physical evidence and was based on a notoriously flawed method for identifying suspects.”
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Kansas Freshman’s Early Transfer Adds Another Layer of Drama to Offseason Transfer Craze

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 22nd, 2012

Christopher Johnson is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.

The volume of conversation on transfers and the culture surrounding the widespread practice has dominated this college basketball offseason. A rash of in-season moves first prompted the discussion, but a public transfer power struggle elevated the dialogue to national headlines. The heated April saga involving former Wisconsin guard Jared Uthoff and head coach Bo Ryan, in which Ryan was demonized for restricting Uthoff’s potential landing destinations and interrogated on America’s most popular national sports talk radio show, brought the issue to a head and seemed to pivot the axis of public opinion in favor of the player. Ryan was painted as an unrelenting tyrant with little concern for his player’s best wishes while the ultimate outcome – Uthoff ended up transferring to Iowa, his home state – was roundly cheered as a momentous victory for Uthoff. The topic gained more steam when SI.com’s Luke Winn penned an informative piece on the transfer epidemic that brought to light the recent rise in players jumping to better teams and conferences, what he calls “up-transfers.” Whereas most players typically switch schools to find more playing time,  better academic opportunity or a more favorable location, “up-transfers” move for competitive reasons in a bid to showcase their talents on a more prominent level. By Winn’s definition – up-transfers go “from a mid-major to a major”, “from a less-decorated major to a recent national champ,” or “from an off-the-map school to an elite mid-major” – there are 25 “up-transfers” with eligibility to play next season, several of whom could have conference and national championship implications.

The early departure of Doyle raises the question of whether the NCAA needs to impose tighter controls on transfer timing (Photo credit: Mike Yoder/KUsports.com).

The “up-transfer” distinction provided some qualitative clarity for the transfer trend. It also made absolute sense: With an increase in transfers that affect national brand-name programs, fans are bound to catch word of player movement in greater frequency. But it was only after laying eyes on this NCAA Q & A that the scope of college hoop transfers truly hit home. Among other interesting transfer-related queries, the interview revealed that “40 percent of men’s basketball student-athletes will not be competing at their original school by the end of their sophomore year.” That’s a startlingly high number. To no surprise, NCAA is looking into the matter: vice president of academic and membership affairs Kevin Lennon recently told ESPN’s Dana O’Neil that the NCAA is seeking ways to improve the transfer policy. There are several factors to consider here. The NCAA wants a system where players have ample opportunity to better their situations, whether for basketball purposes or an academic change of heart or some combination therein. The concern is that loose regulation will encourage players to switch schools and destabilize the coach-player relationship by enabling a quick get-away if players aren’t content with their current location. It’s a precarious balancing act that requires respecting players’ abilities to change schools – particularly as it applies to the undergraduate hardship waivers that allow players to change locations based on extenuating circumstances such as ill family members or financial distress – while preventing a borderless interschool infrastructure with little or no deterrence for transfers.

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Morning Five: 08.21.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 21st, 2012

  1. In one of the shortest collegiate careers that we’ve quite frankly ever seen, Kansas freshman Milton Doyle has already decided that he’s had enough in Lawrence. That’s right, Doyle, still some seven-plus weeks away from his first Midnight Madness, is transferring from KU due to — can you believe this? – a lack of playing time. Sure, Bill Self was diplomatic when he announced Doyle’s departure on Monday — he said, “[Doyle] thought it was better for him to go to a place where he had a better opportunity to impact a program early in his career” — but the 6’4″ guard played sparingly during the Jayhawks’ recent trip to Europe, and it was clear that he was going to spend much of his first season at KU sitting behind experienced players such as Elijah Johnson, Travis Releford and Naadir Thorpe in the rotation. Why this should be a problem for a player who was headed to FIU last spring before head coach Isiah Thomas was fired, we don’t know, but it’s painfully stark further evidence of the pervasive attitude of instant gratification that this generation of prep basketball players seems to carry as a birthright.
  2. From a freshman player who should have considered himself lucky to have an opportunity to wear a Kansas uniform to a pair of future freshmen who will no doubt very much enjoy their six months of the college experience in 2013-14, two of the top five players in the Class of 2013 — Aaron and Andrew Harrisonhave announced through Nick Jones at the Kentucky Kernel that they will announce their joint college choice on October 29. The date represents the day after the pair’s 18th birthday and presumably gives them plenty of time to take some visits in September and October among their five finalist schools — Baylor, Kentucky, Maryland, SMU, and Villanova. According to Adam Zagoria, the first three on that list are the schools contacting the twins most frequently (maybe they’re just picking up the phone for those caller IDs?).
  3. Mike DeCourcy checked in with Ben Howland just shy of UCLA’s Wednesday trip to China, and if summertime coachspeak is your thing, this detailed article will give you a very good sense as to how good the head coach thinks his team will be next season. It’s well worth the read for the information that you will glean on how Larry Drew II is handling point guard duties; whether Kyle Anderson can man the position if Drew falls through; the development of the Wear twins; the so-called best shooter at UCLA since Michael Roll; and, Shabazz Muhammad’s limitless motor. But the real jewel of the article is when Howland gives a frank assessment of the weight and conditioning status of center Joshua Smith — put simply, after nearly an entire offseason to get in shape, Smith is, according to his head coach, “the same.”
  4. The Lapchick Character Award’s 2012 recipients were announced on Monday with two of the most influential college basketball coaches in history honored along with one of the most revered in the women’s game (Cathy Rush) as well as the high school game (Morgan Wootten). CM Newton and Pete Newell both left their marks on college hoops in different ways, but few have questioned their character along with their contributions. California’s Newell was the one coach whom John Wooden had to get past to ultimately become John Wooden, and the legendary “big man” coach who retired at the absurd age of 44 is one of only three men to coach a team to an NIT title, an NCAA championship and an Olympic gold medal. Newton never cut the nets down as the head coach at Alabama or Vanderbilt, but his teams were always very good and he was instrumental in breaking the color barrier in SEC basketball both in terms of players (recruiting Wendell Hudson, the first African-American scholarship athlete at Alabama) and coaches (hiring Tubby Smith while acting as the athletic director at Kentucky). Both are deserving recipients, and they, along with Rush and Wootten, will be honored on November 15 in New York City during the 2kSports Classic.
  5. The UNC academic scandal took an ironic twist on Monday as transcript-outing victim Julius Peppers announced that he is donating $250,000 to North Carolina’s Light on the Hill Society Scholarship Fund in support of African-American students. Even when considering that this is his second contribution to the fund — he also donated $500,000 in 2009 — the timing here is certainly rich. When you consider that Peppers has earned tens of millions of dollars in his highly successful NFL career as a direct result of what may have been academic shenanigans to keep him eligible, his charity certainly seems like a wonderful return on the school’s investment. Furthermore, not even one week after the school made an egregious privacy error in throwing his academic chops to the wolves, Peppers still came through with the money. We’d probably suggest to the Martin Commission, given Peppers’ ongoing and convincing loyalty to the Tar Heel program, that they need not bother knocking on his door for additional dirt. You know, more than what his transcript already suggests.
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Big 12 Weekly Five: 07.26.2012 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on July 26th, 2012

  1. Rejoice! New Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said this week it’s unlikely the league will expand in the near future. Of course, in these testy times of the Realignment Apocalypse, words don’t mean a whole lot. For all we know, Notre Dame and Louisville have already signed contracts to join the league. These things change swiftly and without notice. But for now, we’ll take Bowlsby at his word. The Big 12 is a league with, uh, 10 teams, and it’s not changing any time soon. For basketball purposes, that at least preserves balanced scheduling and a true regular season champion, since every team will play home-and-homes with all other nine teams in the conference.
  2. Darrell Williams was never a household name during his short stint at Oklahoma State, but he is now after a jury convicted him of rape and sexual battery earlier this week. The conviction ends after more than a year of the legal process. Back in February 2011, head coach Travis Ford suspended Williams in light of allegations from two women that Williams had groped and violated them at a party (the incident in question happened in December 2010). The defense argued the two women could have misidentified Williams because there were several other players at the party wearing the same warmup gear, and it called the prosecution out for a lack of physical evidence. That didn’t convince the jury, though, and sentencing is now set for August. As the legal process dragged on, Williams seemed to become further and further detached from the Oklahoma State basketball program, but do not underestimate the effect of this conviction on the team. Consider this: Ford actually had to testify in this trial, and he testified in support of his former player. Several teammates were there when the jury read the verdict, too. This has to be a traumatizing outcome to some extent.
  3. In better news, Kansas learned freshman Milton Doyle will be eligible for the 2012-13 season. The 6’4” guard out of Chicago originally committed to play for native Chicagoan Isiah Thomas at Florida International, but Doyle opted for Bill Self’s program when Thomas was fired. According to ESPN, Thomas actually recommended Doyle to Self. Doyle was a bit under the radar as a recruit because he missed his entire junior year of high school with an injury, but he could eventually grow into a contributor given time. Thomas said Doyle’s so good, in fact, that he could have transformed FIU had he played there.
  4. Basketball season must be fairly close, because ESPN’s rolling out its Summer Shootaround series this month. On Tuesday, it unveiled a look at the Big 12 by breaking down each team’s best and worst-case scenario, ranking the top five storylines of the summer and previewing each team’s most important player. Wait a few months and we’ll do the exact same thing (in even more depth!), or follow our very own Summer Update series to keep up with the off-season nuggets. Still, ESPN provides an organized, this-is-what-you-need-to-know series of quick-hitters for you to get all caught up in the Big 12 Conference.
  5. As a part of that Big 12 coverage, Andy Katz spoke with Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg about his recruiting strategy and the state of his program. Hoiberg, who garnered a lot of attention after bringing in an unprecedented four Division I transfers a year ago, will once again welcome transfers Korie Lucious (Michigan State) and Will Clyburn (Utah) in their first seasons of eligibility. Unlike last year, though, Hoiberg will mix a few impressive freshmen with his veteran transfers. Hoiberg spoke highly of hyper-athletic forward Georges Niang, for example. But the most interesting comment came at the end of Katz’ article: “We had great chemistry together and it showed later in the year. That being said, we want freshmen in this program. We have an enthusiastic group and we’ve got great kids and players in this program for the next four years.” So there you have it. Fred Hoiberg’s a traditional recruiter who saw an opportunity to take transfers and went for it. Nothing wrong with that, we supposed. It worked, after all.
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