RTC Region by Region Tidbits: 03.16.10

Posted by rtmsf on March 17th, 2010

Each day this week during the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament we’re asking some of our top correspondents to put together a collection of notes and interesting tidbits about each region.  If you know of something that we should include in tomorrow’s submission, hit us up at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

South Region Notes (Patrick Sellars)

  • The first “upset” of the tournament occurred in the South Region when SWAC champion Arkansas Pine-Bluff took down the Big South tournament champion Winthrop, 61-44. The Golden Lions earned the right to play top seeded Duke on Friday night.
  • When #9 Louisville takes on #8 California on Friday night, Louisville head coach Rick Pitino says he’ll be ready for the Bears’ “organized chaos.”  There is also an interesting quote in the article from Cardinals’ guard Edgar Sosa that says he has heard Cal referred to as “poor man’s Marquette”.
  • Utah State’s leading scorer, junior guard Tai Wesley, broke his nose in the WAC tournament final on Saturday when the Aggies got pounded by New Mexico State.  He will play in the Aggies’ upcoming game versus Texas A&M, but you have to wonder what kind of effect it will have on USU’s star. On TAMU’s side, they will have Dash Harris back in the lineup after he missed the Big 12 Tournament with a bone bruise in his right wrist. Head coach Mark Turgeon said that if his team wants any chance to win this weekend, they will need Harris healthy.
  • Fran McCaffery is not letting his Siena team think they can beat Purdue by just showing up in Spokane on Friday. He says Purdue is by far the best team Siena will face all season even without Robbie Hummel. You’d have to think a Butler Bulldogs fan would think otherwise.
  • Here is an interesting article from The Times-Picayune which highlights the #3 Baylor vs. #14 Sam Houston State game. Not only are the two teams from Texas, but they have two New Orleans natives returning to their home town for the first round. Star senior guards Tweety Carter (Baylor) and Ashton Mitchell (Sam Houston State) both played their high school ball in The Big Easy.
  • Villanova head coach Jay Wright told the Philadelphia Inquirer about his team’s lackluster play in first round games the past two seasons. Wright said “we’ve survived first-round games, but we really haven’t played well in first-round games.”

East Region Notes (Ryan Restivo of SienaSaintsBlog)

Read the rest of this entry »

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The Harassment of Billy Gillispie by that Coward the NABC

Posted by rtmsf on September 30th, 2008

For the second time since last spring’s Mario Miracle, the NABC has put out a statement that squarely fixes its crosshairs on Kentucky’s second-year coach, Billy Gillispie.  Certainly you remember the June directive the NABC made to stop recruiting junior high players in the wake of the media firestorm over Gillispie’s recruiting of 8th grader Michael Avery.  We wrote at the time:

Luckily, this may be a situation where coaches were doing it because they felt they needed to avoid a competitive disadvantage.  Now that the NABC has effectively disavowed this as a strategy (although it is still legal), coaches [including Gillispie] appear to be supportive of the line-drawing.

(Ed Note:  apparently another Billy, as in Billy Donovan, didn’t get that memo from the NABC.)Andy Katz now reports on his blog today that the NABC put forth a new statement yesterday that admonishes coaches for using their early autumn ‘skill development’ time (2 hours/week) prior to full practices for recruiting purposes.  More specifically, they don’t want schools to bump up their Midnight Madness festivities to a preceding weekend so as to take advantage of a more favorable recruiting scenario (i.e., big football game on campus, local stripper convention, the fact that nobody else is having Midnight Madness that weekend).  Why is this important now?  Because Kentucky and Illinois (with its gimmicky outdoor practice) are planning on having their Midnight Madnesses a week prior to the ‘official’ start of practice.  The NABC statement (via Katz):

The NABC board of directors said that “skill development events should not be open to the public.” The NABC said the initial intent was for coaches to assist their players in skill development and create stronger relationships. But by “making such skill development sessions public events, they appear to be geared more for recruiting than skill development sessions.”

Coach Gillispie, godlovehim, just cannot resist pushing the envelope when it comes to the NCAA rulebook.  We’re not saying that he’s breaking any rules – hell, we’re not even saying that he’s bending them – but like any fastidious attorney, he manages to consistently find the gray nether-regions where legislative intent meets bright-line rule, and he forces those in charge to make decisions.

Bring It On, NABC!  (photo credit: AP/Ed Reinke)

Our take on these early Midnight Madness celebrations is such: we tend to like orderliness when it comes to college hoops, as in…  we’d like to know with assurance when Opening Night will be or when the Final Four will be.  So we’re 100% in agreement with the NABC on this one – can’t we just all agree to have Midnight Madness on the same night, and preferably, AT MIDNIGHT?  If the NCAA has to mandate this, so be it – add another page to the 17-lb rulebook.   

Update (10/1): Jeff Goodman weighs in with this background information about the NABC:

Word is that there were numerous coaches on a conference call who were less than thrilled with Gillispie’s decision. They feel that the NCAA allows the coaches the two hours per week for skill development and Gillispie is taking advantage of the rule.  It was the unanimous decision of the Board that skill development events should not be open to the public.

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A Smidge of Sanity in the Recruiting World?

Posted by rtmsf on June 20th, 2008

We wanted to reflect on this before it got too stale.  Wednesday the NABC strongly recommended that the growing practice of college coaches targeting middle-school kids as prospects unconditionally end.  This is in light of the uproar that ensued in May when uber-recruiter Billy Gillispie at Kentucky received a verbal commitment from Michael Avery, a 6’4 eighth-grader from southern California who had not yet even picked a high school, much less a college.

Will This Kid Be Any Good in Four Years?

Gillispie took the brunt of the criticism in the national media, but he wasn’t the first or only coach who was using this questionable (but legal) strategy to ‘lock up’ young players who arguably have no idea what the concept of going to college means yet.  Anong others, Tim Floyd at USC and Bruce Weber (two mentions in one day!!) at Illinois have also made use of this practice.  The NABC, ironically led by Tubby Smith (the former UK coach who withstood increasingly harsh criticism, some legit, some not, based on his recruiting while in Lexington), asked all college coaches to hold off on offering scholarships or accepting commitments from prospects until mid-June after their sophomore year in high school, stating that younger players:

[They] have not yet displayed sufficient academic credentials or, in the vast majority of cases, basketball maturity to accurately project them as admissible students to the institution or impact players on the basketball team. [...] The academic and athletic profiles of these younger students are still very much works in progress. Coaches and athletes need to respect the process and allow development to occur in both areas prior to making commitments.

Already Committed to Maryland

While I often agree with and respect the reasoned discourse made by the esteemed Truzenzuzex at A Sea of Blue, the Kentucky blog of record as far as we’re concerned, we never could quite get over the smell test on this one.  Notwithstanding the arguments of caveat emptor and the lack of any enforceability of such early commitments, this whole situation just had a backroom feel of predatory extortion, an awkward taking advantage of kids (and parents) who may not know any better.  We view it as not dissimilar to the equally distasteful Sonny Vaccaro-bred fast-tracking of certain kids to certain schools based on implicit promises and subsequent shoe company representation.

Luckily, this may be a situation where coaches were doing it because they felt they needed to avoid a competitive disadvantage.  Now that the NABC has effectively disavowed this as a strategy (although it is still legal), coaches appear to be supportive of the line-drawing.  Billy Gillispie stated today:

I fully support anything the coaches’ leadership and governing body thinks is best for college basketball and high school-age basketball players.  It’s not like you’re not going to go out and evaluate young players. They’ve just strongly encouraged us not to seek a commitment, offer a scholarship, those kinds of things, which we definitely will adhere to.

What will be an interesting test of a coach shadiness factor (yeah you, Huggins, and you too, Gary) is to see who obliges the NABC with this directive to avoid recruiting the youngsters.  Nevertheless, we think this is ultimately a move in the right direction.

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