Morning Five: Veteran’s Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on November 11th, 2011

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  1. Happy Veteran’s Day, everyone. If you have a family member, friend or acquaintance who has given their time and energy during their lives to help this nation stay safe, shake their hand or give them a pat on the back — trust us, they’ll appreciate it. This year’s Veteran’s Day has a particularly deep meaning for our purposes, as it also doubles as the official ‘unofficial’ opening night of the college basketball season. Several teams have already gotten under way in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, but most everyone else begins this weekend. One hundred thirty-one games dot the schedule this evening, including 19 of the RTC Top 25 teams in America. The headliner game on this holiday is that curious little aircraft carrier game down in San Diego involving the consensus #1 team, North Carolina, and a perplexing but always-dangerous Michigan State squad. But there are several other noteworthy games tonight, including a talented Belmont squad visiting Duke at 9 PM on ESPNU and a rising Oregon team visiting a Vanderbilt program harboring massive expectations in Nashville. For a complete list of view-worthy games, be sure to click on our Nightly Nonsense tab above here, and check back this afternoon for our weekend version of Set Your TiVo, which will outline all the interesting games for the next three days.  As of tonight, we can say it without qualifying language — college hoops is back, baby…
  2. And what about that game on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson? The temperature will be in the mid-60s and winds are expected to be in the 10-15 MPH range this evening in San Diego, but the one thing everyone seems to be forgetting about the players is that every one of them has played outdoor pickup ball at one time or another. Sure, it’s not the same as playing in the controlled environment of a gym, but who hasn’t experienced the unique situation of having to slightly adjust your jumper to account for the breeze? Many of these players probably developed their games on the playgrounds across America. The players will probably be more jittery because President Obama will be there rather than dealing with the sun and wind.
  3. The NBA could be on the verge of a return with a 72-game season, or none at all, but if you’re at all interested in reading about the 2011-12 college basketball season as written for NBA fans, Kevin Pelton at Basketball Prospectus is your man. It’s an intriguing look at the collegiate game in that the perspective changes when one’s only use for NCAA hoops is as a finishing school before the big time. While we’re on the subject of the pros, the current deal offered by the owners to the players has not yet addressed the ‘ancillary’ issue of a minimum draft age. We wonder that if the players cave here on the revenue split whether that will embolden them to ask for and receive concessions with respect to the draft age (among other things). From the perspective that a two-year minimum is better for the game of college basketball, it might actually be better in the long run if the players refuse the owners’ latest offer.
  4. Miami’s DeQuan Jones has been suspended by the university for the entire 2011-12 season as a result of his alleged involvement with improprieties relating to his recruitment by Frank Haith, as uncovered by Yahoo! Sports during the Nevin Shapiro scandal. Shapiro stated in interviews that Haith arranged for $10,000 to be paid to Jones’ family to secure his commitment in 2008. Given that the Hurricanes could potentially lose a number of wins if Jim Larranaga now played Jones and it was later determined that he was an ineligible player, this is a smart move. Still, it doesn’t help with the Hurricanes’ current glaring lack of depth, as UM will now have only seven scholarship players available heading into tonight’s opening game against Tennessee Tech.
  5. Finally, it’s time for the SI Crystal Ball, where Seth Davis, Luke Winn and Andy Glockner make their preseason picks on the 2011-12 Final Four, NPOY, surprise team, flops, and so on. Would you believe that the only category of consensus among the trio came when picking their Best Mid-Major team? We’ll give you three guesses to see if you can get it right… As always, it’s a good read, but even the best in the business (as these guys are) are lucky to bat just above the Mendoza line with their predictions — in last year’s Crystal Ball, for example, the three picked a grand total of zero Final Four teams (including darkhorses). College basketball prognostication is more art than science, we’ll readily admit, but we’re totally on board with Davis and Glockner’s darkhorse team this season (hint: it starts with an “X”).
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20 Questions: Who is the Best Defensive Player in College Basketball?

Posted by dnspewak on November 1st, 2011

Danny Spewak is the RTC correspondent for the Sun Belt Conference and a Big 12 microsite staffer.  

Question: Who is the Best Defensive Player in College Basketball?

Measuring the top defender is a near-impossible task in almost every sport. Offensively, you’re golden once you take a few glances at the right statistics. The top quarterbacks in the NFL throw the most touchdowns and complete the most passes; the top players in college basketball score the most points and make the most shots; and the top hitters in baseball collect the most hits and drive in the most runs. It’s a a very simplistic way to look at the world, of course. But it’s true. Arguing who the best offensive players are in every sport, including college basketball, are easy, straightforward discussions.

But defense? That’s a whole other story. Do you measure the top defenders by blocks? Steals? Or is it deflections, opponent’s field goal percentage or some other hidden statistic only understood by sabermaticians?

The point is, selecting the nation’s top defender is a subjective task based on a variety of criteria. Most of all, it’s based on the individual impressions we form of players as we watch them compete, whether live or on television. For example, the statistics showed that Jimmer Fredette led the NCAA in scoring last season and shot 40 percent from behind the arc. But Old Dominion’s Kent Bazemore won the Defensive Player of the Year award but did not even finish in the top 15 nationally in steals per game.

Taylor Draws the Toughest Assignment Each and Every Night

ODU’s Bazemore is certainly a candidate for this honor again, but we’re going to go in a different direction here. Our choice for the best defensive player in the country is Vanderbilt’s Jeffery Taylor, a 6’7” forward with a multitude of assets on both ends of the floor. In his three years at Vandy, Taylor has gotten the opportunity to shut down players as varied as Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks, South Carolina’s Bruce Ellington, North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, Missouri’s Kim English, and many others. He has proven that he won’t back down from any defensive challenge, and he’s got the strength and versatility to match up with any collegiate position Kevin Stallings needs covered.

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Inside The Mack (And the Two Other Biggest OOC Arenas Pac-12 Teams Will Visit)

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 28th, 2011

The road is a difficult place. It’s foreign, it’s hostile, and it can just be plain annoying. It’s where seasons and teams can fall apart (See Oregon State @ Illinois-Chicago two years ago) or, it’s a place where teams can come together and start a great run. Let’s take a look at the three biggest non-conference arenas that Pac-12 teams will play in this year.

1. Thomas & Mack Center

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Capacity: 18,776
Pac-12 Games: California @ UNLV (Dec. 23)

It’s hard to imagine a time when UNLV played its home games in the 6,000 seat Las Vegas Convention Center, but 23 years ago, that was indeed the case. Now Rebel Nation flocks to “The Mack,” an 18,000+ seat basketball jewel that also hosts the NBA Vegas Summer League every year (well, not this year). Pac-10 (Not counting Colorado and Utah) teams are 4-5 against UNLV in The Mack since 2002, but considering UNLV doesn’t play top-notch basketball every single year, that is a pretty good mark. This year they will welcome the Golden Bears into their house, which is sure to be sold out whenever a power conference team ventures in.

A white out at the Thomas & Mack Center, which looks like an NBA arena more than ever in this picture. (credit: unlvrebels.com)

California doesn’t like to play on the road when they do not have to, as their only road non-conference games last year were either scheduled by the conference or a tournament committee. They went 1-1 in those two games, defeating Iowa State in the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Challenge, and falling to Colorado in the NIT. A win at UNLV would mean a lot more to Mike Montgomery’s team this year, as a late-December road victory would surely put the Bears into the Top 20 going into conference play.

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Pac-12 Team Previews: Washington

Posted by Connor Pelton on October 25th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

Washington Huskies

Strengths.  The main thing that jumps off the page is the Huskies’ talent and depth at guard. In order to get all of the talent on the floor at the same time, Lorenzo Romar could go with the rarely used four-guard lineup since both Tony Wroten, Jr., and Terrence Ross have the size to play down low. Watch out for the other freshmen as well. Romar has a stellar recruiting class coming in, led by the aforementioned Wroten Jr., guard Hakeem Stewart, and forward Martin Breunig. All three appeared on the Rivals150 list, while Wroten was considered the fourth-ranked point guard and No. 14 overall player in the country for the class of 2011.

Weaknesses.  In the past six years, the Huskies have always had some sort of leader or go-to guy to build the team around. They don’t have a “set” leader going into this season, so that will be a huge thing to work out in preseason practice. They also need to find a go-to scorer that they can count on late in games as they lose their top three scorers from last season (Isaiah Thomas, Matthew Bryan-Amaning, and Justin Holiday).

Terrence Ross Could be the Key to UW's Season

Nonconference Tests.  The Huskies should fly through their non-conference slate with the exception of two games: Dec. 6 vs Marquette and Dec. 10 vs Duke. There is no break in between for Washington, as they will just stay in the Big Apple for six days and take on a pair of top twenty teams. I’m predicting an 0-2 record in those, but if they can even earn just a split, the Huskies will start to receive national attention.
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Morning Five: 07.11.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 11th, 2011

  1. In a somewhat shocking turn of events at the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in Latvia, Team USA lost 79-74 Friday to Russia in a quarterfinal game where the Yanks simply could not throw the ball in the ocean from outside the arc (0-9).  Nor, apparently, could they defend it, as Russia dropped 12 threes on its end, making it virtually impossible for a team lacking much of an inside presence to win the game.  The American team regrouped to throttle Poland on Saturday before finishing the tournament by beating Australia, 78-77, Sunday to take the fifth place trophy (USA’s worst showing since 2003, also a fifth place finish).  Connecticut’s Jeremy Lamb was the undisputed leader of this team, averaging 16/4 in taking 53 more shots than anyone else on the team, but the surprise of the squad may have been Creighton’s Doug McDermott, the 2010-11 MVC ROY but someone that most national fans haven’t yet heard of.  The rising sophomore went for averages of 11/6 in the tournament and proved the only player on the roster capable of reliably hitting threes (39.3%) — keep an eye out for this future March Madness hero in coming seasons.
  2. So what happened to cause a disappointing fifth place finish (Team USA was expected to win gold or silver) in Latvia this year?  Luke Winn writes that the hordes of A-list stars who opted to stay stateside this summer — from UNC’s Harrison Barnes to Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger — had an obvious impact; but he also mentions some of the chatter from NBA GMs and scouts who openly suggested that some of the players didn’t take the competition seriously enough.  Whether this is yet another indictment of the infernal AAU system in America, or simply a matter of players foolishly failing to recognize that the rest of the world can play too, we’re not sure.  But the fact remains that USA Basketball is nowhere near as fearsome of an entity as it once was — especially at the younger levels.
  3. We always talk about ranking the programs on the measure of how well they put players into the NBA, but that doesn’t always give us the entire picture.  For example, a school might have ten players in the League, but they may all ride the pine.  Another school might have half that many total players, but three or four of those could be All-Stars.  Dollars for Ballers took a stab at this problem by considering player salaries.  While @SportsGuy33 persuasively argues that NBA salaries are not always commensurate with talent and productivity (hello, Rashard Lewis!), it’s a better proxy than none at all.  So given this, would you believe that Michigan State’s five players — Jason Richardson, Zach Randolph, Morris Peterson, Shannon Brown, and Charlie Bell — had the highest salary average at $7.76M than any other school with at least three players?  Duke, with its 13 total pros, many of whom have been around for a while, collected nearly $90M in salaries last season.  Really, the only way to do this kind of analysis accurately is to tie programs to individual and team outcomes, but this is a decent start.
  4. Some players get tattoos and carve messages into their hair to rep for their families; incoming Kentucky freshman Michael Gilchrist decided to change his name.  According to his tweet on Friday afternoon, one of the best freshmen in the country has officially changed his name to Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.  He chose to add Kidd to his existing surname to honor his deceased uncle, Darrin Kidd, a mentor who suffered a fatal heart attack on the same day MKG signed his letter of intent last year; and, of course, his father, Michael Gilchrist, Sr., was shot and killed fifteen years ago.
  5. On a sad note, former TCU head coach Neil Dougherty died last Tuesday during a jog in Indianapolis.  He wasn’t carrying identification and is not a local resident — he was in town as part of his current job with iHoops, an NBA/NCAA joint initiative — so after passing during the run, his body was kept as a “John Doe” until last Friday when his identity was revealed.  Dougherty was a long-time assistant throughout the 80s and 90s, most notably at his home-state school of Kansas under Roy Williams, and his age of only 50 years has many folks in Lawrence and Fort Worth shaking their heads.  He leaves a wife, Patti, and three children.  RIP, Coach Dougherty.
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Who’s Got Next? National Champions, All-Americans and More…

Posted by Josh Paunil on May 24th, 2011

Who’s Got Next? is a bi-weekly column by Josh Paunil, the RTC recruiting guru. We encourage you to check out his website dedicated solely to college basketball recruiting, National Recruiting Spotlight, for more detailed recruiting information. Twice a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to who the hot prospects are in the lower levels of the sport. If you have any suggestions as to areas we’re missing, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Introduction

The stars were out to shine last weekend as the iS8/Nike Spring Classic wrapped up with national champions and all-americans garnering first and second team honors. The closing of a notable New York school that produced an NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player, and a star junior naming his final four schools are among the other headlines dominating the world of college basketball recruiting that we will explore in this edition of Who’s Got Next? Oh yeah, there’s also the DeAndre Daniels saga which continues to drag on…

What They’re Saying

Class of 2012 shooting guard Ricardo Ledo (#9) speaks out about his list.

  • Junior Ricardo Ledo (#9) on his list of schools: “I am looking at Kentucky, Providence, Syracuse and UConn.”
  • Senior Josiah Turner (#13) on how good he thinks Arizona will be next year: “I think we’re going to be pretty good, Sidiki [Johnson]‘s coming in. He’s a big man. He’s a beast, so I think we’ll still be pretty good.”
  • Junior Archie Goodwin (#19) on his favorite basketball memory: “My greatest basketball moment would’ve been helping my team win an AAU national title last summer in Orlando. We had to go through a lot of hard times to get to that point. We had to win nine games in a row.”
  • Senior D’Angelo Harrison (#47) on playing with his future teammates at St. John’s: “It was quite funny playing with them. We have a pretty good bond now and it makes it so much easier playing with them in the future.”
  • Sophomore Isaiah Lewis on his favorite memory: “My most memorable basketball moment would’ve been making the all-tournament team at the City of Palms. As a sophomore that was a big accomplishment for me.”
  • Senior Quincy Miller (#7) on his favorite basketball memory: “My greatest basketball moment would’ve been when I hit the game-winning three in the 18U championship game against Brazil last summer.”
  • Junior Shabazz Muhammad (#3) on his favorite basketball memory: “My best basketball moment would’ve been winning back-to-back state titles my freshman and sophomore years. That was a great run we had.”
  • Senior Nemanja Djurisic on his favorite part of the recruiting process: “Meeting people that have been in basketball for a long time and learning something new from interacting with them was great.”

What We Learned

The DeAndre Daniels Situation. Since last Wednesday, Duke, Kansas, Oregon and Texas fans have been in limbo wondering if Class of 2011 small forward DeAndre Daniels will choose their favorite school and what that means for the future of their team… but the catch is that he might not choose any of those options. The top unsigned prospect remaining has more choices than people think and can drag out this decision all summer or to when the NBA agrees upon a new Collective Bargaining Agreement if he wants to skip college and hope the one-and-done rule is eliminated. Since Daniels has remained undecided past the spring signing period, he can only sign a financial-aid agreement at this point, not a letter of intent. If a financial-aid agreement is signed, it only binds the school to the player but not the player to the school. Because of the flexibility in this type of arrangement, Daniels could stay unsigned until a few weeks into next school year. If he chooses to go this route (which many people believe he will), then the two main players in his decision will be Kansas and Texas, although he has also expressed interest in Duke and Oregon. It has been speculated that Daniels is a heavy lean to one of the Big 12 schools, but that his father, LaRon Daniels, wants him to go to another school. Daniels also has the options of going into the NBA D-League or playing overseas, but both of these options are highly unlikely. It’s also been rumored that he’s waiting to announce his decision at the Pangos All-American camp, which takes place from June 3-5. The bottom line in this whole situation is that Daniels has so many routes he can take and multiple months to decide which way  he wants to go. Also, considering how reluctant Daniels and his father have been in talking to the media, the only thing that’s certain in the ongoing recruitment of DeAndre Daniels is that nothing is certain.

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The RTC Interview Series: One on One With Arthur Agee

Posted by rtmsf on September 3rd, 2010

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

Arthur Agee is one of the inimitable names in basketball circles for his excruciatingly real portrayal of a hotshot recruit with dreams of the NBA in one of the greatest documentaries of all-time, Hoop Dreams.  The movie tracked Agee and his Chicago compatriot, William Gates, as they moved through the shady underworld of high school basketball star-making and college basketball recruiting in the late 1980s and early 1990s.  Agee, the player who seemed more likely to end up on the wrong path as a result of his tough home life, ended up winning the Chicago Public League championship in 1991 and attending Arkansas State on scholarship.  While he nor Gates never made it to the NBA, they both have found meaning through their experiences captured on film to pass on their lessons to youngsters in the community: Gates as a pastor, and Agee as a motivational speaker who travels around the country inspiring students to follow their “hoop dreams” in all walks of life.  Agee was kind enough to speak with us last week.

Rush The Court: Arthur, talk to us a little bit about what you’re doing these days with your foundation (Arthur Agee Foundation) and your upcoming Hoop Dreams Tour (@HoopDreams2010 on Twitter) in October.

Arthur Agee: My Arthur Agee role model foundation involves me speaking and doing motivational things for kids.  The tour coming up with Mike Brown at Hoop Connection will have us traveling around from city to city [scheduled cities: Chicago, Orlando, Dallas, Sacramento] in October to help young athletes in those places pursue their hoop dreams.  We’ll be picking one person in each of those places to tell his or her story about their struggle and try to help them achieve their hoop dream — whether it’s a scholarship to college, a job in coaching or whatever else.  Our hope is that a reality televison show will pick it up and air what happens while we’re on this tour.

Agee Reached his Athletic Pinnacle at Marshall, But Much More Was on the Way

RTC: It’s amazing that this low-budget independent movie still has so much resonance over fifteen years later.  We hear from basketball fans regularly that it’s their favorite movie of all-time.  Can you discuss how you’re trying to use the opportunities it is still providing for you now?

AA: Well, realize that my family didn’t see any money from “Hoop Dreams” the movie.  Maybe $150,000 to $200,000.  The filmmakers saw it as a stepping stone project for themselves, but often times we were forgotten about.  That said, they have authorized me to use the name Hoop Dreams to brand it.  A consultant we talked to says there might be about $4 million left in it, so we got permission from the filmmakers to start a full clothing line — sneakers, hats, and so on.  So that’s the business challenge that I’m currently facing with it — branding Hoop Dreams and making it profitable.

RTC: What about the movie itself?  What has changed from those days and what life lessons can you give to young people today as a result of your experiences?

AA: Well, the basketball landscape has changed.  From the mid-90s until a few years ago, you could jump straight to the NBA from high school.  But the statistics on actually making it to the pros is really small.  Kids should be thinking about the primary goal to get a scholarship to college, and let the rest take care of itself.  I use a phrase, “Education is a necessity… basketball is a privilege,” and it’s true.  In the movie we did a couple of years ago, “Hoop Reality,” which was a fifteen-year follow-up to “Hoop Dreams,” I helped Patrick Beverley achieve his hoop dream.  We focused on him in the movie, and he eventually went to Arkansas on a scholarship and just recently signed a $1.5 million deal with the Miami Heat.  At Arkansas State, I had to do everything on my own to get noticed, and some agents came to me because of the movie, but that was about it.

Many of the Lessons From 20 Years Ago Are the Same

RTC: How is your relationship with co-star William Gates [a minister in the Chicago area now] from the movie?

AA: Will is great, and I keep up with him quite a bit. You have to keep in mind, though, that William Gates in the movie was still a lot better player than a lot of people with two good knees.  His son, Will Jr., is sixteen now [Class of 2013] and at St. Joseph’s just like we were.  Still with Coach [Gene] Pingatore!  I’d tell him what I’d tell anybody with a hoop dream — live your hoop dreams and control your own destiny, which means to go hard after whatever you want and don’t let anybody else get in your way.

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Morning Five: 08.12.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 12th, 2010

  1. Nothing is ever easy with this guy, who now may hold the honor for the longest short consultancy in the history of professional basketball.  Isiah Thomas announced on Wednesday that he would rescind his new contract with the New York Knicks, largely to avoid the conflict of interest inherent in coaching collegiate players while working for an NBA franchise.  Getting bored yet, Isiah?
  2. You may not be able to see LeBron James there anymore on a regular basis, but you can still see the MAC Tournament at Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena.  The league announced yesterday that the tourney will be held there through 2017.  MAC faithful are no strangers to the venue, as the league has already held its marquee event there since 2000.  For a look at how the MAC looks heading into the 2010-11 season, check out our Summer School post on the league from this week.
  3. The UNC reclamation project began last night in Nassau, Bahamas, as Roy Williams’ team played its first of a two-game set in the Caribbean paradise.  The early return on #1 recruit Harrison Barnes — 21/8 on 8-15 shooting in 29 minutes of action.  He also fouled out of the game, so that’s something to watch in the coming months.
  4. Former Arkansas star Scotty Thurman joins his fellow Hawg All-American Corliss Williamson in taking up the coaching reins this summer.  Thurman is joining John Pelphrey’s staff at Arkansas just months after Williamson became the spanking-new head coach at Central Arkansas.  If either of those  nascent coaches can instill the all-out effort and tenacity in their kids that they both played with as Razorbacks, expect both to be very successful in this next step of their careers.
  5. Kansas State’s Frank Martin got philosophical yesterday during a motivational speech for Wichita-area teachers when talking about whether kids have changed from previous generations.  His essential take:  kids haven’t changed, but the expectations from adults for them has.  Check out the entire clip below…
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Morning Five: 08.09.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on August 9th, 2010

  1. Jim Calhoun has to appreciate the support shown by many of his former players as the cloud of an NCAA investigation looms over Storrs, support that was evident on Saturday as many of his UConn family showed up to play in a benefit game for the Jim and Pat Calhoun Cardiology Center.  Heck, we’d pay $20 to watch Ray Allen, Emeka Okafor, Caron Butler and Rudy Gay in an alumni game, especially for a good cause.  The word “family” above is not used lightly, as Butler can attest to in speaking about his coach: “I’ll just sum it up like this.  He’s the closest thing to a father that I’ve ever had.”
  2. It just won’t go away.  Karen Sypher says her trial was unfair because Louisville is a small enough town to feel the influence of Louisville coach Rick Pitino.  “I know now there is no justice system,” she told the AP.  And she also says that there was evidence in her favor that her defense attorney didn’t use, and that it will come out later.  Sypher will be sentenced on October 27th.  We’re fine with Pitino facing no disciplinary action from U of L, since this is a family matter more than anything else, but we’re still evaluating AD Tom Jurich’s statement calling his coach a “grand ambassador” of the program…
  3. SI’s Luke Winn gave us stat nerds the warm-and-fuzzies when he broke out some serious numbers to predict some possible breakout players in the sophomore class for 2010-11 (a taste — Nebraska’s Christian Standhardinger makes the list).  His 2008 version yielded eerily accurate results to the point where we have our current crop of RTC interns investigating if there are some prop bets in Vegas on this topic.  And Luke, if you’re reading…yes, we’ll give you a cut.
  4. Seton Hall announced on Friday that Ole Miss guard Eniel Polynice will be joining the Pirates as a transfer student next season.  Polynice will not have to sit out the typical year for transfers, taking advantage of an NCAA rule that allows early graduates to play their fourth season of eligibility elsewhere if their current school doesn’t offer postgraduate work in their field of study.  Polynice, a communications major who graduated in the spring from Ole Miss, sat out the 2008-09 season as a redshirt student.  He is a very nice late summer pickup for new Hall head coach Kevin Willard, who will need some experienced players to keep uber-gunner Jeremy Hazell under control and tutor a deep incoming class of freshmen.
  5. If we were the president of Florida International University (and just to be clear, we’re not), we’d immediately call head coach Isiah Thomas into our office for a sitdown about a little something called focus.  Coming off a 7-25 season that finished on the high note of nine straight losses, you would think that if Thomas were fully committed to his current job, he wouldn’t be taking on part-time work as a paid consultant for the NBA team he helped destroy, the New York Knicks   The Miami media, to put it lightly, is not amused.
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Morning Five: 06.14.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 14th, 2010

  1. Tom Izzo update — shockingly, the Michigan State coach is still considering the Cleveland Cavaliers job, but a report that surfaced late Sunday night stated that LeBron James would be behind the Izzo hiring.  What’s less clear is whether that means James would support the hire as a member of the Cavs or as a member of some other team, a key distinction surely not lost on Izzo in trying to make his decision.  Honestly, the only way that this move makes sense for Izzo is if he can rest assured that he’ll have the opportunity to coach LeBron; otherwise, he’ll be in much the same position that his collegiate forebears such as Pitino, Calipari and Floyd found at the next level — in possession of a swollen bank account but an emaciated roster.
  2. You typically don’t see this happen often, but Ralph Willard did it last year when he left Holy Cross to become an assistant at Louisville and now Indiana State head coach Kevin McKenna is leaving his post to become an assistant under Dana Altman at Oregon.  McKenna was only 43-52 in his three seasons at ISU but he did get the Sycamores to the CBI last year, so you wonder what might have been the underlying reason for this move.
  3. Was the Pac-10 taking another look at Kansas in light of rumors that Texas A&M is more interested in moving to the SEC (leaving the rest of the Big 12 South to the west coast)?  Pac-10 Commish Larry Scott was scheduled to stop over in Kansas City on Sunday night, but apparently the plane never showed up.  Does this mean that A&M is back on board with the move west?  And what of Missouri, who was so gung-ho about joining the Big Ten a month ago, but who is now scrambling around to try to save itself and the rest of the Big 12 (good luck with that).  Sensing an opportunity to improve its profile, the Mountain West is already looking at both schools as possible expansion candidates.
  4. D-day for the Big 12 will be Tuesday, as the regents for the University of Texas will meet to decide what, if anything, to do about the reported offers to join the Pac-10 or the SEC versus staying put.  If the Horns decide to move, the Big 12 will probably be kaput as a major conference, a doomsday situation that had its commissioner spending the weekend trying to convince UT brass that a 10-team conference could still remain viable and that the school would be free to pursue its own television deal (presumably something the new Pac-16 would not allow).  Stay tuned — much more will undoubtedly happen this week.
  5. FedEx CEO Fred Smith has his own ideas about conference realignment — if any BCS league agrees to take his beloved Memphis Tigers into its fold, that league could earn up to $10M yearly for the invitation.  The most likely beneficiary?  The Big East, especially if the Big Ten as expected raids some of the conference’s football-playing schools.
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USC Hoops Should Be Thanking Gerrity, Johnson, and Lewis

Posted by jstevrtc on June 10th, 2010

USC received the official response from the NCAA regarding penalties to the men’s basketball team.  Jeff Goodman from FoxSports.com posted a good succinct rundown of USC’s self-imposed penalties plus what the NCAA added today.  The penalties as described below are paraphrased from his article, but you should check out his article by clicking the link above.

Was it worth it?

Here is how USC stuck it to itself in the middle of last season:

  • They ditched one scholarship from last year and this upcoming season,
  • They reduced by one the number of coaches who could hit the road recruiting,
  • Took 20 days off their allowed recruiting time this year,
  • Vacated (a concept we hate) any wins in which O.J. Mayo played,
  • Gave back just over $200,000 they earned by being in the 2008 NCAA Tournament,
  • Let three kids out of their LOIs for the next season, and
  • Took a year off from both the Pac-10 and NCAA Tournaments.

More on that last one in a bit.  Here’s what the NCAA tacked on as far as basketball penalties today:

  • Four years of probation. It starts today, and it ends in exactly 1,461 days on June 9, 2014.  In other words, the NCAA  acknowledges you were bad.  It added some penalties.  But if you screw up any time in the next four years, they’re really going to be ticked.
  • Vacate all those post-season wins from the 2007-2008 season. USC won their first game in the Pac-10 tourney that year over Arizona State, then lost to UCLA.  Then, as a 6-seed, they lost to #11 Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament first round.  Total penalty there?  One win. Crippling.
  • Hold the Mayo.  USC must “disassociate” itself from O.J. Mayo and the guy who provided illegal benefits to Mayo, Rodney Guillory.  USC can’t take any donated money from him, can’t have him helping with recruiting, can’t have him do anything on behalf of the school.  That was probably happening anyway.  We can’t imagine that USC would have him out trumpeting the virtues of USC basketball.
  • If you’re not part of the team, get out. “Non-university personnel” can’t fly on charters, donate money, help with camps, go to practices, or hang out in the locker room during/after games.

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Morning Five: 06.10.10

Posted by rtmsf on June 10th, 2010

  1. Is it just us, or does this feel like the busiest June in college basketball history?  Between Wooden’s passing, every college coach of note contemplating a chance to coach LeBron James, the insanity of conference realignment, and the endless discussion of violations and sanctions, you’d think that we were in the middle of January.  Whew.
  2. The good news: Kansas cleared its AD Lew Perkins of any wrongdoing amidst allegations of trading tickets for athletic equipment.  The much, much worse news: he may no longer have a BCS conference in which to sell or trade those tickets.
  3. Would Tom Izzo realistically leave his successful program at Michigan State to take a shot at coaching LeBron James in the NBA?  According to various reports last night, the answer is yes.  The MSU coach will visit Cleveland Thursday and his Spartan players already have a sense that he might be leaving for this opportunity, the latest of many in his career.  Reportedly Cleveland is offering Izzo twice his current salary of $3M per year, and of course, the opportunity to coach the player widely regarded as the greatest of his generation for the next decade.  This is a very interesting dilemma for the fiery Michigander.
  4. Get excited now, kids — the SEC/Big East Invitational matchups were announced yesterday.  The headliner is that Kentucky will play Notre Dame in Louisville’s Freedom Hall after Seton Hall and Arkansas tip it off in the first game on December 8.  Three days later, Rutgers will face Auburn and Pitt will host Tennessee in the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.  Contain yourselves.
  5. As much as we like to poke fun at Digger Phelps in his role as ‘analyst’ on ESPN, we’re happy to hear that he’s recovering nicely after having prostate cancer surgery in recent days.  Quick question, though — why did Digger choose to have this surgery at the University of Washington in Seattle?  We thought he was pretty much an east coast guy.
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