Morning Five: 05.22.14 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 22nd, 2014

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  1. As we head into Memorial Day weekend, the long summer of college basketball purgatory awaits — June, July and August are fun months for many other reasons, but getting your college hoops fix isn’t one of them. Message boards and social media will remain active, of course, and we’ll do our part here from time to time as well, but at the end of the day, we’re all daydreaming about how next season will play out. The Sporting News waited a little longer than most outlets to release its post-early entry Top 25 for the preseason, but the timing works because it gives us something to chatter about. Perhaps the most surprising selection here is that TSN went against the grain in choosing a team not named Kentucky as its overall #1 team, but there are a few other surprises scattered about the list (particularly at #5). If you need a comparison Top 25, here’s RTC’s version from about a month ago.
  2. One of the teams looking to reload after losing Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins to next month’s NBA Draft will be Kansas. With another elite recruiting class headed to Lawrence, however, headlined by star forwards Cliff Alexander and Kelly Oubre, the Jayhawks populate most pundits’ preseason top 10s. Bill Self’s squad might find itself rising in everyone’s mind by October, as Kansas on Wednesday added another impressive piece to the class in Ukrainian guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk – good luck pronouncing that one — a tall but talented shooting guard who has been favorably compared with former Michigan star Nik Stauskas. With a ton of frontcourt talent on board as well as Wayne Selden and now Mykhailiuk joining the program, Self only needs to figure out his point guard situation in order to roll out another big-time National Championship contender.
  3. Speaking of one-and-dones, seemingly everyone who has a stake in the game is sick of them. Whether you’re in favor of going back to the preps-to-pros of the multi-year NFL model, people seem to agree that something needs to change. For the good of the game and all that. The Pac-12 on Wednesday took its own shot across the bow of the NBA’s dominion by releasing a letter addressed to ACC, Big Ten, Big 12 and SEC schools suggesting as one of its key reforms the following admonition: “Address the “one and done” phenomenon in men’s basketball. If the National Basketball Association and its Players Association are unable to agree on raising the age limit for players, consider restoring the freshman ineligibility rule in men’s basketball.” Of course, the NBA, under the new leadership of Adam Silver, appears to have prioritized a two-and-through model for its next round of player negotiations, but there’s certainly no guarantee that such a change in rookie eligibility will occur. But freshman ineligibility as a measure of pushback? It would only serve to further marginalize college basketball as a major American sport. 
  4. Remember Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s former VP of Enforcement who was run out of the organization on a rail after the disastrous investigation of Miami (FL) athletics and the influence of Nevin Shapiro? After a 14-month hiatus doing consulting work, she’s back in college athletics, now as the new Deputy Commissioner of the Horizon League. Her new responsibilities will include oversight of the league’s 19 championships, student-athlete development, finances, corporate sponsorship and branding, all interesting and important aspects of an organization that has little to do with her previous role involving enforcement. Still, her breadth of experience and without question also her ties to the inner workings of the NCAA right down the street from HL offices are attractive qualities, and everyone deserves a second chance to prove their value and integrity. We wish her and the conference well on their new endeavor.
  5. Some transfer news from the midweek: Creighton picked up Cal transfer Ricky Kreklow; Michigan State’s Russell Byrd plans to play at NAIA school Master’s College; and the nation’s top returning scorer, Niagara’s Antoine Mason, is on the move for his final season of eligibility. All three will be eligible to play next season (Kreklow and Mason are set to use the graduate transfer exception next season, while there is no transfer penalty for Byrd to drop to the NAIA), but it is the free agency of Mason that might be the most interesting of this group. The 6’3″ guard and son of former New York Knick Anthony Mason will no doubt be a hot commodity in coming weeks for schools seeking to add some immediate scoring punch to their backcourts. The caveat with Mason, of course, is that he’s a high-volume, low-efficiency guy who took as many shots as he liked for a 7-26 MAAC team last season. If a high-major coach can get through to him to cut way back on his three-point attempts (28.6% on 168 attempts last season) and focus on driving the lane to draw fouls and get to the line (where he shoots a much nicer 72.8%), then Mason could become a key contributor on a contender next season.
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Halloween Tricks and Treats For Hoops Fans Everywhere

Posted by rtmsf on October 31st, 2013

As an army of ghosts, goblins, witches and werewolves prepares to descend upon neighborhoods from coast to coast, we thought it might be worthwhile to hand out a few tricks and treats of our own before the autumnal extravaganza begins in earnest this evening. We’ve got a basket full of goodies to give away, but not everybody in our neighborhood is deserving of the full-size candy bars and gummy worms we have in our cache. Some of the trick-or-treaters in College Basketball Nation are frankly more deserving of healthy sweets (yay, fruits!) and some brand-new toothbrushes. Let’s take a look:

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TRICK: Our first trick goes to Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson, who will receive a Costco-sized package of Dove from us this Halloween. With a mouth as profane as his, Henderson could stand to abide any good grandmother’s advice and wash his mouth out with a plentiful helping of soap. His act is one part entertaining and three parts tiresome, so let’s knock on wood to hope that he figures out a way this season to let his highly-impressive (and efficient) game do his talking.

TREAT: It’s still October, so we’re going to hand out treats in the form of a bag of candy corn (it’s striped, after all) to our intrepid game officials. The new rules instituted this offseason by the NCAA to eliminate hand-checking on the perimeter and bumping of cutters is designed to improve player movement and make the game more free-flowing. The NBA went through a similar transformation during the last five years, and the preponderance of open-floor offenses in the league has made the professional game a much better product as a result. Now, the zebras just need to implement it. Like we said, it’s still October.

TRICK: Some trick-or-treaters simply can’t get past others’ success, and they’re smaller for it. There’s no narrative more annoying in college basketball these days than the “[John] Calipari cheats” meme. The Kentucky head coach hasn’t always been an uber-recruiter (he had one legitimate NBA player in eight years at UMass), but he has always been a winner (at least in the college game). Yet many people in and around the sport simply won’t let go of the idea that he is some kind of masterful Dr. Evil on the recruiting trail, offering “one millllll-ion dollars” to the best prep talent the US has to offer. For these people, we’re giving out black licorice vines in the hopes that the candy stains their teeth as much as bitterness has stained their souls.

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The Shame of College Sports: The CliffsNotes Version

Posted by rtmsf on September 15th, 2011

The average American can read between 300 to 500 words per minute.  If you’re at the high end of this range, it would still take you roughly a half-hour to read Taylor Branch’s seminal 14,573-word essay entitled “The Shame of College Sports,” published yesterday in The Atlantic.  To carefully consider the weight of his ideas, though, it would take you far longer.  And that’s what you should do.  If you’re a fan of college sports, and we’re going to assume that you are, then this might be the most important article you’ll ever read about the NCAA as an organization.  We highly encourage you to take the time, find a comfortable chair, and let the words and impressions from the Pulitzer Prize winner’s piece wash over you.  (Also consider yourself lucky — Branch’s award-winning trilogy on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., totals almost 3,000 pages — we pity the poor history grad students who have to slog through those tomes)

We recognize, though, that not everyone is going to have the time nor inclination to read all of what is admittedly a dense article.  For those folks, we’ve decided that the piece is so important to the public discourse about the NCAA, its member institutions, administrators and student-athletes that we are providing a CliffsNotes version of the essential excerpts from Branch’s work.  Our recommendation remains that you should read the entire thing, but if you don’t, here’s what you need to know.

The primary point of the article is that the NCAA, at its heart, is an eminently self-interested and ignoble organization that cares little about the very students that it purports to protect:

For all the outrage, the real scandal is not that students are getting illegally paid or recruited, it’s that two of the noble principles on which the NCAA justifies its existence—“amateurism” and the “student-athlete”—are cynical hoaxes, legalistic confections propagated by the universities so they can exploit the skills and fame of young athletes. The tragedy at the heart of college sports is not that some college athletes are getting paid, but that more of them are not.

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Nick Calathes Channelling Teddy Dupay…

Posted by rtmsf on November 14th, 2008

Ahh… Florida.  The sunshine, the beautiful womenSouth Beach, the Redneck Riviera, Katherine Harris’ rack, hanging chads and Tony Montana, not to mention the gargantuan cockroaches palmetto bugs running around everywhere.  You gotta love this state.  It also appears to be a burgeoning mecca for collegiate ballplayers who like to taste the sweet sensations that only a matched A/K on the river can provide.  Yes, Gainesville is the new Monte Carlo.  Don’t believe us?  Just ask Florida guard Nick Calathes.  From Yahoo:

Florida guard Nick Calathes ran up about $600 in debt playing poker online but did not bet on sporting events, which would have violated NCAA rules, according to a person close to the program.  The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because of student confidentiality concerns, said the athletic department questioned Calathes and other Florida basketball players but found no evidence of wrongdoing.  “We became aware of certain allegations over the weekend and immediately looked into it,” athletic director Jeremy Foley said in a statement. “We reviewed everything very thoroughly and are satisfied with our results. We have no eligibility issues and are very comfortable that this issue is resolved based on our review.”

online-poker

Calathes Talking to His Girlfriend?

Hmmmmmmmmm………………….

Just a few questions, your honor.  1) how did Calathes run up the $600 debt – was it on his personal credit card?  his parents?  a roommate?  2)  irrespective of that, how did these allegations come to light?  who dropped dime on his activities and why?  3) and how can we be certain that Calathes never bet on sports of any kind?  Inquiring minds want to know. 

Of course, like Reggie Bush, OJ Mayo and countless other real scandals, we wouldn’t expect the NCAA to so much as ask any questions about this matter, much less investigate it.  Florida is one of the biggest cash cows in Myles Brand’s stable, after all. 

We do have one final question, though.  Has this guy been spotted running around Gainesville lately?  And since when did he grow from 5’9 to 6’3???

teddy-dupay-mugshot

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05.16.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 16th, 2008

Finishing out your week with a bunch of meaningless links – enjoy!

  • OJ Mayo claims he never took nothing from nobody!  Apparently Mayo’s HS in Ohio (North College Hill) will keep its two titles from 2005 and 2006 – the OHSAA only gives you six weeks to contest a violation of any kind! 
    nvr1983 update: I prefer the actual LA Times article/interview. Even though I know it is normal for athletes to get rather large gifts from agents before the draft (rtmsf and I witnessed it in 1998 with Vince Carter and Antawn Jamison and a tricked out Navigator), the last sentence is a classic.
  • UNC’s Alex Stepheson announced that he is transferring closer to home for family reasons (SoCal). 
  • USC may lose a major recruit for 09 in the fallout of the Mayo scandal.
  • UConn guard Doug Wiggins is transferring to UMass – oh, to reminisce on what an uproar this would have caused ca. 1994. 
  • Indiana’s former assistant coach Dan Dakich got bought out for $185k. 
  • BYU’s Trent Plaisted signed with an agent and will stay in the NBA Draft.
  • Here’s Shawn Siegel’s most excellent ratings of the top ten players at each position in this year’s draft class (PGs, SGs, and more to come…)
  • Yes, kids, testing the waters can end up pigeonholing you and hurting your future draft position.
  • Jay Bilas indicts everyone and anyone related to the stink emanating from the business of basketball (and we largely agree with him).  (insider only)
  • Gary Parrish talks about how teams are stealing players from programs going through coaching changes (Duke and UCLA are the latest beneficiaries). 
  • If this isn’t IRONIC in the wake of Huggins’ stint at Kansas State (one-and-done), we don’t know what is…
  • Andy Glockner reports that the mid-majors are getting hit hard by the glut of early entries these days too.
  • Is college basketball being unfairly singled out for additional enforcement (vis-a-vis football) by Myles Brand?
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