Assessing the Season: Texas Longhorns

Posted by Nate Kotisso on April 11th, 2013

As the season winds down and Big 12 teams continue to find themselves eliminated from the post-season, we’re taking a look back on a team-by-team basis at the 2012-13 season. Next up: the Texas Longhorns.

Final Record: 16-18 (7-11)

The Expectations: All Texas fans have ever known under Rick Barnes is that they’re eventual shoe-ins for the NCAA Tournament. But even the most optimistic of fans realized that this year would be the toughest he’s ever had in Austin. Gone was their 20 PPG scorer from 2011-12, J’Covan Brown, who decided to pursue a professional career after his junior year. What remained was a rotation that was talented and highly-recruited but was also consisted of a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. Heading into the start of team practice, fans were cautiously optimistic with both Myck Kabongo and Sheldon McClellan pegged for breakout sophomore campaigns.

This season was a surprise to Longhorns fans and head coach Rick Barnes. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)

This season was a surprise to Longhorns fans and head coach Rick Barnes. (Eric Gay/Associated Press)

The Actual Result: When teams started practicing in early October, that’s when news broke that the NCAA was investigating Kabongo. The allegations were that Kabongo had received impermissible benefits from Rich Paul, the agent to former Longhorns Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph as well as LeBron James. Kabongo attended an offseason workout in Cleveland and his travel considerations were (allegedly) paid for by Paul. While Kabongo was investigated, Texas didn’t take any chances in playing a possibly ineligible player. The season commenced and Texas’ offensive struggles were noticeable from the get-go. The Horns suffered an embarrassing loss to Division II Chaminade and struggling USC at the Maui Invitational. There was also the 41-point effort against Georgetown, but after that game it seemed like Rick Barnes’ team was turning the corner. It lost a two-point decision to über-talented UCLA down in Houston and beat Texas State seven days later by double digits.

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Big East M5: 01.25.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on January 25th, 2013

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  1. In the words of the immortal Roseanne Roseannadanna, “it’s always something” with Syracuse basketball. This year’s something — or second something on the heels of Michael Carter-Williams Lord & Taylor mishap — is the current academic ineligibility of James Southerland. Details and rumors have been leaking out around the Internet, as they are wont to do in circumstances like this, and new information from Jim Boeheim seems to give credence to one of them“He’s a senior, he has worked hard to be in school, to stay in school – he has worked hard on and off the court. He had a great semester last fall academically. I am hoping that through the process you have to go through that he will be able to come back.” There has been speculation that Southerland’s issues may stem from a fraudulent term paper which is being investigated by the NCAA. While there is always the chance that the NCAA discovers that the NCAA wrote Southerland’s paper and that the NCAA will now impose sanctions on the NCAA, most Syracuse fans aren’t too optimistic about the situation.
  2. Louisville‘s been in this spot before. After running through a huge chunk of its schedule with one blemish against their record, the Cardinals have dropped two straight, the latter being a heart-breaker at the hands of Villanova in Philadelphia. The 2010-11 Cardinals lost to a much stronger Villanova team at the time, but the feelings are the same as they were a few seasons ago – something must change. That team found its leadership in Preston Knowles, who rallied the team following the loss to ‘Nova and led them to the NCAA Tournament. This squad does not have a Knowles to lean on, but it does have a number of experienced veterans who have plenty of wins under their belt. If any team is equipped to handle a down spell, it is probably Louisville. I don’t think this year’s squad will be falling to any #13 seeds in March either.
  3. Many have complained about the Big East scheduling this season and it is justified criticism, but UConn and Shabazz Napier are currently the benefactor of some serious time off. Napier had been playing with an injured shoulder and was not able to provide what UConn needs from its star, and as a result the Huskies dropped two games. After a week of rest, UConn takes on Rutgers at the XL Center Sunday, and Napier should be in much better shape than he has been over the last few weeks.
  4. Speaking of Rutgers, the Scarlet Knights are in a bit of a quandary when it comes to Eli Carter. He is one of the team’s only reliable scorers and the offense suffers without him on the floor, but Carter has gone absolutely ice cold and shot the Knights out of the game on multiple occasions this season. Scorers will go through droughts, and staying aggressive is one way to get through them, but having multiple one-field goal games is unacceptable. The Star-Ledger‘s Brendon Prunty believes that Carter should come off the bench as a spark plug for Rutgers if he cannot be the consistent scorer in the starting lineup that he was expected to be.
  5. Despite recent success, Cincinnati is a long way from selling out Fifth Third Arena on a regular basis, but an increase in student turnout has helped create a spike in attendance from last season. Cincy moved from an assigned seat to a general admission student model that many schools use, set up a loyalty rewards program, and has implemented some creative marketing to help drive student turnout. However, the biggest factor is the team’s success, according to athletic director Whit Babcock: “We’re not satisfied until every game is sold out, but I like the steps that we’ve taken. Mick and the team should get the bulk of the credit.”
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NCAA Investigation Into Saint Mary’s Shows Incentives the Same Regardless of Program Size

Posted by Chris Johnson on September 24th, 2012

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

The list of power-conference athletic programs that have committed recruiting violations is long and wide-ranging. Just in the past five years, we’ve seen Connecticut men’s basketball, Ohio State football, Baylor men’s basketball, Oregon football, USC football and men’s basketball – among many other notable big-time programs – either accused or charged with breaking the NCAA’s strict recruiting codes. These brand-name programs are often hit with crippling sanctions that not only restrict competitive potential, but stain nationally-renowned schools with the stigma of cheat, deceit and fraud. Sometimes, as was the case with USC hoops, there are one or two rogue athletes responsible for their programs’ reckoning. For others it’s a problem embedded within the institution. SMU’s pay-for-play football setup, revealed to the masses more than a quarter century ago, underscores the latter. Still, there is a common denominator at play here. These scandals become national stories, all of them, because of the institutions at which they occur and the negative ripple effects the violations threaten to generate. When news broke of OSU’s “tattoos-for-swag” arrangement, it was the job status of former coach Jim Tressel and the speculation over his replacement that stole back-page headlines. The violations were compelling in and of themselves, but the national appeal stemmed from the long-term implications on the Buckeyes, a legendary, if iconic, football program.

Under Bennett, and thanks to an unusual influx of Australian talent, the Gaels have risen to the upper levels of mid-major competition (Photo credit: Jason O. Watson/US Presswire).

The media attention these stories capture obscures the true breadth and reach of illicit recruiting behavior: NCAA violations, viewed by the layperson through a prism of high-major perpetration, extending to the mid-major ranks. We got the latest example over the weekend courtesy of ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, who reported that the Saint Mary’s men’s basketball program has been subject of an NCAA investigation over the past year for potential recruiting violations. The focus of the investigation remains a mystery, though sources confirmed to Katz that David Patrick, a former Saint Mary’s assistant who was instrumental in the recruitment of several Australian players to the program (most notably Patty Mills), has spoken with NCAA personnel. Program officials, including associate athletic director Richard Kilwein, athletic director Mike Orr and head coach Randy Bennett, have all declined to comment. The Gaels broke Gonzaga’s more than decade-long stranglehold over West Coast Conference hoops last season by claiming the league title outright, the first time since the 1999-2000 season that a team other than the Zags seized solitary ownership of the conference crown. For a program that during Bennett’s tenure has evolved into one of the nation’s premier mid-majors, any punitive measures would represent a major stain in an otherwise sparkling recent history.

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