Checking in on… the Pac-10

Posted by rtmsf on February 24th, 2010

Andrew Murawa is the RTC correspondent for the Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences.


  1. California    10-5       18-9
  2. Arizona State     9-5          19-8
  3. USC     8-6          16-10
  4. Washington     8-7          18-9
  5. Arizona      7-7          13-13
  6. UCLA      7-7          12-14
  7. Stanford      7-8          13-14
  8. Oregon State      6-8          12-14
  9. Washington State     6-9          16-11
  10. Oregon       4-10       12-14

We haven’t had a Pac-10 update ‘round these parts since the conference season began, but it is no secret that the one-word summation of the Pac-10 season to this point is “ugly.”  The only team with anything at all to say about potentially receiving an at-large bid is California, and it is increasingly likely that if Cal fails to win the Pac-10 tournament, they’ll be looking at an NIT bid. For the first time in as far back as I care to research, the only Pac-10 team that will be heading to the NCAA tournament is the team that wins the automatic bid as the Pac-10 tournament champion.

A quick rundown of the teams:

California – The Bears currently top the conference, and of all Pac-10 teams have the best chance at an at-large bid given their RPI in the low 20s and the fourth toughest schedule in the country, but every time it looks like this team is going to  reel off a string of victories, they drop a game like they did Thursday when eighth place Oregon State handled them easily in Corvalis, 80-64. The numbers look good for the senior quartet of Jerome Randle, Patrick Christopher, Theo Robertson and Jamal Boykin (60.2 ppg between the four, with all averaging double-figures on the season), but each has been inconsistent this season, such as when Randle went just 2-9 from the field, 0-5 from behind the arc and had four turnovers in the OSU game.

Arizona StateHerb Sendek’s squad sits just a half-game back of the Bears in the conference standings, a bit of business that will get sorted out on Saturday when they head to Haas Pavilion, but although they have a top-50 win (something Cal cannot boast) over San Diego State, there just isn’t enough there on the ASU resume to really warrant serious at-large consideration. The Sun Devils have gotten as far as they have on the strength of their guard play; senior point Derek Glasser leads the conference in assists, and he and junior point Jamelle McMillan are one-two in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio.

USC – The Trojans are a team that would be a very tough out in the Pac-10 tournament – that is if the Trojans were going to play in the Pac-10 tournament. In an attempt to throw the NCAA hounds off the trail a bit and to make some sort of restitution for the O.J. Mayo, Reggie Bush and how many other incidents, the USC athletic department decided to self-punish the basketball program, stripping them of their chance to play in the postseason this year. Head coach Kevin O’Neill has done a pretty strong job of keeping his kids together and when the Trojans have come out focused they have been very strong this year (they’ve split with Cal, taken their one matchup with ASU, and swept Washington and UCLA), but playing out the string has got to be hard for these kids and as a result, they’ve lost games to Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State, that they might not have lost had a possible NCAA tourney bid been waiting at the end.

Washington – In a season of conference-wide disappointment, the Huskies have got to take home the title of most disappointing Pac-10 team. At the start of the year, Washington was considered something of a co-favorite to win the conference, and seemed to be a team that could make some noise in March. But between then and now, the Huskies have struggled to gain any consistency. They did pull together a four-game win streak in late January/early February, then laid an egg in their big matchup at Cal. Senior forward Quincy Pondexter has likely been the player-of-the-year in the conference (20.3 ppg, 7.9 rpg), but highly-anticipated freshman guard Abdul Gaddy has yet to catch on, and the team has struggled mightily on the road, notching just a 1-6 record so far.

Arizona – At some point in April, right after Sean Miller had accepted the Arizona job, his roster consisted of little more than senior point Nic Wise, junior wing Jamelle Horne, a couple other returning pieces and a boatload of question marks. Miller took advantage of the meltdown at USC and grabbed some of their fleeing castoffs and wound up patching together a pretty strong recruiting class, and actually had this Wildcat team tied for the conference lead not too long ago. Freshman forward Derrick Williams has been the best of the new Cats (15.4 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and while there are growing pains in the future, especially with Wise getting fitted for cap and gown, folks around Tucson are pretty confident that Miller will be able to get this program back to the heights they are used to.

UCLA – The incongruous facts that the Bruins are 7-7 in conference and two games under .500 on the season and that Ben Howland has done a pretty strong job getting his team that far is a good indication of how bad this Bruin team is. As sophomore Jerime Anderson’s inability to handle the point guard position became apparent, Howland slid another sophomore, Malcolm Lee, over from the two to play out of position. While Lee is still not particularly well suited to the one, he is a definite improvement there. Likewise, as this group as a whole showed that they were incapable of playing the type of man defense that Howland demands, he switched over to run some zone. Still not a great defensive team, but an improvement. Those types of things sum up this season for UCLA. While you still can’t make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, Howland has at least managed to scrape this Bruin squad together to the point where they aren’t consistently getting embarrassed.

Stanford – Senior swingman Landry Fields and sophomore guard Jeremy Green have turned into quite a duo up on the farm. They are the highest scoring duo in the Pac-10 (nearly 40 points a game), and Fields is a serious conference Player of the Year candidate. Sophomore Jarrett Mann has also turned into a nice point guard, and between he and Green, head coach Johnny Dawkins doesn’t have a whole lot of question marks in the backcourt for next season. The problem for the Cardinal has been the interior game. They are one of the worst rebounding teams (and that despite Fields’ second-best in the Pac-10 8.7 rpg) and are the worst shotblocking team in the Pac-10, with only 45 blocks on the season. Dawkins does have some help coming, however, with four forwards already signed in next year’s recruiting class.

Oregon State – In Craig Robinson’s first season, the Beavers took a major step forward. Certainly another seven-win improvement this season would have been more than anyone could have hoped for, but given the return of much of their roster and the decrease in the overall talent level in the Pac-10, expectations had to be higher than a mere repeat of last season for the Beavers. And yet, that’s where they’re at now. At this point in 2008-09, the Beavers were 12-13 and 6-8 in the conference. The only difference this year is one additional non-conference loss. Junior guard Calvin Haynes is the OSU leading scorer with 13.2 ppg this year; last year he averaged 13.0. Senior center Roeland Schaftenaar’s point totals have dropped slightly, while senior swingman Seth Tarver’s are up slightly. In all, it is looking like a huge uptick from Robinson season one to season two followed by a season worth of reruns.

Washington State – Not a lot of fun being a Washington-state sports fan these days. The Sonics are something called a Thunder these days and they play in tornado country somewhere, the Seahawks are at the bottom of the barrel, college football is just about non-existent and their college basketball programs, which were at one point a combined 20-3 this season, have now combined to go 14-17 since then. For the Cougs, sophomore wing Klay Thompson’s production has taken a bit of a dive in conference play (he just scored 10 combined points in a homestand against the Southern California schools), although he is still averaging almost 21 ppg this season. But with freshman point Reggie Moore and sophomore bruiser DeAngelo Casto to pair up with Thompson, head coach Ken Bone has a young nucleus around which to build.

Oregon – There are two more Pac-10 conference games that will be played at McArthur Court. While some of Oregon’s early-season non-conference games will be played there next season, the Ducks homestand against the Washington schools the final week of the Pac-10 season will close the books on the meaningful games played in that phenomenal building. Some sparkling, brand new beauty of an abomination will “replace” it, but the best atmosphere in the Pac-10 is going away. That’s what I’ll remember from this Duck season. Beyond that, head coach Ernie Kent totters toward a termination, the roster is full of guys with talent who aren’t able to string it together for more than a weekend or two, and Tajuan Porter just missed another wild three. But none of it matters. They’re closing Mac Court.

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Morning Five: 01.15.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 15th, 2010

  1. Knowing what we know about NC State, this idea to use a real wolf as the team mascot will not end well.  Then again, maybe the wolf can “escape” and devour Sidney Lowe during a rampage — that might make some of their fans happy.
  2. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan pulled no punches in his address to the NCAA yesterday, stating that college basketball is tainted by ‘renegade’ coaches and that the one-and-done rule is essentially an academic sham.
  3. The hits keep coming for DePaul.  Just days after firing their coach Jerry Wainwright, the Blue Demons lost their best player Mac Koshwal 2-4 weeks with a foot injury.
  4. Luke Winn is back with his power rankings in the best read of the week, as usual.  It’s a little scary that we remember those LJ/Augmon t-shirts from the days when the high fade was still rockin like Marley Marl and De La Soul.
  5. OJ Mayo continues to hide behind his agent when it comes to substantive answers while maintaining that he loves USC and would have never done anything inappropriate like, oh, maybe take money to attend the school.  Look, we know he’s not legally obligated to say a word, but just once we’d like to see an athlete come out in his prime and say, “yeah, I did all that stuff and more.  So what?”  Maybe by thumbing his nose at the NCAA, it’ll help embarrass the organization into re-assessing how they do business.
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Morning Five: 01.08.10 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 8th, 2010

  1. Chairgate 2010.  Did Karl Malone or did he not throw Nevada’s folding chairs into the dumpster after a recent game between Louisiana Tech and the Wolfpack (on ‘his’ court)?  We have no idea but the mere thought of it is awesome on about twenty-four different levels.  Please, please let The Mailman do an interview with someone over this soon.
  2. Jim Calhoun is becoming a specific target after last year’s presser incident about his salary, as this exchange with a crank caller documented by Adam Zagoria on today’s Big East coaches conference call attests.
  3. OJ Mayo’s agent wants everyone to know that he took no inducements to come to USC nor during his one year in Los Angeles and, um, it was all Rodney Guillory’s fault and it was OJ’s love of California that drew him to a football school with virtually no basketball history.  And please, no more questions.
  4. One of our favorite ACC bloggers broke down the twelve teams of the ACC using “NBA Jam” and concluded that Georgia Tech’s trio of Gani Lawal, Derrick Favors and Mfon Udofia would be sicknasty.  He’s probably right because Paul Hewitt wouldn’t be around to coach them.
  5. Luke Winn’s Power Rankings don’t see much movement, but is there a more interesting read on in the entire canon of college basketball coverage on a weekly basis than this feature?  Not for our money.
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RTC Live: USC @ Stanford

Posted by rtmsf on January 5th, 2010

Can USC keep its spot atop the Pac-10 Conference following its self-imposed ban on post-season play? Can Stanford shake off a 92-66 pasting by archrival Cal last week and even up its own Pac-10 record? These questions and others will be answered when 6-7 Stanford hosts Southern Cal and its eight-game, Mike Gerrity-led winning streak on Wednesday night at 7 p.m. PT. The game will be the first since USC announced its own punishment for recruiting violations concerning departed star O.J. Mayo. Before the ban was announced USC ran the table last weekend on Arizona and Arizona State to go 2-0 in conference play.  Stanford has been up and down all year, beating Virginia and taking Kentucky to the wire earlier this year, but coming into this game having dropped four of five.  It’ll be very interesting to see how the Trojans respond to their disappointing news at Maples Pavilion this evening. 

Read the rest of this entry »

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Preseason Polls Released Today

Posted by rtmsf on October 29th, 2009


One of the favorite days of the year for us at RTC is when the preseason polls are announced.  Maybe it takes us back to our days growing up and anticipating the start of the season, but somehow, it just seems to make everything official.  Granted, media has changed a LOT since those days, and we spend more time nitpicking and disagreeing with these polls than we used to, but it’s still a cool harbinger that the season is just around the corner, so enjoy. 

Our QnD analysis follows the polls.

09 preseason polls v.2

QnD Analysis.

  • It’s clear the media thinks a little more highly of John Calipari’s Kentucky team and a little less than Roy Williams’ UNC team than the coaches do.  UK got 82.5% as many votes as Kansas in the coaches’ poll, while garnering 85.1% in the AP; meanwhile, UNC earned 84.8% in the coaches’ vs. 81.9% in the AP.  This is probably a good example that shows how coaches think versus how the media thinks.  It’s our view that coaches do not respect John Calipari as much as they probably should, so he gets dinged a little despite having A-list talent while Roy Williams gets a bump despite losing four starters.  On the other side, the media sees the players that Calipari has at his disposal this year and they get all googly-eyed thinking about it, so they tend to rate Kentucky higher than UNC, somewhat ignoring the history that Roy Williams has in getting teams to come together.  It’s a very subtle point, but we think a clear one.   
  • The team with the biggest disparity between polls, Minnesota, also illustrates this point beautifully.   Coaches rank Tubby Smith’s team #18 (19.5%) in the nation based on Smith’s reputation for overachieving; the media, however, doesn’t see as much talent on the court as some of the other teams around Minnesota, so while recognizing Tubby’s ability to get the most from his players, they rate the Gophers lower at #25 (10.6%). 
  • Louisville is also a strange case here.  The coaches rate the Cardinals quite a bit lower than the media does (#23, 15.9% vs. #19, 20.6%), and you wonder if they sense that all the bad news has taken a toll on the UL program and will manifest itself as a weaker team this year. 
  • Nice to see Butler getting nearly top-ten love as the best mid, but they’re going to have to earn that ranking very early in their schedule, with games at Northwestern, at Evansville, vs. Ohio St. and Xavier at home, plus neutral site games in the loaded 76 Classic in Anaheim and against Georgetown in MSG. 
  • In the ORV, Maryland will probably hover around the 20-30 zone all season, but what is going on with the coaches giving 22 votes to USC?!?!?  At first, we thought it was an abbreviation for “South Carolina” until we saw the other SC down at the bottom with a ridiculous one vote.  They do realize that Tim Floyd and OJ Mayo are no longer there, right?
  • No major qualms with the rest of it, although UCLA right now is a reach for the top 30 (too many unknowns) and Vanderbilt is going to be better than several teams in the top 25 this year. 
  • Conference Breakdown (Coaches, AP):  ACC (4, 4), A10 (1, 1), Big East (6, 5), Big 12 (3, 3), Big 10 (5, 6), Horizon (1, 1), Pac-10 (2, 2), SEC (3, 3).
  • Final thought – the RTC Preseason Top 25 will release on Opening Night (Monday, Nov. 9), so keep an eye out for that. 

What say you, readers?

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09.14.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on September 14th, 2009

In the last week or so, we’ve noticed that the days are distinctly shorter than they were, which means only one thing…  darkness.

  • What, no Matt Doherty?  Carolina celebrated its 100 years of basketball with a blowout extravaganza two Fridays ago featuring such UNC luminaries as Dean Smith, Michael Jordan, Vince Carter, Phil Ford, Larry Brown, Antawn Jamison, George Karl, Julius Peppers and a bunch of other dignitaries, both past and present.  The tribute video they presented at the beginning of the evening should be mandatory viewing for every recruit that steps into Chapel Hill (sidenote: 2010 #1 Harrison Barnes and several others were there), but the featured event was the scrimmage, nicknamed the “Professional Alumni Game,” where the White team (starters: Raymond Felton, Brendan Haywood, Marvin Williams, Antawn Jamison and Jerry Stackhouse) defeated the Blue team (Vince Carter, Jawad Williams, Dante Calabria, Sean May and Ed Cota) 113-92.  It sounds great and all, but it was the trotting out of that old Carolina/Dean Smith warhorse, the Four Corners offense, that just about made this writer puke.  Let’s sully one of the greatest collections of collegiate talent ever put together in a single place at a single time by reminiscing and celebrating one of the biggest abominations the game has ever witnessed.  For you youngsters, the 4C was largely responsible for the implementation of the 45-second shot clock in the mid-80s, and is widely ridiculed as one of the worst inventions of the modern game.  Bad, bad idea, Heels.  As another sidenote to this Carolina joyfest, did anyone else feel that MJ’s acceptance speech at the HOF induction last weekend was completely petty and mean-spirited?  From our cheap seats, it appears that more than one Jordan Myth was defused this weekend (h/t TBL).
  • Memphis Appeals.  Last week Memphis sent its timely notice of appeal to the NCAA based on the Derrick Rose Scandal, arguing that the Tigers’ 38 wins and NCAA Tournament runner-up appearance from 2007-08 should not be removed from the history books.  Among the findings that led to the penalties, the only one that Memphis is appealing is the violation involving Derrick Rose’s SAT score.  This is presumably because it is also the most difficult one to prove (cf. with Memphis getting cold-busted for providing illicit airfare and hotels to Reggie Rose).  The school, now represented by “NCAA defender to the stars” Mike Glazier, has thirty days to present its arguments to the NCAA Infractions Committee, and their argument is going to undoubtedly hinge on the seeming inconsistency of Derrick Rose being cleared by the NCAA Clearinghouse prior to his freshman season only to be later deemed ineligible after the fact.  Sadly for Memphis, in this case and in the real world, what is an apparent inconsistency is incongruent with the fact that the justice system (and the NCAA) doesn’t work like that.  The bottom line is this: so long as the Clearinghouse made a good faith effort to determine the basis for Rose’s initial eligibility (and we presume it did), the revelation of later evidence indicting Rose’s SAT provenance has no bearing on the initial assessment.  The NCAA had no basis to believe that Rose had cheated on his SATs until the allegations surfaced after his freshman year.  The real-world analogy would be if the police did a cursory investigation of someone related to a crime and found no evidence to initially support their involvement, only to receive credible information a year later that the person investigated might have indeed committed the crime.  Rose was no more “cleared” than any of us are – there is no “get-out-of-jail-free” card that we can present in perpetuity; if additional information comes to light, it is entirely reasonable for conditions to change in response.  Furthermore, the fact that Rose then ignored three letters from ETS (who administers the SAT) questioning his score, and two other letters from the NCAA requesting an interview, does not help his case.  Unless he plans on showing up to the NCAA hearing on Memphis’ behalf with evidence to the contrary (LOLable), we’re afraid that Memphis is going to be forced to eat those 38 wins and the $600K they stand to lose here.  Maybe Josh Pastner could simply request that Rose write him a check?
  • Back To Renardo Sidney.  The NCAA stated last Friday that Mississippi St.’s Renardo Sidney is not certified to play this season because his family did not turn over the financial documentation that they requested as part of the investigation into how the Sidneys afforded to live in high-end homes in the LA area.  Or as they put it, Sidney is “not certified due to non response.”  The NCAA went on to say that if or when the Sidneys send the information requested (and not a stack of random papers they found in someone’s locker), then his certification will be re-evaluated.  What does all this mean?  Basically, the NCAA doesn’t want to get caught with its pants down again, as in the cases of OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose where they certified players as initially eligible only to watch as those same players danced on the NCAA Clearinghouse’s grave en route to the NBA.  Sidney’s attorney is threatening lawsuit, and we suspect that his argument “that the Sidney family has to establish the existence of non-violations” probably has some merit, but none of this may matter given we’re only two months from the first games and the justice system moves slower than molasses.  It’s unlikely that MSU will risk playing Sidney while the wheels of justice are turning simply because they don’t want a Rose giveback of all the Ws they’re anticipating this season.
  • Vegas Watch: Big Ten.  VW got his third installment of the major conference previews up today, and once again we were invited along for the peep show.  What’s interesting about the Big Ten ratings is that we all pretty much agreed that Purdue is the best team in the conference in 09-10, but (at least for our money) Michigan St. is the team more likely to do damage in the NCAA Tournament.  Another good exercise, and the league is looking at being way up – up to seven solid NCAA bids this season.  For the ACC and Big 12 ratings and discussion, see these posts.
  • Quick HitsSlam Magazine: finished its Top 25.  Arizona St.: more than just Harden and PendergraphParrish: why Butler is no Boise.   Goodman: 25 players you should know for 09-10, and his all-americans (John Wall for POY = bold).  Incredible Shrinking Center: Memphis’ Pierre Henderson-NilesJim Griffin: RIPJohn Pelphrey at Arkansas: agreedSeton Hall: extends Bobby Gonzalez to 2015Florida St.: haven’t we heard this song before?  Travis Ford: wow, how do you get a 10-year extension after one year on the job?  Larry Eustachy: Gillispie has a diseaseFreshmen: here’s the top 20 for 09-10Memphis: down to 8 scholarship playersBlue Ribbon: go ahead and order it.
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Myles Brand’s Solution to 1-and-Dones: 2-and-Dones

Posted by rtmsf on July 7th, 2009

We stumbled across an article recently while reading about the latest Sarah Palin tragicomedy, and we were immediately surprised about a couple of things.  First, why is the Huffington Post writing about one-and-done basketball players?  And second, why is the author of the piece, NCAA head honcho Myles Brand, blogging for the HuffPo and not ESPN, CBS Sports, NCAA News or some other sports-related website?  Further investigation revealed that Brand has been writing on this platform since last August – 13 total entries – ranging in topics from the myth of the ‘dumb jock’ to diversity hiring in athletics to pay-for-play.  It made for some interesting browsing, and if you have an extra fifteen or twenty minutes, well worth the time to delve deeper into the mind of someone who has spent countless hours in contemplative thought about the major issues affecting collegiate athletics today.

myles brand painting

Of course, the post that caught our eye initially was written this week and called “Maybe Two is More Than Twice As Good As One,” and the central thesis to Brand’s argument is that there is a media-driven hysteria that significantly overblows the negative impact that one-and-dones have on college basketball.  Brand writes:

Other than all the articles written, it [one-and-dones] has little impact on the college game.  “But wait,” shout the naysayers, “What about the fact that the rule guarantees there will be basketball players — student-athletes — who have no intention of being students and even stop going to classes their second semester? And what about the fact that some may cheat to become eligible for their required one year?”  The problem with the majority of the media reports is that they focus on the same two or three examples and fail to point out that the number of one-and-doners is no more than a handful in any one year.

Brand, in aggregate terms, is right about this part.  We showed in our analysis of one-and-dones last week that there have been 24 total such players in the three year history of the rule, or, roughly eight per year, which accounts for <0.1% of D1 players in a given season.  Of the 24, only two players – USC’s OJ Mayo and Memphis’ Derrick Rose – have been involved in ex post facto allegations of impropriety (roughly 8% of those).  (Note: the class of 2009 with John Wall, Lance Stephenson, Renardo Sidney and others could significantly increase these numbers).  Eight percent of a sample of 0.1% of D1 players is a very small number indeed, and from Brand’s perspective as president of the entire shebang, seemingly insignificant.

The problem is that, from a casual college basketball fan’s perspective, those 24 players are significant.  And for a fan of a particular school that has lost multiple star players in three seasons to the one-and-done rule – schools such as Ohio St. (3), UCLA (2), Georgia Tech (2), Memphis (2), or USC (2) – those players are very significant.   Not to mention fans who are fatigued from watching star players pass through campus for one unfulfilling season before shuffling off to the NBA – keep in mind that of the nineteen one-and-dones, only Rose, Kevin Love and the OSU trio of Greg Oden, Mike Conley and Daequan Cook have played in a Final Four and none has won a championship (Melo, of course, came to Syracuse prior to the NBA rule).  As a result of this rule, college basketball is robbed of its top young players every single year, often before they can make a national splash, and that fact alone makes it increasingly difficult for casual fans to stay tuned in on a year-to-year basis.

Teaming Up Basketball

While we generally take issue with the relative impact of the one-and-done rule according to Brand (it’s a big deal!), we completely agree with his suggested solution: just add another year to the NBA requirement.  We’re as much a right-to-work person as anybody, and by no means do we want to suggest that this is the ‘right’ thing from the perspective of the athletes; however, if the NBA is going to continue to insist on a rule for its own selfish reasons of improved scouting, minimizing competitive risk, and providing players a less stressful opportunity to grow, then a two-year requirement is the proper compromise.  By staying in college for two seasons, Brand mentions that the marketability of stars would increase substantially and it certainly would get more players further along the path toward graduation (4+ semesters vs. 1+), and we completely agree with his assessment.

The word we’ve heard for some time now is that NBA Commish David Stern wanted a two-year requirement during the last collective bargaining negotiations, but he backed off in order to get some other things on his wish list.  With a rough economy taking a bite of the entertainment dollar in NBA cities across the land, Stern may be in good position to push through the two-year rule when the next bargaining session begins in 2011.  And who knows, with Myles Brand lobbying/blogging into his ear, college hoops may just end up better for this in the long run.

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USC Hires Kevin O’Neill

Posted by nvr1983 on June 20th, 2009

I’m beginning to think that there is some bizarre ArizonaUSC connection going on after USC announced that former interim Wildcat  coach Kevin O’Neill was going to take over as the Trojans new head coach. You may remember O’Neill from the Lute Olson fiasco after the 2007-2008 season, but O’Neill also has prior coaching experience at the college (171-180  in 12 seasons) and pro level (helpful if you’re running a program like the one Tim Floyd apparently ran in LA the past few years).

kevin o'neill

To recap the action at Arizona and USC the past two years:

  • O’Neill takes over for Olson on an interim basis, but then Lute stabs him in the back and comes back for a short period before eventually retiring. O’Neill goes to work for the Memphis Grizzlies for a season.
  • Arizona hires Russ Pennell to take over for Olson after O’Neill is let go.
  • Tim Floyd guides the Trojans to respectability before O.J. Mayo comes to town. The Trojans manage to make it back to the NCAA tournament the year after Mayo leaves.
  • Arizona decides not to renew Pennell’s contract and starts searching for big name to take over. They decide on Floyd, who briefly decides to take the job before changing his mind. Arizona eventually hires Xavier head coach Sean Miller.
  • Floyd resigns leaving USC scrambling to find a head coach as it loses multiple recruits who decide to go to other programs. USC gets turned down by several big names including Jamie Dixon and Reggie Theus before selecting O’Neill.

O’Neill led the Wildcats to a 19-15 record and yet another NCAA tournament bid in his single season in Tucson, but according to some sources had difficulty connecting with the Wildcat players. While that may be a problem at some programs, I’m sure that the administration at USC will appreciate having a coach of one of their two major programs who follows the rules. While we would normally consider USC one of the best positions in the country, O’Neill has his work cut out for him with recruits leaving in droves and NCAA sanctions on the horizon.

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05.26.09 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on May 26th, 2009

It’s been a while since we updated things (Wall to Kentucky), so let’s get caught up this evening…

  • RIP Wayman. You’ve undoubtedly heard the sad news about 44-year old Wayman Tisdale’s passing on May 15.  Obviously, we never met Tisdale, but everyone agrees that he was a person who touched the lives of many through his athletic and musical career.  ESPN takes a look back here, and CNNSI reflected on his legacy in the state of Oklahoma here.   Jeff Goodman tells a story about Tisdale following through on a promise to a budding jouralist (him).   Tisdale’s public memorial service was last Wednesday.
  • Smoke, then Fire.  We mentioned previously that it’s unfathomable to us that USC wouldn’t take Renardo Sidney, given their astonishing and proven ability to look the other way.  Maybe they knew that Rodney Guillory’s associate, Louis Johnson, was chirping like a parrot to anyone who will listen that he witnessed Tim Floyd handing Guillory a cool grand in return for the delivery of OJ Mayo.  Now Mayo’s talking to the feds about Guillory, and at least one writer thinks the whole darned ship is going up in flames.  The million-dollar question is whether the NCAA investigators have the sack to do it.  (our response: yes, but half-assed).  Update: Noel Johnson, a 2009 signee, left the program today, leaving Dwight Lewis, and um, Lil Romeo?
  • Transfers. Iowa’s Jeff Peterson (11 ppg) will transfer to Arkansas for the 2010-11 season; Indiana’s Nick Williams (9/5) will return to the South to play for Ole Miss (he was the Alabama POY in 2008); and, Clark Kellogg’s kid, Alex, will leave Providence for Ohio University (Bobcats, not Buckeyes) to play his senior season.  In corollary news, Oklahoma’s Juan Pattillo was shown the door by Jeff Capel for undisclosed team violations.
  • NBA Draft News.  Duke’s Gerald Henderson made it official and signed with an agent, forgoing his final year in Durham.  Xavier’s Derrick Brown, a borderline first-rounder, is highly unlikely to return to XU next season.  Meanwhile, word last week was that Florida’s Nick Calathes signed a contract for $1.1M/year (+ a home, car and tax credits) to play in Greece (where he holds dual citizenship), and Clemson’s Terrence Oglesby is leaving school after his sophomore year to pursue a pro career in Europe (he’s also a dual citizen with Norway).  Southern Miss’s Jeremy Wise will not return either.  BYU’s Jonathan Tavernari decided to wise up and will return to the Cougs for his senior season, as will Arkansas leading scorer Michael Washington.  FYI, now that the draft lottery is set (Clips win!), the new mocks are coming out.  Here’s’s Top 14.
  • Obligatory Kentucky News.  It’s out with the old and in with the new, as three scholarship at Kentucky are given the pink slip to make room for Calipari’s motherlode of talent.  The buzz is already loud for Kentucky as the preseason #1 next year, but we’re a little surprised Jodie Meeks hasn’t made his decision yet (he’s unlikely to move up to the first round).
  • Coaching News.  Illinois top man Bruce Weber got a $500k raise and a three-year extension based on his stellar work in Champaign last season.  Villanova’s Jay Wright talked to and then withdrew from the search for a new Philadelphia 76ers head man.  Wazzu’s new man Ken Bone signed with the school for seven years and $650k per year, according to school records.   Michigan’s John Beilein will chair the NCAA’s Ethics Comittee, featuring Johnny Dawkins, Jeff Capel and the omnipresent Dave Odom…  does anyone else find it odd that Beilein’s charge here is to clarify the rules as written, even though he used legal loopholes to get out of his stated buyout with WVU when he left for greener pastures?   Finally, here’s a rather-suspect list of the top ten coaches in America today – it omits Bill Self and John Calipari, which leads us to believe that the author did not watch the 2008 national championship game.
  • Other Errata.  CJ Henry is officially enrolled at Kansas and will get to play with his brother, super-wing Xavier Henry, next season in Lawrence.
  • Former Tennessee guard Ramar Smith (whom Coach Bruce Pearl kicked off the team in 2008) was arrested for robbery (the holy trinity: money, guns and marijuana) last week, and he’s currently awaiting trial.
  • Luke Winn gives us a glimpse at what Mississippi St. will look like next year (with John Riek and Renardo Sidney in the fold).
  • Please tell us that some irate Kentucky fan with rivers of money will buy these and burn them.
  • What WILL we do with those nefarious message board posters!?!?
  • Campbell University will rejoin the Big South (its former home until 1994), leaving the Atlantic Sun after the 2010-11 academic year.
  • The Big Sky is moving to a Friday/Saturday conference weekend model to save costs beginning next season.
  • This is a sad story, but we’re glad that the authorities found this Olympic champion safe and sound.
  • Well, sucks for them (next, USC?).
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O.J. Mayo: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Posted by nvr1983 on May 12th, 2009

After last year’s “Outside the Line” report, we figured that we wouldn’t hear much more about O.J. Mayo‘s time at USC (Reggie Bush‘s parents lived in a million dollar house and the NCAA didn’t seem to care). We expected that the biggest impact we would see was the reemergence of Taj Gibson and other Trojans who mysteriously disappeared during Mayo’s time in LA.


It turns out that Mayo might be leaving a more lasting impact on USC basketball than we expected as new reports indicate that Tim Floyd gave at least $1,000 to Rodney Guillory, one of Mayo’s handlers. [Ed. Note: Is Yahoo! Sports run by UCLA’s journalism school? First Bush and now Mayo?] Given the fact that the NCAA is already “investigating” the Trojans’ basketball and football programs this could be a major blow to the USC athletic department. The question is whether the NCAA will bring out the whip against one of its glamour programs.

The new allegations (ok, we sort of figured this was going on) raise several others questions:

  • Was Renardo Sidney (or his handlers) aware of this when he (they) made the decision to go to Mississippi State?
  • How much does Tim Floyd regret turning down that Arizona payday?
  • Do USC’s two 4-star recruits (Noel Johnson and Lamont Jones) have Memphis-style opt-out clauses in their LOIs? It probably wouldn’t work here, but I’m betting they are wishing they had waited this out.

Our guess is that this investigation will take at least a few years before the NCAA finally decides that they don’t have enough as information as the suits in Indianapolis are more concerned with hunting down college students using Facebook or other crimes against humanity. Actions that impact the integrity of the game? Not so important in Indianapolis. . .

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