Morning Five: 09.24.14 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on September 24th, 2014

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  1. It wouldn’t be September (or August; or July; or any month, really) without basketball drama in the Bluegrass State, as the hoops hotbed that never rests continues to churn out storylines to keep the residents buzzing and the links clicked. The latest and greatest kerfuffle involved a Louisville Courier-Journal story by Tim Sullivan late last week that analyzed the hyper-competitive world of recruiting at the most elite programs — including, of course, Kentucky — and tying it back to some of the commentary among John Calipari, Jim Boeheim and others weighing in on Mike Krzyzewski’s perceived recruiting advantage as the head coach of Team USA. The firestorm that ensued among social media users and the rest didn’t stem from the article itself, though; rather, it was the accompanying photo of a “crybaby” hybrid Calipari/infant image that set the world ablaze. On Monday, the newspaper published an apology from Executive Editor Neil Budde, effectively stating that their internal editorial controls should have, but didn’t, catch the “mistake.” Was it a mistake, or was it calculated clickbait meant to drive readers to the website (even though the picture only made it into print editions)? Only a few will know the answer to that, but Calipari tweeted that he accepted the apology, putting a tidy bow on the entire proceeding until the next blow-up (probably early next week, if our timing is right).
  2. Since we’re on the topic of #BBN, there were a lot of Kentucky fans feeling a little punchy over the weekend when it was reported that former Wildcat star and current media personality, Rex Chapman, had been arrested in Arizona for allegedly shoplifting over $14,000 worth of Apple electronics and fencing them through pawn shops in the area. The day-by-day details of the scheme are troubling, especially for someone who made over $22 million during his playing days and seemed to be doing well working as a broadcaster for Turner Sports as recently as April. His notorious pre-title game tweet about John Calipari supposedly taking the Los Angeles Lakers job (#donedeal), however, had left a bad taste in the mouth of many Wildcats’ fans, and although his 14 felony counts of stealing headphones and the like do not rise to the level of bad behavior from athletes in the news lately, there was a vocal minority who felt some karmic retribution had been had.
  3. The NCAA will host the Final Four in Indianapolis next April and in Houston (ugh) again in 2016, but dates beyond the next two years have yet to be set. One of the candidates vying for position among the crowd is Glendale’s University of Phoenix Stadium, home of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals and the Fiesta Bowl, as well as the future site of the 2015 Super Bowl and the 2016 college football national championship game. Glendale is part of the Phoenix metropolitan area — although the stadium is located 15 miles northwest of downtown — and NCAA officials are spending time there this week to scope out the quality of the city’s bid for one of the 2017, 2019 or 2020 Final Fours. Given that Phoenix has proven capable of handling other high-profile sporting events, this should be a no-brainer, and it would nice for the NCAA to have its marquee event on the West Coast once again (the last Final Four west of Texas was in 1995 in Seattle).
  4. Speaking of the NCAA, president Mark Emmert recently addressed the issue of domestic violence among student-athletes in light of the NFL’s Ray Rice fiasco, and although he took the easy way out by punting back to the schools, it was also the right call. With schools of all shapes and sizes scattered through all 50 states (and correspondingly, 50 different penal codes), it would be exceptionally difficult for the NCAA to try to police something like this. And the NCAA simply isn’t any good at equitable justice anyway. Emmert is correct — other than to say that the organization strongly opposes domestic violence of any kind and encourages schools to educate its players about the dangers, they should pretty much stay out of it.
  5. Well, this is just weird. Maryland’s Dez Wells Instagrammed and tweeted out a picture of himself playing basketball at Xavier that a friend of his found in an anatomy textbook called “Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise.” In a post-O’Bannon environment where the public tide has clearly shifted to support of revenue-sport players sharing a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie that their talents create, a stock photo of Wells skying for a dunk in an obscure textbook seems like relatively small potatoes. Still, it’s just one more example of athletes like Wells getting the short end of the stick when it comes to the fairness of use of their likenesses. As Wells said through social media, #ShowMeTheMoney.
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ATB: Syracuse Survives, OSU Recovers, and Upset City in the West…

Posted by EJacoby on March 23rd, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. Half of our Elite Eight teams are set, with the East and West regions completing their semifinal matchups on Thursday night. The East Region in Boston finished as expected, with chalk advancing to the Elite Eight in the form of Syracuse and Ohio State for what should be a fantastic regional final on Saturday. But the story in Phoenix was much different, as the favored #1 and #3 seeds went down in games that were dominated by the lower seeds. Only one game on the night finished in single digits but there was plenty of exciting basketball that took place. And the one game that was a close one happened to be one of the Big Dance’s best. Let’s break it down… 

Your Watercooler Moment. Jordan Taylor’s Shot Falls Short, #1 Syracuse Survives.

Wisconsin is Devastated After Coming so Close Against Syracuse (Getty Images/J. Rogash)

Our first game of the night was a classic, one that featured two very different teams that both executed at an extremely high level offensively. Four-seed Wisconsin brought its patented ball-control, super-slow tempo game plan into Boston with hopes of knocking off top-seeded Syracuse with a methodical approach, good shooting, and strong collective defense. But no defense could stop what either team was bringing to the table in this one. The Badgers executed their plan offensively, hitting an amazing 14-27 from three-point range in a wonderful display of outside shooting that would usually be enough for a victory. But the Orange were just as strong on the other end, converting 55.1% of their field goals with easy baskets in the paint from a variety of one-on-one scorers. The two teams combined for just 12 turnovers and this game came down to the very last shot, one that fell short on a long three-point attempt from Jordan Taylor on a broken offensive play. Despite the fairly low 64-63 final score, the game featured crisp execution throughout its entirety. Syracuse was just one possession better, thanks to its easy offense earned through superior athleticism and playmaking in the half court. It’s on to the Elite Eight for the Orange!

Also Worth Chatting About. The First #1-Seed to Fall are Tom Izzo’s Spartans.

Everyone knows that March is Michigan State’s month. Tom Izzo has brought the Spartans to six Final Fours in his tenure, and he had never been knocked out of the NCAA Tournament before the final weekend when his team was a #1 seed. That came to an end on Thursday, when Michigan State was outplayed from the start by Rick Pitino’s #4 Louisville Cardinals. The Spartans racked up more turnovers (15) than made field goals (14) while shooting 28.6% from the field. Louisville was too athletic and strong defensively, essentially beating Michigan State at its own game. The Cardinals won the battle on the boards, in the turnover margin, and from behind the arc (they shot 9-23 compared to 5-21 for MSU). Gorgui Dieng racked up seven blocks and three steals to go along with nine rebounds in an elite defensive performance, and Peyton Siva ran the offense well with nine assists. Izzo’s March mystique could not get his players to put the ball in the basket, and our first #1 seed finally goes down.

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Who Says the South Only Cares About Football?

Posted by rtmsf on September 21st, 2009

The NCAA is starting to scare us a little bit with the news today that the Final Four will be held in warm-weather venues from 2011-13.  Surely they don’t expect us to stay in our rooms during the interminable wait from F4 Saturday night to Monday night’s championship.  Don’t they know that basketball is a cold-weather sport?  That you should see your breath as you huddle outside the arena waiting to get inside, where the scents of metallic air ducts mix with wet clothing and hot dogs in an olfactory orgy of late winter sensations?    Where’s my Minneapolis, my Detroit, my St. Louis?  No, now we’ll actually be forced to enjoy some early April outdoor air in three fun cities where 70s and 80s (before the oppresssive summer humidity hits) are common that time of year.  This means that you, the readers of this site, will pay for our folly.  We’re not happy with you, NCAA. 

The 2010 Final Four is in Indianapolis, IN.  Here’s the list for the next four years…  make your travel plans now.

Which Venue Will You Attend?  (photo credit: NCAA.org)
Which Venue Will You Attend? (photo credit: NCAA.org)

2010 NCAA Tournament

  • F4 – Indianapolis, IN
  • Regionals - Syracuse, NY (East); Houston, TX (South); St. Louis, MO (Midwest); Salt Lake City, UT (West).
  • Sub-Regionals – Providence, RI; Buffalo, NY; Jacksonville, FL; New Orleans, LA; Oklahoma City, OK; Milwaukee, WI; San Jose, CA; Spokane, WA.

2011 NCAA Tournament

  • F4 – Houston, TX
  • Regionals - Newark, NJ (East); New Orleans, LA (South); San Antonio, TX (Southwest); Anaheim, CA (West).
  • Sub-Regionals – Tulsa, OK; Charlotte, NC; Chicago, IL; Cleveland, OH; Denver, CO; Tampa, FL; Tucson, AZ; Washington, DC.

2012 NCAA Tournament

  • F4 – New Orleans, LA
  • Regionals - Boston, MA (East); Atlanta, GA (South); St. Louis, MO (Midwest); Phoenix, AZ (West).
  • Sub-Regionals – Albuquerque, NM; Columbus, OH; Greensboro, NC; Louisville, KY; Nashville, TN; Omaha, NE; Pittsburgh, PA; Portland, OR.

2013 NCAA Tournament

  • F4 – Atlanta, GA
  • Regionals - TBD (East); Arlington, TX (South); Indianapolis, IN (Midwest); Los Angeles, CA (West).
  • Sub-Regionals – Dayton, OH; Auburn Hills, MI; Lexington, KY; Salt Lake City, UT; San Jose, CA; Austin, TX; Kansas City, MO; Philadelphia, PA.

A few quick reflections on the next four years of March Madness venues:

  • ACC fans who bellow from the mountaintops that Duke and UNC always “get to play at home” in the first two rounds (we’re also guilty of this) and/or the regionals won’t have much to complain about the next four Tourneys.  There are two subregional sites (Charlotte in 2011; Greensboro in 2012) within the friendly confines of North Carolina, but a grand total of zero regionals and certainly not a F4. 
  • On the flip side, the West Regional looks EXTREMELY friendly to a certain blue/gold team from SoCal, with locations in Anaheim in 2011 (34 miles), Phoenix in 2012 (368 miles) and downtown LA in 2013 (11 miles).  Egads. 
  • We can’t recall the last time an NCAA Tournament game was in Louisville, and we always wondered why Freedom Hall stopped doing it.  Good to see the River City back on the list with its planned new 22k-seat arena. 
  • What’s with the NCAA renaming a region the “Southwest” Regional for one year only (San Antonio: 2011)?  Regardless of that, you can’t tell us that Rick Barnes hasn’t already circled the Tulsa/San Antonio/Houston pathway in his Iphone calendar as something to shoot for. 
  • Newark (2011 East Regional), really?  Looks like Cory Booker’s doing better than we thought there. 
  • Other than that, mostly the usual suspects.  We all know that it doesn’t really matter where the games are played – they’ll be exciting regardless.
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06.19.08 Fast Breaks

Posted by nvr1983 on June 19th, 2008

Along with all the news/hype surrounding decisions on whether or not to enter the NBA Draft, there are other college basketball headlines:

  • Title IX rears its ugly head in a different form than we are used to seeing. The NCAA handed down a 2-year probation sentence to Southeast Missouri. The more interesting thing about it is that it seems like more serious violations came from the women’s program. Are teams really cheating in women’s college basketball?
  • Ten cities have submitted their names for the 2012-2016 Final 4. The list seems pretty standard with the exception of Phoenix (never hosted one before) and Arlington-Dallas-Fort Worth (couldn’t they just pick one?).
  • In news that probably falls under the “Who?” category, Tennessee Volunteer reserve Ryan Childress recently underwent successful knee surgery. We wonder how Bruce Pearl will replace his 2.3 PPG and 2.4 RPG if Childress has to miss any time.
  • Apparently, Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt was quite animated during the most recent Knight Commission. While I agree with some of what he said, I think the point about concerns regarding maintaining eligibility as a reason that many athletes don’t take higher level classes is ridiculous. I don’t think anybody who is taking Theoretical Physics is going to be worried about meeting a minimum GPA. My favorite part of the article is Len Elmore blaming the straight to NBA trend as the reason why the Lebron James has “no mid-range game”. Does anybody think Lebron wouldn’t have just bulldozed his way to the basket if he had stayed in college for 4 years?
  • It’s really too bad that Kansas guard Sherron Collins isn’t going pro – next year could be very difficult for him on the road in the Big 12 after he lost a civil lawsuit for allegedly “exposing himself and rubbing against [a woman] despite being told repeatedly to stop.”  Whattayagot Mizzou?
  • Air Force head man Jeff Reynolds earned a five-year extension today after his scintillating 16-14 first season.  To be fair, last year was one of the best first seasons from a new coach in the history of AFA’s program.
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