Morning Five: 01.26.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on January 26th, 2012

  1. Gray is the way, so says the shoe company behemoth Nike, which on Wednesday unveiled nine new “platinum” uniform designs that will be worn by hand-selected schools that have won national championships as members of the Beaverton, Oregon, product line. Seven men’s schools — Arizona, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Syracuse — along with two women’s schools — Baylor and Connecticut — will sport the post-modern uniforms for one game later this season. These uniforms are certain to be a marketing hit in much the same way that some of their alt-football jerseys have been, most notably at Oregon. The template for each uniform is basically the same — a silver base with one primary accent color as trim — and you can see a few of the examples here: Kentucky, North Carolina, Syracuse. One interesting note is that each school has an aerographic star on the back of the jersey for each national title it has won. Kentucky’s, for example, has seven stars on its back. North Carolina has five, while Duke has four, and so on. Somebody needs to get Phil Knight on the phone immediately to explain to him the necessity of claiming Helms titles as national championships too. Right?
  2. Michael McKnight of checks in with an in-depth look at the point-shaving scandalthat enveloped the San Diego basketball program last year, and concludes that the evidence that the federal government thinks it has against former Torero star player Brandon Johnson and the other defendants might not be all that it’s cracked up to be. For one, the primary informant that the government relied upon for its information is not only marginally credible, but there may be major problems rendering his testimony admissible in a court of law anyway. Further, a review of the possible game that Johnson was most likely to have shaved points from — February 18, 2010 vs. St. Mary’s — shows that the evidence to support such a claim is less than persuasive. It’s an interesting read about a situation that made a very mild wave last year before everyone moved on to conference realignment, but one that SI has clearly done its work on in the interim.
  3. Seth Davis has been busy this week as we slip and slide into the final six weeks of the regular season. His always-fun mailbag column has made a re-appearance, and this time the topics ranged from the legitimacy of Missouri (written before the Tigers were RTC’d last night at Oklahoma State), the highest NCAA seed that Murray State can expect in March (we’d generally agree), the passion of Iowa’s Fran McCaffery (don’t you hate Iowa?), doubting San Diego State (and San Diego State?), and a few others (and everyone else?).
  4. Star treatment — it’s a fact of life in basketball at almost every level of the sport. From grade school to the highest of the professional leagues, defensive schemes are typically designed around stopping the other team’s best player. Mike DeCourcy takes a look at how such treatment has impacted an RTC favorite, Creighton’s Doug McDermott this season as game plans have adjusted to compensate for his ridiculous numbers (24/9 on 62%/50%/83% shooting). It’s true that his numbers have dropped a bit in conference play as the double-teams have come at him in earnest, but great players get their numbers regardless, and we have no doubt that McDermott will learn to adjust on the fly as he’s been so capable at doing throughout his short collegiate career.
  5. We mentioned this in yesterday’s M5, but the public unveiling of Gary Williams Court at Maryland occurred prior to last night’s game versus Duke at the Comcast Center. Even though the game ended up as yet another loss to the hated Blue Devils (1-10 in the last five seasons), the moments prior to the game were touching as Maryland fans received a final chance to cheer for and say goodbye to the coach that led the Terps to their greatest heights as a basketball program. Remember that Williams decided to retire after his star player last season, Jordan Williams, left school in early May to enter the NBA Draft. His many supporters and fans at the school had not had a chance until last night to give him a proper sendoff.

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Sammy Villegas’ Story of Woeful Shooting and Pointshaving

Posted by rtmsf on August 7th, 2008

If you remove the “ill” from Sammy Villegas’ name, you’re left with a moniker straight out of central casting for some cheesy 50s Sin City flick – Sammy Vegas.  You can easily picture Sammy sliding in and out of cocktail lounges up and down Fremont Street, looking for the next mark on his latest hustle.


Sammy Vegas’ Hustle Just Flew

Unfortunately for the University of Toledo and the game of college basketball in general, Sammy V(ill)egas may just be the latest black eye on a sport that periodically must deal with the ugly spectre of organized crime’s influence around the margins of the game.  In other words, another pointshaving scandal.  A little over a year ago, in reference to the Tim Donaghy officiating scandal in the NBA, we wrote the following in a piece called It Happens More Than We Think:

A recent statistical analysis from the Wharton School at Penn suggests that one percent (~500) of NCAA basketball games from 1989-2005 fell into an outlier that suggests gambling-related pointspread corruption.  This dovetails with a 2003 NCAA report that states that 1.1% of NCAA football players and 0.5% of NCAA basketball players accepted money to play poorly in a game (extrapolating from the sample suggests that this affects ~21 basketball and ~112 football players annually).   

Well, it appears that we now know two of those players from the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons.  Sammy Villegas has been indicted by federal prosecutors for conspiracy to influence sporting events by bribery, and all indications are that he is now cooperating with the government to help bring down the Mafiosos who were supporting this endeavor.  Villegas is also alleged to have paid an unnamed teammate to help him pointshave.  According to published reports of the indictment:

On Feb. 4, 2006, Villegas placed a call to a conspirator in Michigan at about 12:15 p.m. Villegas made another call to a conspirator in Michigan at 12:29 p.m. He made another at 3:57 p.m. On that same day, according to the indictment, Villegas is accused of intentionally missing two free throws in a game against “Central State University.” The box score for Feb. 4, 2006, however, shows that Toledo beat conference rival Central Michigan 78-62 that day.  The home game tipped off at 7 p.m. Villegas came off the bench to play 21 minutes, hitting his only shot of the game, a 3-pointer, and missing two free throws.

What’s odd about that game is that, according to RJ Bell at, the final Vegas spread on it was Toledo -15 points.  Despite Villegas’ alleged best (er, worst) efforts, Toledo ended up covering the spread by one point anyway, which would have blown a lot of money of some dangerous folks.  Since the indictment only mentions this one game, we don’t know how often or how deep Villegas got himself into this mess, but just looking at his statistics for those two seasons compared to the previous two, it is apparent that something was seriously weighing on his mind (or his wallet).

As you can see, his numbers during his last two years are down across the board, which is unusual for an upperclass player who isn’t injured or recruited over.  Shooting is precipitously worse in every area, and minutes, scoring and rebounding are also down, as expected.  What really caught our eye, though was Villegas’ assist numbers.  He’d shown a decent propensity for finding open teammates his first two seasons, but in his last two he hardly ever passed the ball to a teammate in a scoring position.  Is this circumstantial evidence that he was wilfully not seeing those openings like he was?  We think so.  The USAO for the E.D.Mich. can send it payment to us COD.   

For what it’s worth, his coach doesn’t believe the accusations.   

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