Big East M5: 01.03.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on January 3rd, 2013

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  1. With Syracuse’s 78-53 takedown of Rutgers at the Carrier Dome last night, Jim Boeheim took sole ownership of second place on the Division I all-time wins list with 903 victories, passing Bob Knight. These first few months of the season have been eventful for Boeheim, whose ascent up this list has been the focus of tremendous media attention and occasional scrutiny this season. In weighing in on Boeheim’s ranking among the greatest coaches of all-time, Rob Dauster notes the affect that a single Keith Smart jumper has had on Boeheim’s perception. If that shot doesn’t fall, Boeheim is two wins ahead of Knight, has the same number of national titles (two) as the man who many consider the greatest game coach of all-time, and many writers have a lot less material come March.
  2. USF and UCF have played twice this season, splitting two contests that foreshadow what may develop into a nice rivalry for whatever the future of the Big East holds. Tampa Bay Online‘s Joey Johnston argues that the rivalry between the two schools could become a staple for the new look Big East, or whichever conference the two schools find themselves attached to in the future. Johnston believes that the natural rivalry and the high number of television sets in the I-4 corridor makes the two schools very attractive. Let the lobbying begin.
  3. Buzz Williams48-hour suspension from the Marquette basketball team has now ended, and the fiery coach will rejoin the team in preparation for Georgetown. Williams’ suspension stemmed from assistant coach Scott Monarch giving apparel and rides to a Golden Eagles recruit. Monarch, a close friend of Williams, was summarily fired. Williams was not found to have had any knowledge of the violations, but he took the school-sanctioned leave as the program is ultimately his responsibility. Marquette defeated UConn in overtime during Williams’ absence from the team.
  4. Pittsburgh‘s two losses to Michigan and Cincinnati had a very similar feel to them, and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette‘s Ray Fittipaldo outlines three major factors that hurt the Panthers in both games: a lack of rebounding in the second half, especially from the center position; struggles against talented, aggressive guards on the perimeter; and, opposing teams limiting the Panthers’ transition game.  If Pitt can’t solve these issues soon, the team will have major struggles in league play. Syracuse has a strong interior presence, Louisville has excellent high-energy guard play, and Georgetown will absolutely look to control the game’s tempo, just to name three teams who will look to take advantage of these weaknesses.
  5. Syracuse.com‘s Mike Waters was asked about his all-time Big East team in his weekly mailbag. This is a fun exercise that I’m sure will come up on many sites and blogs this year, especially around Big East Tournament time. Waters weighs in on a number of Big East greats before settling on a strong starting five consisting of Sherman Douglas, Ray Allen, Chris Mullin, Derrick Coleman, and Patrick Ewing.  When a conference could have a second team of Allen Iverson, Kerry Kittles, Carmelo Anthony, Donyell Marshall, and Alonzo Mourning, you know that they’ve been doing something right for a very long time.
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NCAA Legislation Proposing New Recruiting Freedoms Will Create More Inequality

Posted by Chris Johnson on August 28th, 2012

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

Every year the NCAA spends copious amounts of time monitoring secondary recruiting violations and doling out corresponding punishments to guilty programs. There are so many menial rule specifications within the organization’s 400-page rulebook and so many different ways to violate those specifications that recruiting has become a walking-on-eggshells process for most programs, with the fear of breaching protocol clouding every conversation, letter and official visit. This is a huge burden for coaches who, more than anything else, are just trying to run their teams in the most successful way possible without getting hung up in minor NCAA rule violations. When basic conversation between coach and prospect carries punitive repercussions, the formula needs wholesale upgrading. The angst and dismay over minor violations isn’t just a coach-player phenomenon. It affects the NCAA and the considerable investigatory work it must do to ensure its legislative scruples are enforced properly. There is a constant game played between coaches unwittingly violating protocol and the NCAA staff policing and dispensing punishment for those violations. Neither side is happy with their current state and yet the cumbersome violation-punishment cycle continues undeterred.

The proposed rule could radically alter the way major programs recruit players, particularly in football and men’s basketball (Photo credit: Darron Cummings/AP Photo).

The violations come in different forms, from impermissible contact with prospects to an overflow of text messages to providing bagels with cream cheese. Chief among NCAA recruiting no-no’s is the illegal use of program personnel outside of the designated coaching circle to contact prospective recruits. Only head coaches and assistant coaches can seek out, evaluate, and contact prospects. It’s a hard-line rule with severe implications: Very few members of each team’s staff are legally permitted to participate in the year-round recruiting process. As the distinction between coach and staff blurs with growing program personnel groups and the recruiting process demands a larger base of scouting resources, monitoring these sorts of violations has become an extremely frustrating process. The NCAA is downright exhausted, and it’s not hard to see why. A rule change is in the works to relieve the violation police work, according to Steve Yanda of the Washington Post, who on Saturday reported that the NCAA Rules Working Group has endorsed legislation that would eliminate the rule limiting recruiting matters to head and assistant coaches. The rule – which, if voted into approval, could go into effect as early as August 2013 – would allow “staff members now known as directors of operations or directors of player personnel to watch film of a prospect or to contact a prospect’s coach or guardian.” The man-to-man aspect of recruiting – official and unofficial campus visits, attending tournaments and events, and so on – would still be off-limits to anyone not considered by job title a head or assistant coach.

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Morning Five: 08.27.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 27th, 2012

  1. Worrisome news was released on Friday from Saint Louis University when the school announced that its head coach, Rick Majerus, will be taking a medically-related leave of absence next season, leaving top assistant coach Jim Crews in charge. According to SLU, Majerus is currently hospitalized in California “undergoing evaluation and treatment for an ongoing heart condition.” As we wrote after the news was released, this is the sort of thing that could mark  a turning point in the longtime head coach’s professional career. Majerus is well-known as a guy whom you can only keep out of the gym by padlocking its doors, so it’s no joke that he’s choosing to give up the thing he loves most in order to take care of his health. We wish him nothing but the best on this latest twist in his journey, and certainly hope that even if he never coaches another minute of college basketball, he has a number of productive and fulfilling years still ahead of him. As for his Billiken program, with the core of a Round of 32 team returning to St. Louis, Andy Glockner writes that Crews will inherit a squad with both significant expectations and the added specter of Majerus’ health hanging over the team. Crews had some success at Evansville a decade or more ago, but there is reason to question whether he’s up to the task of running what is undoubtedly a team with Top 25 talent.
  2. The other big news on Friday was the announcement from Marquette that assistant coach Scott Monarch had been dismissed and that head coach Buzz Williams will suffer a self-imposed one-game suspension for what are admittedly rather mild recruiting transgressions — Monarch gave team gear and transportation to an unnamed recruit. To be clear, there is no evidence that Williams himself knew about the illegal recruiting benefits — his suspension derives from the coach’s duty to monitor staff compliance. According to the Marquette athletic director, Larry Williams, Monarch’s mistakes became compounded when he allegedly lied about them during the school’s internal investigation — had he been truthful from the beginning, he’d probably still be employed at MU today. This shows once again that the old adage is almost always true — the cover-up is more damaging than the underlying crime. Maybe someday someone will actually find themselves in such a situation and take this sage advice — it might end up saving his job.
  3. In recent days, the conviction of Oklahoma State forward Darrell Williams for allegedly sexually assaulting two female students at a party in December two years ago has come under fire by some in the non-sports national media. In the especially tense arena of national racial politics, a case like Williams’ where a black man was accused of heinous felonies by two white women and convicted by a nearly all-white jury is bound to raise some eyebrows. On Friday, an Oklahoma judge delayed Williams’ sentencing hearing on those convictions, citing a defense motion that new and possibly exculpatory evidence has been found that could force the judge to throw out the convictions and order a new trial. There’s no way of knowing whether the claim of new evidence has any merit, but with Jesse Jackson, Jr., in town and many commentators outside the sporting realm taking a curious interest in this case, it will be very interesting to watch how this unfolds.
  4. The NCAA made its ruling on former Connecticut and current UNLV forward Roscoe Smith‘s transfer waiver request on Friday, and the decision to deny the waiver — meaning Smith will become eligible in 2013-14 — could be a blessing in disguise for both the Runnin’ Rebels and Smith himself. UNLV already boasts a loaded lineup next season and the 6’8″ big man, who has two years of eligibility remaining, would be well  situated to slide into a starting spot in the frontcourt most likely vacated after Mike Moser’s presumptive last season as a collegian. Smith, as you recall, was a frequent starter on the 2011 UConn championship team (averaging 6/5 in 25 MPG), but like many of his Husky teammates, backslid a bit in his sophomore season (5/3 in 18 MPG). Still, there’s no questioning his talent when bought in and completely focused, so Dave Rice’s team will look forward to Smith’s leadership and skill in what they hope are the immediate years following UNLV’s first Final Four run in two decades.
  5. UNLV’s Smith may not see the court for another year, but another offseason transfer, Memphis’ Charles Carmouche, has enrolled at LSU and will join the Tigers for his senior year next season. This is actually Carmouche’s third transfer — the wiry guard from New Orleans began his career at hometown University of New Orleans, but decided to transfer upriver to Memphis when it appeared that UNO would downgrade from Division I athletics. After a solid junior season at UM in 2010-11, though, Carmouche’s senior season was derailed because of problems with his knees. Still, despite receiving medical clearance in January, he chose to not suit up again, and after graduating he was then free to use the grad-transfer loophole to go anywhere who would take him. Enter LSU, where new head coach Johnny Jones will welcome the scoring punch that Carmouche brings to Baton Rouge. It’s been a wild and woolly ride for Carmouche over the past four years, but we’re guessing that he’ll need to make the most of this final season, as his eligibility is unlikely to extend to yet another transfer destination.
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Morning Five: 08.23.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2012

  1. It seems like all we talk about in these M5s are player eligibility issues, but something new is released almost every day. The latest release involves the other half of the top two players in the incoming freshman class (depending on whom you ask). With UCLA”s Shabazz Muhammad sitting in Westwood yesterday as his team flew off to China without him, SI.com‘s Pete Thamel published a piece revealing that the NCAA is taking a closer look at the recruitment of Kentucky big man Nerlens Noel, visiting his former high school for the second time in three months to inquire about some of the associations he has with various prep basketball hangers-on, and specifically, how Noel paid for some of his unofficial recruiting visits. As expected, Kentucky fans have been quick to play the victimization card by their media public enemy #1, Thamel, but the truth of the matter is that this is becoming NCAA standard operating procedure for elite recruits in today’s environment. Just this offseason, Noel, Muhammad, Providence’s Ricardo Ledo and NC State’s Rodney Purvis have been more carefully vetted by the NCAA, and in the era of players frequently jumping high schools, more and more powerful AAU basketball, and vast coteries of agents and runners looking for a piece of the action, these careful evaluations of elite recruits is going to continue.
  2. It was therefore superb timing on CBSSports.com to release another of their Critical Coaches series Wednesday asking a question along these lines. They asked their coaching contacts which player’s recruitment from the last decade was perceived (there’s that word again) to have been the dirtiest? Recall that a couple of weeks ago, John Calipari, Scott Drew and Ben Howland were perceived to be the biggest cheaters in the sport — among the group of players named in this follow-up question, the top four named and six of the top 10 were recruits under either Calipari or Howland. Interestingly, none of Drew’s guys — from Quincy Miller to Isaiah Austin to Perry Jones — were named in this poll. But boy, both Calipari and Howland’s guys sure were — the top four: Shabazz Muhammad, Anthony Davis, John Wall, and Kyle Anderson. The next two on the list? OJ Mayo and Derrick Rose — two players who, you know, were proven to have committed serious violations during their recruitments. A number of other players received votes but it’s clear that, with nine of the 24 players named (Terrence Jones, DeMarcus Cousins, Enes Kanter, and J’Mison Morgan were also named), the Kentucky and UCLA head coaches are perceived to be playing a different game than everyone else.
  3. Sigh… While on the subject of the shamelessness of some of the questions in this Critical Coaches series, would it be too much to ask the CBSSports.com gentlemen — all of whom are good and capable dudes — to follow up with some of the hundreds of coaching contacts they have and do the proper journalistic legwork to prove (or disprove) these perceptions? If Shabazz Muhammad’s recruitment is perceived to be the dirtiest in the last 10 years of college basketball (or Anthony Davis’… or John Wall’s… or Kyle Anderson’s… you get the point), how about spending some of that energy nailing the people responsible; or, alternatively, clearing those mentioned from that perception? It all just feels a bit too US Weekly, which as John Clay suggests, is fine if that’s what the site wants to be — but unlike most college basketball portals, that group has the resources, the time, and quite clearly the contacts to find out where the bodies are buried. Instead of pure sensationalism, how about digging up a few bones here and there along the way?
  4. Let’s continue a theme with today’s M5 by mentioning that UNC has “quietly” moved its director of academic support services for athletes into another position at the university. Specifically, Robert Mercer, the department’s leader for 10 years, has become a “special assistant for operations” at the school’s Johnston Center for Academic Excellence (where everyone who wants an A, gets an A!). Sorry. UNC of course went to great pains to lay blame at the feet of Mercer for the problems that occurred under his watch, but it’s clear to anyone watching that he’s falling on the sword in return for an opportunity to keep his job (current salary: $81,900 + bennies). One note on this story — outside of Tobacco Road, it’s not well-known just how much vitriol exists between NC State and North Carolina. Take a read at some of the 15 pages of user comments under this Raleigh News & Observer article, and you’ll understand very quickly that the hatred between those two fan bases runs very, very deep.
  5. Back to basketball. One of the best ongoing columns if you’re looking for insightful information about the sport is Mike DeCourcy‘s Starting Five piece. If you can get past DeCourcy’s floating head at the top of each article, it’s really an excellent read, and this week was no different. He doesn’t get cute with it, but the insight is that the questions he answers are often a step or two beyond the typical “how do you see XYZ next year?” type. In this installment, he discusses the paucity of elite point guards in college basketball, Keith Clanton’s loyalty to UCF, and the possible upside for a number of non-power conference teams, among other things. There are few regular offseason columns that we’d describe as must-reads, but DeCourcy’s Q&A is definitely worth a few of your minutes each week.
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Tim Floyd & Henry Bibby Save the Day!

Posted by rtmsf on November 5th, 2009

The first thing we thought (and most anyone would think) when we heard last night that a Youtube video was circulating (h/t Rome is Burning) involving Tim Floyd and a fight at a southern California casino was “uh-oh.”  These things almost never turn out helping one’s reputation, and given the summer that Floyd endured (turning down the Arizona job, only to get forced out at USC after recruiting improprieties resurfaced), we placed both hands over our eyes and peeked through to see just what kind of horrible offense Floyd may have committed to further sully his rep.  But like a 1000-to-1 shot coming in on the slots, the video shocks you, but it does so not with the horror of watching coaches behaving badly, but rather by showing a random act of sanity and kindness that is often unseen in the world of gotcha-videos taken with cell phones and digital cameras.  Watch for yourself.

There’s Tim Floyd acting as peacemaker, and another former USC coach,  Henry Bibby (who knew they were buds?), coming out of nowhere to save his boy from getting whacked like the moles in the carnival fun house game.    Mark this down – guaranteed.   This video will enter some random AD’s mind in the next couple of years when he’s deciding whether to hire the much-maligned Floyd, and despite all of the baggage he carries with respect to recruiting, he’ll be reminded that Floyd is at heart a pretty good guy and decide to give him another chance. 

Memo to Kelvin Sampson – you might want to have a camera crew start following you around as you help little old ladies cross the street. 

 

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Would the Last IU Player Lock Up Assembly Hall? Thanks.

Posted by rtmsf on June 11th, 2008

We were trolling through some of the Indiana blogs yesterday to see how things were going in red-state flyover land the heartland, and although there was some palpable anger still directed at Kelvin Sampson for the shenanigans he pulled in Bloomington during his tenure, it seemed as if most of their fans were ready to move on with the new Tom Crean regime and their headline (only?) returning player,  sophomore guard Jordan Crawford (9/3 last year).  Funny, plans.  On May 28, The Hoosier Scoop wrote about Crawford (paraphrasing Crean):

Crean said that there is no change in Jordan Crawford’s status. Crawford, who will be the only returning player who came to IU on scholarship, is back in Detroit right now and will not attend summer school. “He doesn’t need to, and I think it’s good for him to get home,” Crean said. “It’s important to remember that those guys have been through a whole lot.”

Crawford Didn’t Want to Carry the IU Torch (photo credit:  Bloomington Herald-Times)

Apparently Crawford liked home a little better than Bloomington.  Today he became the sixth Indiana player to leave the program in the wake of the Kelvin Sanctions fiasco – joining Eric Gordon (NBA), Armon Bassett, DeAndre Thomas, Jamarcus Ellis, AJ Ratliff and Eli Holman as players going elsewhere next year.  As far as we can tell, this leaves only little-used (11 mpg) senior forward Kyle Taber as the only scholarship player returning next season. 

Witness the pain emanating from the most excellent IU blog, Inside the Hall:

Now, please excuse me. I’m going to go ignore the fact that any of this ever happened. If you close your eyes so hard you see stars, breathe deeply, and hit yourself in the head with a ball peen hammer forty or fifty times, it’s like our team is still really good. And there are pretty colors everywhere! I highly recommend it.

Ouch.  This complete demolition of a program with the status of Indiana represents a nearly unprecedented situation in college basketball history.  Sure, Tulane and Baylor blew up their programs based on scandals (point-shaving, and well, murder), but the closest thing we can remember that compares to what Tom Crean will face next year is Rick Pitino’s first year (1989-90) at Kentucky in the wake of several major recruiting violations.  Pitino had several scholarship players returning including two all-SEC honorees, however, and four of the younger players ended up with their names in the rafters.  Still, it took five years for the Wildcats to get back to the F4.  We have trouble seeing Kyle Taber leading any sort of renaissance at IU – it could take many more than five years before this sinking ship at Indiana is righted again.

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10.19.07 Fast Breaks

Posted by rtmsf on October 19th, 2007

More news and notes from a busy first week of practice.

  • Everyone is piling on Kelvin Sampson for his phone indiscretions.  AOL Fanhouse looks into the poor cell phone service excuse, while DeCourcy takes shots at IU’s compliance office.  One blogger wrote an open letter to Kelvin Sampson asking him to just go away.  Yesterday Sampson resisted talking about the issue at his press conference.
  • Speaking of Indiana coaches causing trouble, the NCAA instituted a point of emphasis this year on abusive behavior by coaches on the sideline.   M2M has the definitive take on this.
  • More IU-related content:  Bob Knight felt the need to talk about the MLB playoffs during his presser this week.
  • Basketball Prospectus is up and running (woohoo!) – the first post that captured our attention was this one on what makes an assist an assist?
  • MJ expects to watch his son sit the bench play at least once this year in Champaign.
  • On Monday it was official that Mike Hopkins would succeed Jim Boeheim at Syracuse upon his retirement; by Tuesday, it wasn’t official anymore.
  • So what really went down in practice between OJ Mayo and Daniel Hackett?  Was it an errant ‘bow or a flat-out haymaker to the schnozz?
  • One of the underrated coaches at an underrated program, Randy Bennett at St. Mary’s got a two-year extension (through 2013). 
  • Katz dissects the budding UCLA-USC rivalry, comparing it to UNC-Duke.  What he fails to mention is that SoCallers don’t care about college hoops nearly as much as the NCers.  That’s a Laker area, through and through.
  • Injuries, Suspensions, etc.
    • Is Brook Lopez planning on playing this year?  He’s already out for the first nine games – now he’s indefinitely suspended for breaking team rules, which means he can’t even practice. 
    • Wisconsin starter Michael Flowers is going on a leave of absence for the cryptic reason of ”medical problems.” 
    • Notre Dame super-soph Luke Harongody will miss 3-6 weeks with damage to his thumb ligaments. 
    • Mizzou senior forward Darryl Butterfield was arrested for domestic assault and suspended indefinitely by the team.
    • Remember our pal Frank Tolbert?  The good state of Alabama did not agree with local prosecutors that Tolbert was drunk while stealing driving his SUV away from the towing lot.  He is not expected to miss any games.
    • A bunch of UK players are injured in various ways.  Oh, and Alex Legion isn’t hurt, but his mom is some kind of prophet.     
  • And more preseason chatter from various sources.
    • MSNBC has its preseason top 25 out (UNC #1).
    • Luke Winn spent the week slurping up whatever they’re selling in the RTP these days. 
    • Meanwhile, Jeff Goodman did a Tennessee three-step – Memphis, Vandy & UT
    • SEC:TGTBTD has it’s all-SEC teams ready – 3d Team, 2d Team, 1st Team (Chris Lofton, Jamont Gordon, Patrick Beverly, Richard Hendrix, Shan Foster).
    • Gary Parrish has his all-american teams + 10 ready (we like his balls to put Derrick Rose on the first team).   
    • Big 12 talk – apparently K-State is loading up on players, while KU is striking out on recruiting.  Yahoo asks if the Big 12 will ever win a title again, and oh yeah, Tom Osborne is the new AD at Nebraska.
    • Will Florida even make the NCAA Tourney this year?  Billy D. isn’t sure. 
    • Can UConn’s AJ Price stay away from the computer lab this year?  Jim Calhoun thinks he can. 
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Kelvin Sanctions – Should IU be Worried?

Posted by rtmsf on October 15th, 2007

Lost amidst all the Midnight Madness celebrations this weekend was news from Indiana that head coach Kelvin Sanctions Sampson was caught violating the terms of his agreement with the NCAA related to recruiting violations while he was at Oklahoma.  Citing “an environment of deliberate noncompliance” in May 2006, the NCAA Infractions Committee placed several restrictions on Sampson for making excessive phone calls to recruits.   One of the key added restrictions was that Sampson was not allowed to initiate phone calls to recruits or be present when a staff member made such calls for a year hence.  The meat:

Therefore, his current employing institution shall, pursuant to the provisions of NCAA Bylaw 19.5.2.2 (l), show cause why it should not be penalized if it does not prohibit the former head coach, for a period of one year from the date of the release of this report (May 25, 2006 through May 24, 2007), from 1) making any phone calls that relate in any way to recruiting or being present when members of his staff make such calls; and 2) engaging in any off-campus recruiting activities.

So what does he do?  He makes phone calls to recruits, of course. 

Kelvin Sampson IU

IU athletic director Rick Greenspan said a two-month review determined that on approximately 10 occasions, an assistant coach initiated three-way calls that connected Sampson into an on-going recruiting conversation with prospective student-athletes, their parents or coaches.

Indiana, fearing that the NCAA would come down hard on the program for such an egregious violation of noncompliance by their coach, handed out its own punishment to Sampson this weekend.  As a result, Sampson will not receive his scheduled $500k raise this season and the team will lose a scholarship for the 2008-09 campaign (nevermind that IU recruit Bud Mackey effectively surrendered his scholarship back to IU a couple of weeks ago).  The assistant coach who initiated the calls will also give up his raise and not be allowed to recruit away from campus.  Here’s Sampson’s explanation:

All of the calls were kids that were calling me. Our coaches did a great job in telling kids that ‘Coach can’t you call you because of the sanctions so will you call him?’ And that’s what we did. I found out about the three-way calls after they looked at the records. They saw that there had been three-way calls made and found out that Rob (Senderoff) had, after the kid had called me and tried to reach me on my cell phone, they would call coach Senderoff back and say ‘Coach Sampson was unavailable. I tried him on his cellphone.’ So what Rob was doing was patching the calls into me, and I was getting them not knowing that Rob had made the connection. But when I answered the phone in these situations, the kid would start talking.

Will this be enough to satisfy the NCAA?  We’re not sure about that, but we are a little appalled that Kelvin & Co. had the cojones to run the same trick again.  This willful noncompliance on the part of his staff suggests that IU fans may have reason for concern.  One of the oft-repeated statements during the weekend by IU brass was that Indiana basketball has not had a major NCAA violation since 1960.  Sampson is clearly pushing the envelope with his bosses, and many fans remain skeptical of his legitimacy based upon issues he had at Oklahoma.  It’ll be interesting to see what, if any, opinion of Sampson changes with the likelihood of IU’s best team in years taking the court this season. 

Update:  Say what you want about Sampson’s wilfullness here, but nobody can accuse him of covering things up (yet).  Apparently an intern in the compliance department was the person who uncovered these phone calls.  He likely works for free school credit, and yet he’s costing Kelvin Sampson $500k/year.  Memo to intern – probably don’t want to hit up the IU head man for a rec anytime soon.  (h/t March to Madness)

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