Coming into the season we already knew that Syracuse was going to be loaded up front so the announcement that the NCAA had cleared incoming freshman Tyler Robinson to play should only serve to add to their depth this year. Robinson, who took courses this summer up until late July in hopes of boosting his high school transcript, had been waiting on the NCAA’s decision for more than two weeks to gain his eligibility. Although Syracuse began classes last week the ruling appears to have been made expeditiously enough that it should not be a significant issue going forward. With a roster that features some of the best forwards in the country Robinson should see limited minutes especially early in the season, but he could have an impact later in the season particularly on the defensive end given his length.
When Miami hired Jim Larranaga to be its head coach in 2011 many local writers questioned the hiring given Larranaga’s age (61 at the time) and the fact that the school did not appear to seriously consider Frank Martin, who already had strong ties to the area. We still cannot really address the Martin situation although there are still some issues with his time in Miami while he was the coach at Miami Senior High, but it at least appears that age (or at least how long Larranaga plans to coach) will no longer be an issue after Larranaga signed an extension with the school that runs through the 2021-22 season. Larranaga’s extension comes after a year that was the most successful in the school’s history and although the team will be rebuilding this year it appears that they should be in good shape for the 2014-15 season as they will have several big-time transfers available at that time.
If you were worried about the Big East basketball getting left off your television with college football being the driving force in TV contracts you can take some solace in the fact that CBS has reached an agreement with Fox allowing CBS Sports and CBS Sports Network to broadcast games from 2013-14 through the 2018-19 season. The agreement will give the CBS networks twenty games this coming season and frankly only a handful of the games are intriguing, but it should at least feature some of the conference’s top teams, which will provide the conference with the exposure it will be missing without being on an ESPN platform. It will be interesting to see how Fox and CBS split up the Big East’s games going forward in particular with how the two networks are able to grow and potentially challenge ESPN’s dominance.
Speaking of the Big East it appears their plans for expansion do not appear to have slowed down at least according to Xavier athletic director Greg Christopher who suggested that the conference will be targeting Saint Louis, Dayton, Richmond, and VCU for its next wave of expansion. According to Christopher the conference is looking to expand from 10 to 12 teams sometime in the next five years. It is not particuarly shocking that the Big East is looking to expand (we assume all conferences are always trying to expand), but it is unusual for an athletic director within the conference to publicly state that and in particular while naming the schools. Obviously, all four of the schools would be excellent additions from a basketball perspective, but it is unclear how the current members will view them from a non-basketball perspective.
Former Kentucky star and agriculture commissioner Richie Farmer will reportedly plead guilty to misusing state resources while serving as the state’s agriculture commissioner and could face approximately two years in prison. Farmer has reportedly entered into agreements with prosecutors and is just waiting for approval from the courts and ethics committee before it can be finalized. Given Farmer’s popularity within the state some are still shocked that he could commit so many violations–according to prosecutors the charges include five counts on federal indictment and a state record 42 counts from the ethics committee–but based on our experience sometimes that degree of popularity can embolden people to take risks that they otherwise would not. Farmer is still waiting on a date to formally enter his plea, but it is expected to come on September 12 or 13.
With his Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Playoffs (for now), Eddie Jordan appears to have reached a deal to become the next head coach at Rutgers, which is nice except the deal will not be finalized until the school’s governing body meets next week. Jordan has apparently agreed to a five-year deal worth a little over $1 million per year, but we have no idea on the bonus structure of the deal is as coaches can greatly increase their income through carefully crafted bonus structures. As for the issue of needing the Board of Governors to sign off on a basketball coach, normally we would say it is a massive waste of time, but given the public relations hit the school took as the result of its last coach they probably should be extra cautious with this hire.
Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. may not be walking through that door, but fortunately for John Beilein both Mitch McGary and Glenn Robinson III will be as they announced that they would be returning to Michigan in a joint press conference yesterday. The decision by those two to return is not quite as shocking as Marcus Smart’s decision was, but they are both lottery level picks so very few people will have offered them criticism for having left. Instead they will return to make Michigan a preseason top 10 team and a national title contender again next season.
Not to be outdone by its in-state rival Michigan State also received good news yesterday when Gary Harris announced that he will be returning for his sophomore season. Harris, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, was also predicted to be a lottery pick and probably had less to prove than either McGary or Robinson, but his return should make the Spartans the #2 team in the country going into next season and sets up a very intriguing early season match-up against Kentucky in the Champions Classic. At this point the only question remaining for the Spartans is whether Adreian Payne will also return. If he does the question of who should be the preseason #1 may get a little more interesting.
The decision by C.J. Wilcox to return to Washington for his senior year may not have as big of an impact on the national scene as the moves in the state of Michigan will, but it could play a big role in determining who wins the Pac-12 next season. Unlike the three other players mentioned so far who announced that they would be returning Wilcox was by no means a guaranteed first round pick so it makes sense for him to return, but as we have seen that is by no means a guarantee that a player will come back.
The grand jury hearing the case of former Kentucky star Richie Farmer (a former Mr. Basketball in the state and a member of “The Unforgettables”) will hear from former employees who worked with Farmer in his role as Kentucky’s Agriculture Commissioner. Farmer faces more than 40 counts of ethics violations while in his former role, but has not been called before the grand jury to testify. With the basketball-crazed culture and the cult-like hero status that Farmer once engendered within the state this is a trial that we expect to be hearing more about in the coming months.
The firing of Seth Greenberg led to a short circuitous route for James Johnson, who served as Greenberg’s assistant for five years before deciding to take a similar job at Clemson on April 19 just a few days before Greenberg was fired. Now it appears that Johnson will be headed back to Blacksburg less than two weeks later, but this time as the Hokies’ new head coach. The amusing part of the hire is that it technically keeps up the athletic department’s directive to move in a different direction since Johnson was no longer part of Greenberg’s staff when Greenberg was fired, but in reality it is not. While that is just semantics the real issue is whether Johnson can bring some consistency to a program that has been a veritable roller coaster the past few seasons leaving them on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday.
One assistant who will not be taking a job as a head coach is Chris Collins, the longtime Duke assistant. Ok, that may be a stretch, but at least we know that he will not be heading to Illinois State according to his father. Collins, whose name has been brought up with increasing frequency during the past few years when coaching positions opened up, seemed like he would be a good fit at Illinois State. Not only was it one of the better programs in a very solid mid-major conference (the Missouri Valley), but it was also his home state (where he was a high school legend), and his father (Doug) was the school’s most famous player. Unfortunately, it was too good of a fit and Chris removed his name from consideration. While this might seem like a blow for Illinois State, who reportedly had Collins at the top of their list, they should have plenty of interested coaches waiting for the opportunity. As for Collins, we expect that he will spend at least another season on Duke’s bench waiting for Mike Krzyzewski to pass the torch to him or, more likely, for a better position to open up.
In one of the more unusual NBA Draft declarations we have seen, Maryland‘s Terrell Stoglin announced that he was entering the NBA Draft after being suspended by the school for the next year. While the school is not announcing what the suspension was for it appears that it may have been to a third violation of the school’s drug policy, which is referenced in the linked article. The loss of the ACC’s leading scorer (21.6 points per game) is a big blow for a Terrapin team that was expected to be one of the better teams in a weakened ACC. Now they will probably be a middle-of-the-pack ACC team next season, which is less impressive than it sounds. As for Stoglin, we hope that he was taking some foreign language classes at Maryland because he is going to need that part of his education in the not too distant future.
After a 2-29 season, you should expect a few changes and at Binghamton the head coach was one of those changes as the Bearcats fired Mark Macon yesterday. In three seasons at Binghamton, his first head coaching position, Macon went 23-70, which is a horrible record by itself, but is magnified by the team’s win trajectory (13 then 8 then 2). We have not heard who is on the school’s list of potential targets to replace Macon, but that individual has a monumental task ahead of him or herself. On the plus side, at least they will have Mr. Tony rooting for the success of their team.
Kentucky fans may have taken quite a bit of joy in the legal issues of Christian Laettner, but now one member of their “Unforgettables”–Richie Farmer–appears to be facing some legal issues of his own. The former Wildcat star has been accused of abusing his public position as state agriculture commissioner. The report released yesterday by the state of Kentucky details “a toxic culture of entitlement and self-dealing at Kentucky taxpayers’ expense”. While the individual acts barely register on the level of corruption we have seen other politicians accused of the number of violations noted is remarkable. From what the lawyers are saying it seems like there are still ongoing discussions if there will be any criminal charges brought against Farmer, but at the very least he will probably go in from of the state ethics board.
It looks like you’ll have to go the rest of your life without any new rhymes from Tennessee senior forward Renaldo Woolridge, or at least until he decides to make his (inevitable) comeback. Going by Swiperboy as far as his rap, er, career is concerned, Woolridge has decided to pull the plug on his mic because he doesn’t get why other, lesser-talented rappers have achieved record deals while he remains unsigned, a common lament among countless rappers, garage bands, prog rockers, et al. We’ve been asking questions about the rules on this for a long time, by the way, without a satisfactory reply. Woolridge (1.4 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 0.5 APG last season) will be one of only two UT seniors in the upcoming season.
“I look into the hills, whence comes my help,” was a scripture Adolph Rupp once quoted regarding his in-state recruits who eventually became wearers of the Kentucky blue. One former Wildcat who knows something about coming from the hills is Richie Farmer, a sharpshooting high school legend from the middle of nowhere in the 1980s who ended up not just donning the UK uniform, but found himself in the spring of 1992 playing in what most people still feel is the greatest college basketball game ever played. RTC alum Josh Weill takes an enjoyable look back and also has the latest on this man whose name will always be associated with bluegrass basketball legend more than the bumpy political career that followed his time in Lexington.
Andre Drummond. The top recruit in the 2012 high school class. Or is it 2011? Is he staying or going? Or staying in high school but going elsewhere? Drummond says he could enroll in college this year, but has considered staying in prep school another year. His coach says probably not. What’s going on, here? Is Drummond planning to go to prep school for another year and then enter the NBA Draft by the age limit rule? Sporting News’ Mike DeCourcy examines the Drummond question and explains why that plan would certainly not be in the best interests of the young man.
Considering the last two seasons, we almost don’t want to say anything out loud or write it anywhere on this site, lest something bad happen and we lose all of our Purdue readers, not to mention the chance to watch the young man play again…but Robbie Hummelis good to go. In case you missed his tweet on Friday, Hummel claims that he “passed all his tests.” If you’re not following him, that link takes you to his account, so now you’re out of excuses. How he comes back will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the early part of the 2011-12 season.
LSU’s Matt Derenbecker would have been a sophomore for the Tigers this year, but, as he explained to NOLA.com, he will be withdrawing from LSU immediately to “address some personal matters.” Derenbecker played in all 32 of the Tigers’ games last season and averaged a pretty healthy 22.6 minutes per contest, putting up 6.5 PPG and 2.1 RPG. He was a two-time high school POY in Louisiana, and despite some growing pains as a freshman, we (and probably many LSU fans) were looking forward to seeing how his game progressed. Whatever he’s going through, we hope he comes out fine on the other end and is back playing basketball somewhere soon.
RTC asked its legion of correspondents, charlatans, sycophants, toadies and other hangers-on to send us their very favorite March Madness memory, something that had a visceral effect on who they are as a person and college basketball fan today. Not surprisingly, many of the submissions were excellent and if you’re not fired up reading them, then you need to head back over to PerezHilton for the rest of this month. We’ve chosen the sixteen best, and we’ll be counting them down over the next two weeks as we approach the 2009 NCAA Tournament.
An NCAA victory over Duke tastes a little sweeter, and a loss to the Devils hurts a little more. Nobody gets passions as high as Coach K’s Dookies, and we received two submissions that perfectly illustrate that range of emotions.
“Just when people say you can’t, UCan. And UConn has won the national championship.” – Jim Nantz
I’ll never forget those words. It was just three days before my 14th birthday. Growing up in Connecticut, we never really had a pro sports team, so we latched on to Jim Calhoun‘s UConn Huskies. Despite being a team of national relevance for a number of years, Calhoun had never gotten his team to the Final Four. He finally broke through in 1999, barely hanging on against 10 seed Gonzaga in the Elite 8 before beating Ohio State for what many thought to be the right to lose to a talented Duke squad in the Finals.
Duke came in riding a 32-game winning streak (their only loss was the Cincinnati in the Great Alaska Shootout, don’t ask me why I know such things) with a roster loaded with NBA draft picks – William Avery, Trajan Langdon, Shane Battier, Elton Brand, Corey Maggette.
But the Huskies hung with Duke the whole game, trailing by just two at the half, thanks in large part to 13 points from defensive specialist Ricky Moore. The second half became the Rip Hamilton Show, as the junior with the silky smooth jumper finished his last collegiate game with 27 points.
The game ended in unbelievable fashion. With UConn up 75-74, everyone’s favorite pudge-ball Khalid El-Amin drove baseline and threw up an airball, which Trajan Langdan collected with around 15 seconds left. He brought the ball up court and tried to go one-on-one against Moore. Moore forced him into a travel. El-Amin would rattle home two free throws, setting up the finish. Langdon would once again take the inbounds and dribble into a double team before turning the ball over.
And that was it. So what is my memory?
Seeing Khalid El-Amin screaming “WE SHOCKED THE WORLD” before jumping into Jake Voskuhl’s arms.
Verne Lundquist Just Had an Aneurysm (submitted by Patrick Marshall of Bluejay Basketball)
Being a big Kentucky fan most of my life, no one can forget the 1992 East Regional Final of Kentucky vs. Duke. The game was spectacular but what made the Kentucky team so special were the players that were affectionately known as “The Unforgettables.” Kentucky’s basketball program had been dragged through the mud four years before in a major scandal involving academic fraud and improper payments to recruits. However, Richie Farmer, Deron Feldhaus, John Pelphrey and Sean Woods chose to stay with the program and as seniors in their first eligible appearance, they made a surprising run in the NCAA tournament that year to the regional finals against Duke. The three-point shot has been one of the most exciting innovations in college basketball and the Cats’ love of the three-point shot is what established my love for these Wildcats. As the Wildcats drove deeper into March, I just had to watch that game.
Back in the day I had this black and white portable tv and I remember taking it to high school musical practice so I could still watch the game while we had rehearsal. I seem to remember that Kentucky was down somewhat big (12 pts), but some key threes got them back into the game and eventually sent the game into overtime. As they battled in overtime it was down to what appeared to be one play. Sean Woods drove to the basket and made an awkward bank-shot with 2.1 seconds left. I was jumping around the room like mad and thought there was no way Duke would be able to get off a good shot – Kentucky has made it back to the Final Four. However, it was not to be. Duke inbounded the ball length of the court and Christian Laettner hit the storied shot that is now shown every year at tournament time. Laettner finished his 10-10 shooting and 31 point night with a storybook ending as Duke went on the next week to gain back-to-back NCAA championships. I just said to myself over and over, “How did John Pelphrey not react fast enough to stop a 2/3 court pass to Laettner at the free throw line. Not only that, but he just stood there and watched him shoot it.” Oh, I so hate Duke and oh what could have been.
The game had all the drama you could ask for with the lead changing five times in the final 31 seconds of the game and both teams combining to shoot 63% in the second half and overtime. But that final shot is what is the most recognizable and memorable part of that game. This season Kentucky fans not only have to watch the shot again, but have to re-live the whole drama and feel the punch in the stomach again with a new commercial including Laettner and now turncoat Rick Pitino. But in the end, this game is considered by many to be the greatest college basketball game of all time. I know I will never forget it.
Arizona recruit Brandon Jennings (and the #1 player in the 2008 class, according to some experts) is considering playing in Europe next season if he cannot qualify in Tucson. Actually, according to Gary Parrish, Jennings may play Euroball next year even if he does get a passing SAT score.
We all knew that the Class of 2007 was a sick class filled with talented players, but did you know we could see as many as twelve freshmen selected in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday night? Incredible. Oh, and the party is over with respect to fantastic freshmen (thanks, Seth).