Tonight, prior to its game against Boise State, Utahwill pause to commemorate the life of former head coach Rick Majerus, who died on Saturday night of heart failure. The university will observe a moment of silence, then they’ll show a video in the Huntsman Center celebrating Majerus’ time in Utah and the team will wear black patches on their uniforms for the remainder of the season. Later in the year, they’ll raise a replica of the white sweater that Majerus wore during his time there. The athletic department had tried to work out a time to have a ceremony for Majerus last season, while he was still a head coach at Saint Louis, but the two parties could never find a suitable time. Lastly, while there have been a lot of great remembrances of the coaching legend in recent days, it goes without saying that Utah fans, where Majerus enjoyed his greatest success, had a good perspective on the man, and Block U in particular laid down another in a long line of touching tributes.
And speaking of the game against Boise State, that contest kicks off a big week forUtah, as they’ll also travel to face BYU on Saturday. Both games mark significant upgrades in terms of competition for the Utes, and they represent the clear high water mark of the non-conference schedule. Ken Pomeroy gives Utah a 17% chance of knocking off the Broncos and an 8% chance of winning in Provo, but more important to the program may not be the focus on earning any Ws this week, but playing up to their potential and showing improvement from last week’s split of a two-game road-trip to Texas to face SMU (a seven-point loss) and Texas State (a five-point win).
On Monday, we handed out our Pac-12 Player of the Week award to C.J. Wilcox of Washington, but the official POTW award went toArizona State’s Carrick Felix, who averaged 21 points, nine boards, nearly five assists and a couple of blocks in a pair of wins for the Sun Devils. He was the first ASU player to earn the honor since Ty Abbott won it in March 2011. After a bumpy first couple of seasons in Tempe marked by great athleticism but poor shooting, Felix has dialed in his long-range jumper in a big way this season, hitting nearly two threes a game at a 44.4% clip. As Doug Haller reports, head coach Herb Sendek attributes Felix’s improvement to perseverance and “habits of excellence” as well as understanding his strengths and being comfortable with who he is on the basketball court. Throw in the fact that Felix, a senior now, is surrounded by the most talent he’s seen in his time at ASU and there’s a good chance this run at the start of the year is not just a fluke, but the new normal.
Washington has been without the services of Scott Suggs since before Thanksgiving, and they’ve been without Shawn Kemp Jr. for the entire year. But, both are nearing their returns, and if they can get through practices on Thursday and Friday without any adverse affects (a big if), they will be ready to play on Saturday against Nevada. Kemp tore a patellar tendon in his right knee back in October, and even if he is available for Saturday’s game, it will likely be for limited minutes. Suggs, who has been struggling with plantar fasciitis, is a better bet to play on Saturday, but head coach Lorenzo Romar warns that Suggs’ injury is one that could linger throughout the season.
Finally, Scott Gleeson of the USA Today asked the question yesterday, is the Mountain West better than the Pac-12? Gleeson came up with the right answer, which is, “of course!” And he could have gone a step further with, “and it has been for at least three years now.” But despite three MW teams in the Top 25 compared to just one for the Pac-12 and a current 4-2 advantage on the season, we’ll get a clearer answer to the question this week as we’ll see five different match-ups between the two conferences. We already mentioned the Utah/Boise State game tonight, but there are a pair of other contests between the conferences tonight, as Colorado State visits Colorado and USC visits New Mexico. Then, over the weekend, we’ll see a couple more games, with Nevada traveling to Washington on Saturday and UNLV visiting California. And, there will be at least three other match-ups (and potentially a San Diego State/Arizona Christmas present in the championship game of the Diamond Head Classic) between the conferences prior to the start of 2013, giving a large enough sample to declare a winner in the unofficial Pac-12/Mountain West Challenge. My guess on the final tally? The Pac-12 finishes strong and pulls out a 9-6 record in the long run, with Colorado getting back on track tonight against Colorado State and California scoring a key win over UNLV on Sunday.
Nick Fasulo is an RTC correspondent who writes the column College Basketball By the Tweets, a look at the world of college hoops through the prism of everyone’s favorite social media platform. You can find him on Twitter @nickfasuloSBN.
When you’re a member of the loudest and polarizing fan base in college basketball, you have no choice but to accept ridicule from trolls high and low when things start to go sour. Kentucky, the defending national champion, is off to a bad start. Everybody knows this, and everybody wants everybody else to know this, too. To Twitter we go. Following Saturday’s loss to Baylor, the first L the Wildcats took in Rupp Arena in 55 games, our favorite social media platform has been a hub of negative sentiments pointed directly at Big Blue Nation (#BBN). The activity has become so pervasive and toxic that Wildcat players are one by one shutting the doors on their account until further notice.
My thought: This will either destroy or galvanize this young group of kids.
Louisville Leaves The Big East
Just 80 miles west of Lexington, the mood is bittersweet. On one hand, the Cardinals are without the services of their frontcourt anchor Gorgui Dieng for 4-6 weeks with a broken wrist. On the other, the school is the latest to ditch the Big East for the ACC, an addition to a short list of moves based more on basketball than football, and one that could serve as the tipping point in terms of a movement towards four (and not six) super-conferences.
An “A-C-C” chant has apparently broken out at the Louisville women’s basketball game vs. EKU tonight.
In the aftermath of the outpouring of support for Rick Majerus it seems appropriate that Utah announced that it will hang a replica Majerus sweater from its rafters. The decision to do so comes as part of a larger celebration to remember Majerus with the first part being at Wednesday’s game where the school will have a moment of silence followed by a video honoring Majerus. In addition to the ceremony the team will wear black patches on their uniforms for the rest of the season and the team will raise Majerus’ sweater to the rafters at a date later in the season.
We have hit December–the second month of the college basketball season–so some of the regular columns that you are used to seeing here such as Seth Davis’ weekly Hoops Thoughts column will start appearing on a more regular basis. In the first column of the season, Davis takes an overview of the past week highlighting the best and worst of the week to go along with a brief interview with Jim Boeheim and a mailbag full of questions/comments from a nation full of angry fans of disrespected teams (mostly for good reason).
It wouldn’t really be a weekend without a college basketball player getting in trouble and this weekend’s contribution comes from Massachusetts’ Cady Lalanne who was arrested on Saturday night at the school’s student union on charges of disorderly conduct and followed it up with assault and battery on the arresting police officer with a resisting arrest charge thrown in for good measure (see the entry from 2121 near the bottom of the page). Lalanne, who starts at center and averages 4.8 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game, did not practice with the team yesterday and will not come with the team to their game tonight at Northeastern. We aren’t sure how long Lalanne will be out, but with that assault and battery on an officer charge we are guessing he will be out for a while.
At the beginning of the season we linked to a column highlighting the injuries/suspensions at nearly every program in the country. While the injury report put together by Rob Dauster isn’t as comprehensive it does provide a nice in-depth look at the most important injuries across the nation. You are probably aware of most of the major injuries on the list, but there are several key players who are still playing through their injuries and it does provide some useful updates on potential return dates for some players.
When we first saw Charles Pierce had written a column on the rebirth of Indiana basketball we thought we were going to get a phenomenal piece. We will be honest and admit that in our opinion it falls short of that, but it does offer some very good anecdotes (about Majerus, Tom Crean, Bob Knight, and Al McGuire) that is still worth a read even if it is not as well-connected as we would have expected from a writer of Pierce’s caliber and pedigree.
Jesse Baumgartner is an RTC columnist. His Love/Hate column will publish each week throughout the season. In this piece he’ll review the five things he loved and hated about the previous seven days of college basketball.
Five Things I Loved This Week
I LOVED… the challenge that John Calipari has on his hands. He proved that he could win a title last year, but the question in coming years is whether his one-year-and-out philosophy can continue to bring home the hardware that UK fans believe should be the norm. Several bad losses in a row, however, are showing that this group is not at the talent level of last year’s champs. In many ways, this should be a great test – if UK is not the most talented team in the country, does Calipari have the coaching chops to keep them in the conversation? Stay tuned.
I LOVED… thinking about upcoming Louisville battles with Duke, North Carolina and Syracuse after the Cardinals were selected to replace Maryland in the ACC. While I’ve had about enough of this whole conference realignment fad in the last couple years, the addition of these two Big East powerhouses to such a basketball-crazy conference is definitely reason to smile (and the folks over at ESPN just might feel the same way).
I LOVED… Larry Brown. There are only a few coaches out there who can walk into an under-the-radar (nice-speak for “not relevant”) program like SMU and declare that they’re going to be “pretty good pretty quickly.” Fortunately LB has the resume and personality to do just that. Do I think they will be? No way. But just hearing his enthusiasm made me smile and think – now wouldn’t that be something….
Larry Brown Is Off to a Good Start at SMU
I LOVED…Rasheed Sulaimon’s assertiveness as a freshman. This kid is going to be good, but more importantly he’s exactly the type of wing playmaker that the Blue Devils have been missing all the way back to Kyrie Irving’s injury, if we’re being honest. Sure, he probably takes a few more heat checks than Coach K might like, but he puts constant pressure on the D with his quickness and aggressiveness, has a promising stroke from deep, and should allow Duke’s other guards (read: Seth Curry) to spot up and reap the benefits of inevitable double teams from penetration. Duke is very good this early in the season, and if they’re still around in April, Sulaimon will be a big reason. Read the rest of this entry »
We usually don’t like to blame the actions of college students on a coach or the administration, but when you have the issues that Hofstra has had recently you start wanting to ask questions. On Friday, four players on the team (sophomore Shaquille Stokes and freshmen Jimmy Hall, Dallas Anglin, and Kentrell Washington) pleaded not guilty to their involvement in a series of six burglaries between October 4 and November 5. While this could be seen as an isolated series of incidents, these events come after the team already had two players miss the first two games of the season due to violation of unspecified team rules. We aren’t saying that it is head coach Mo Cassara’s or Hofstra’s fault that these serious accusations are flying around, but somebody within the institution needs to step up and get things under control there.
Years ago we used to wonder if a player would be headed to college or would bypass it completely to enter the NBA Draft. With the NBA’s one-year rule in place we don’t have that discussion any more, but in the case of elite class of 2013 recruit Jabari Parker we are awaiting a similar major decision — whether he would go to college next season or begin his two-year Mormon mission. On a local ESPN radio show Parker announced on Friday that he would be going to college before going on his Mormon mission. While this may seem like a no-brainer to most people there have been plenty of prominent Mormon athletes (including basketball players) who took time off during college to complete their mission. We are not sure if Parker will delay some part of his basketball career to do so himself, but we certainly would not rule it out.
We came across an article that appeared in The New York Times last week discussing whether a college diploma was as important as people claim it is. We found the argument intriguing and think that it relates a little to the issues regarding basketball players attending school to pursue their professional dreams. Obviously there are some significant differences here, primarily that graduation rates are focused more on the athletes who are not going to have professional sports careers where they make enough money to last their family for several lifetimes. For us the more important connection here is for individuals who are talented enough to pursue lucrative careers without the safety net of having a college degree. There are some important differences (namely the fact that athletes aren’t saddled with significant college tuition debt), but it is an interesting discussion whether you consider it from a traditional student’s perspective or from that of a student-athlete.
Federal officials may have dropped the Bernie Fine case, but local authorities do not appear to be convinced of his innocence as Onondaga County DA believes that some of his accusers are “highly credible.” This flies in the face of actions made by federal prosecutors a few weeks ago in closing the case investigating Fine, citing insufficient evidence to bring charges against the longtime Orange assistant coach. What does this all mean? Not much, as the statute of limitations on the DA bringing charges against Fine has already passed, but maybe in some strange way these statements serve to validate the accusers who came forward and encourage those who are silent in similar situations to realize that sharing their story can be worthwhile.
This Weekend’s Lede. Rick Majerus’ Passing Looms Over Action-Packed Weekend. This space is typically reserved for a general overview of the weekend’s on-court action. Common practice won’t suffice this weekend, not after college basketball witnessed the passing of a true coaching legend. Rick Majerus was one of the brightest basketball minds of his generation. Anyone with even the faintest knowledge of recent college hoops history will mourn the loss of not only a sideline legend and master strategist. They will forever long to appreciate the inexplicable character traits, the brusque disposition, the measured charisma, the almost juvenile passion for the game – they’ll seek to understand all of it. In truth, no one will every truly encapsulate Majerus’ legacy, though many brilliant reactions were penned following Saturday night’s news. (Here’s my brief take). The best we can do is pay homage and seek to remember the many ways in which he impacted the sport we love. So as we move to recapping the weekend, take a moment to appreciate the legacy of one of college basketball’s most unique individuals. Know that Majerus, if healthy and able, was not ready to slide away from the sport’s center stage. Majerus was a grand attraction unto himself; his lasting work, cut short by heart problems, will forever be remembered as unfinished business. RIP.
Your Watercooler Moment. An Unforgettable Majerus Moment.
The personal side of Rick Majerus was always a divisive subject. Stories of his abusive and demeaning behavior towards players tarnished his legacy. His grizzled disposition wasn’t for anyone; many players transferred away from his programs. More often, you hear coaches and players talk about how much Majerus loved the game, how many players he helped and how his sideline eccentricities were all part of the Majerus coaching experience – the sometimes inexplicable measures he took to get the most out of his players. Whether you briefly remember this highly emotional press conference following the Billikens’ Round of 32 loss to Michigan State in last year’s NCAA Tournament, or if you’re just seeing it for the first time, let it serve as a poignant snapshot of the emotional grip Majerus forged with his players. He was about so much more than Xs and Os, and Saint Louis senior Brian Conklin hammers that point home with this passionate postgame speech. Conklin teared up not just because his team lost, but because it was his last chance to play for Majerus. Keep some tissues nearby.
Also Worth Chatting About. The End of Kentucky’s Home Win Streak.
It’s unrealistic to expect another run of national dominance from this Kentucky team (Photo credit: US Presswire).
The idea that John Calipari could reboot his team for another dominant national championship season always felt like a bit of a stretch. The similarities between this year’s UK team and last year’s transcendent group aren’t all that difficult to make out. The 2012-13 Wildcats are, crazy as it seems, normal freshmen. Last year’s Anthony Davis-led cast were legendary talents that, when assembled, somehow projected greater collective value than the sum of their individual blue-chip credentials suggested. Of course this season’s one-and-doners fly near the top of every recruiting ranking and NBA Draft board projection, just like last year’s team. But this group is not impervious to the typical rigors of college hoops first-year players. They can’t block out brutal road environments – as Notre Dame proved Thursday night. They aren’t talented enough to create offense on the fly. They aren’t selfless enough to accept defined scoring roles this early in the season. And they most certainly are not good enough to overcome a 29.6 percent shooting night, not even at unassailable Rupp Arena. Baylor went into Lexington and stunned the blue and white diehards, a feat unachieved thus far during the Calipari era. That’s a monster-sized win, no doubt. But this was just as much about Kentucky’s shooting woes as it was Baylor’s disciplined defense. This is a bad mark for Kentucky, but it’s not time to sound the alarms in Big Blue Nation just yet. Maybe this won’t be another dream season, but the Wildcats will round into form. It’s just going to take longer this time around – after all, they’re just freshmen.
The stylistic permissiveness of college basketball is one of its best qualities. Unlike the professional game, talent does not always trump tactical wisdom. Athleticism and depth advantages are often negated by disciplined defense and judicious offense. Contrary to what last year’s Kentucky might lead you to believe, you don’t always need the very best players to win. What you need is simple: a comprehensive knowledge of offensive and defensive principles; a brazen disregard for the formalities of coaching etiquette, and an undying thirst to live, breathe and absorb every last bit of college basketball information into your memory. Just ask Rick Majerus.
Few coaches impacted the college game like Majerus did (Photo credit: Getty Images).
When I heard that Majerus, 64, had passed away after a long and well-documented struggle with heart problems – problems that caused him to take a leave absence from St. Louis prior to this season and announce his resignation from the Billiken program weeks after the word – I grieved the loss of not only one of the most entertaining sideline bosses of my sports-watching childhood, but of the greatest technical wizard I have ever seen coach a college basketball game.
Joe Dzuback is the RTC correspondent for the Atlantic-10. You can also find his musings online at Villanova by the Numbers or on Twitter @vtbnblog.
Ed. Note – This week’s check-in does not include Tuesday night’s action.
Rick Majerus Retires – To those who saw the 25-year veteran head coach at the Atlantic-10 (or NCAA) tournaments last spring knew he was struggling. The only surprise last August, made public after an extended stay and evaluation at a California facility were disappointing, was that the coach, anticipating a recovery, had applied for a medical leave of absence. Saint Louis Athletic Director Chris May dropped the other shoe on Friday – Rick Majerus will not return to the Chaifetz Arena sidelines. The coach is retiring for the second, and presumably final, time. Though the course Majerus charted for a Saint Louis resurgence on the hardcourt seemed at times to be a maddeningly uneven two-step, and though he was entering the final year of his contract, it was a chronic heart condition, one that forced a complex seven bypass procedure in the late 1980s and the insertion of a stint during the 2011 offseason, that forced the 64 year old into retirement. Interim Coach Jim Crews, who took over in August, will coach the Billikens through the end of the season.
Saint Louis will be without head coach Rick Majerus this season – this time probably for good (AP)
The Very Early (Invitational Tournament) Returns Are In – Dayton, Duquesne, Fordham, Massachusetts, Saint Joseph’s and Saint Louis kicked off the 2012-13 season with (very) early season invitational tournament appearances. Read the rest of this entry »
Chris Johnson is an RTC National Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn.
Tonight’s Lede. Shabazz Muhammad Gets A Harsh Welcome. In light of Friday night’s 11th hour news of freshman super-prospect Shabazz Muhammad’s reinstatement, an immediate upward revision of UCLA’s season expectations was very much in order. After all, Muhammad is, depending on your source, arguably the top freshman in the country, and a huge difference-maker for the Bruins’ chances of a major rebound to the upper echelon of the Pac-12 after several uncharacteristically down seasons. We got our first look at the Bishop Gorman product tonight, and the results were mostly what you’d expect from a guy getting his first taste of major college hoops. The potential was readily there — Muhammad scored 15 points in 25 minutes; the polish – that’ll come in time, with more game action and meaningful repetitions. The larger takeaway from Monday night wasn’t Muhammad’s debut. It was Muhammad’s team, and the way it dropped the ball in its first showcase game of the season. How did the Bruins, No. 1 recruiting class in tow, get worked at the Barclays Center? We shall explore…
Your Watercooler Moment. UCLA Not A Finished Product.
The debut of the No. 1-ranked recruit in the country, Muhammad, was overshadowed my Georgetown’s offensive execution (Photo credit: Getty Images).
The obligatory modifier for college hoops teams at this time of the year is one you’ve heard time and again: it’s still early. Teams need time to develop, to guess at different schematic adjustments and lineups, to grow comfortable in their respective offensive and defensive systems. This logic applies for most every team, but most of all for young and inexperienced ones. Which brings us to UCLA, and the Bruins somewhat surprising loss to Georgetown. The Hoyas spoiled Shabazz Muhammad’s debut by shooting over 50 percent from the field, getting 23 points from junior Markel Starks and unleashing sophomore Otto Porter from relative medical obscurity to great effect (18 points, 11 rebounds). UCLA looked disengaged and unorganized defensively. The Bruins didn’t click on the other end of the floor. Muhammad’s debut brought the mostly expected reality that this year’s No. 1 recruit is not – despite what this UCLA fan’s widly popular t-shirt solidarity might have you believe – a LeBron James-type basketball destroyer of worlds. If this was the Pac-12 championship game, or an NCAA Tournament contest, all measures of criticism and conclusion-drawing would be fair game. In this instance, UCLA’s first real run with a new roster against quality competition, chalk it up as a learning experience. UCLA will tighten things up defensively – Ben Howland’s coaching track record is a documental embodiment of defensive improvement. And Muhammad will learn how to play with rising star Jordan Adams. Missing out on a potential Final matchup with No. 1 Indiana isn’t the outcome Howland had in mind. It’s also not a doomsday scenario. Not in the least.
Also Worth Chatting About. Buzzer-Beating Madness in Maui. It didn’t take long for college hoops to provide us the first truly memorable slice of buzzer-beating hysteria. This one came courtesy of Arkansas transfer Rotnei Clarke, whose uncharacteristically poor shooting streak (he finished 7-of-21 and 4-of-14 from three) did a complete 180 when Butler needed it most. Butler trailed Marquette by two with eight seconds remaining in regulation when Clarke received the inbound pass, drove the length of the floor and netted a one-handed off-balance leaner – after which his teammates, expectedly, piled on to celebrate. The dismissal of Chrishawn Hopkins late this offseason left Butler with a dearth of perimeter scoring. It made Clarke’s transfer even more crucial. He may not own Hopkins’ ability to create and score off the bounce. What he does have is a lethal three-point stroke, and apparently one that glosses over whatever struggles felled him the previous 40 minutes.
We can finally stop talking about the NCAA’s investigation into Shabazz Muhammad and focus on Shabazz Muhammad the player after the NCAA reinstated Muhammad. We could be cynical and point out that they did this soon after reports came out that the NCAA may have already determined that Muhammad was ineligible before all the evidence was reviewed, but we won’t do that. In the end both sides got a little bit of what they wanted as the NCAA got a chance to punish Muhammad (3 games and having to pay back ~$1,600 in impermissible benefits) and UCLA got its best player back just before they start playing against some of the best teams in the country.
With one non-basketball basketball issue out of the way–Muhammad’s eligibility–another non-basketball basketball is here to fill its place–Maryland possibly moving to the Big Ten. One of main drivers of Maryland’s potential move is Under Armour founder and Maryland alum/booster Kevin Plank, who has reportedly been lobbying the members of the school’s Board of Regents to move to the Big Ten. It is worth remembering that Maryland was one of two ACC schools that opposed a recent motion to increase the exit fee for leaving the ACC from $20 million to $50 million (Florida State was the other and is/was believed to be interested in moving to the SEC at some point). According to reports, if Maryland goes to the Big Ten then Rutgers will follow suit giving the Big Ten 14 schools (hello, higher education) as it heads into its next TV contract negotiations. Just when we thought we had heard the end of conference realignment we get sucked back into another cycle.
While college basketball gained a star in Muhammad it lost a coaching legend when Rick Majerus announced that he will not return to his job at Saint Louisdue to ongoing health issues and also presumably retire from coaching. Majerus, who is most well-known for his time at Utah and led Saint Louis back to relevance on the national college basketball landscape, spent a quarter century on the sideline as a head coach compiling a 517-216 record. Despite his numerous on-court accomplishments Majerus will perhaps be best remembered for his personality (as evidenced by his numerous headline-making remarks while at ESPN and quirks off the court (living in the Marriott in Salt Lake City during his nearly one decade long stint at Utah). While we will miss Majerus in the college basketball world, we wish him the best of luck with his health issues and the next stage of his life.
For the most part North Carolina has avoided the national spotlight with their ongoing academic scandal, but we have to wonder at what point they are going to feel the effects of it. Now a former academic adviser (“reading specialist”) has come forward with specific allegations against the school that go deeper than just the ones that have previously been covered in the major revenue-producing sports. At some point you have to figure the NCAA has to come down on the school. While it may not run counter to amateurism rules what reportedly happened at UNC appears to be counter to what an institution of higher learning is supposed to be about yet they appear to be getting away with it because while these individuals were able to get away without getting a college education at least they didn’t get into a club for free.
Normally when a starting point guard for a top ten team returns we think it may alter the complexion of a season, but in the case of Scottie Wilbekin, the replacement at Florida for Erving Walker, we may have to make an exception. Wilbekin, who averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 assists per game, inherited the job from Walker and has not done a thing yet in college to make us take him seriously. He started his career as the starting point guard by sitting out three games for an undisclosed violation of unspecified rules. He returned to action last night and put 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 23 minutes off the bench against Middle Tennessee State. Wilbekin will have one more game to work on his game before the Gators face a daunting three-game stretch: home versus Marquette then on the road for Florida State and Arizona.
The Best Basketball (Only) Conference in the NCAA? You Bet– With the departure of Temple (to the Big East) and Charlotte (to CUSA), A-10 fans knew the conference would not “make due” with a 12-team configuration. The question was which candidates would match best with the conference profile and mission and not in the chase for football money? The A-10 could afford to focus on candidates with high quality basketball programs, thereby offering regional rivalries to the Midwestern and Washington D.C. metro area members. Virginia Commonwealth and Butler were the logical choices as both have had recent Final Four appearances, are high quality programs, and boast two of the hottest young coaching names in Division I. Both schools accepted and the existing circumstances of member departures and arrivals means that the A-10, with 16 members and an 18-game conference slate, will have a superconference look and feel this season.
Veteran St. Joseph’s Coach Phil Martelli Has Garnered Plenty Of Media Attention Over The Years. Now Thanks To A New TV Deal, The Entire Atlantic-10 is Going to Get a Dose Of Camera Time (AP)
The New TV Deal – The conference announced an eight-year partnership with ESPN, the CBS Sports Network and the NBC Sports Network, worth an estimated $40 million dollars ($5 million per year) to run from 2013-14 through 2021-22. The three media outlets will televise 64 regular season men’s games (CBS and NBC Sports Network will televise 25 apiece and the ESPN outlets will televise 14). These three outlets will divvy the responsibilities for the conference tournament with NBC televising the men’s (and women’s) quarterfinals, CBS televising the men’s (and women’s) semifinal games, and ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU televising the men’s championship game. Though financial details were not disclosed, the conference’s 14 members are expected to collect about $400,000 apiece each season.
Brooklyn, Here We Come – A quiet affirmation that the move to lock up the Barclays Center in Brooklyn came with Hurricane Sandy. The superstorm swamped Atlantic City, New Jersey, and the Boardwalk Hall, previous site of the conference’s championship tournament. The Barclays Center has garnered positive reviews for its architecture, facilities and amenities. The brand-new facility will work out the kinks with a number of invitational tournaments (Barclays Center Classic, Coaches vs. Cancer, Legends Classic, Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival and Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational) and be ready to host the conference tournament next March.
Reader’s Take I
Predicted Order of Finish
Signs that the A-10 is in for a wild ride this season are everywhere. CBS Sports’ five basketball experts (Jeff Goodman, Doug Gottlieb, Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander and Jeff Borzello) tabbed four different schools (Butler, Massachusetts, Saint Louis and Virginia Commonwealth) to take the regular season crown. The A-10 coaches named a fifth school – Saint Joseph’s – at the conference’s Media Day earlier this month. Note that nobody in that group is named Temple or Xavier – the two schools which have passed the regular season crown back-and-forth for the last five seasons.
We’re just four days away from the official opening to the 2012-13 college basketball season as schools will be able to start officially practicing Friday night. Before then, though, we’re going to take a look at the various pre-conference tournaments that have become synonymous with the first month of college basketball. Nearly every Big 12 school is competing in one of those tournaments this season and we’ll take time each day this week to preview each bracket, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico to New York City. We start the week with the premier programs in the conference, Kansas and Texas.
CBE Hall of Fame Classic
Dates: November 20-21 Location: Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri Teams: Kansas, Texas A&M, Washington State, Saint Louis
The Sprint Center Will Have a Partisan KU Crowd at the CBE This Year
Technically, there are 12 teams in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic. The four host schools listed above each play two “host round” games at home before advancing — win or lose — to the Championship Rounds at the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The “win or lose” part is why talking about teams like Chattanooga or Utah Valley as if they’re really in the tournament field is unnecessary. If you cut through the algebraic details of the “host rounds” and “sub-host rounds” listed on the tournament website, things get much simpler. Texas A&M plays Saint Louis on Monday, November 20. Kansas plays Washington State soon after that. The winners and losers play the next day.
Most of the Sprint Center will be decked out with KU’s Crimson and Blue, but the biggest storyline heading into the 12th annual tournament might be the unexpected departure of Saint Louis head coach Rick Majerus, who stepped down in August due to heart problems. The Billikens nearly knocked off No. 1 seed Michigan State in the second round of last season’s NCAA Tournament and have been a fringe Top 25 team on many preseason ballots.
The MAAC conference tournament gave us another buzzer-beater last night. Saint Peter’s guard Desi Washington rushed down the court and nailed a trey to eliminate Fairfield 65-62 on Washington’s THIRD game-winning buzzer-beater against the Stags this season.
Clown, thy name is UCSB fan. Although players and coaches alike are expected to behave professionally, fans also have a responsibility to contain themselves. Incidents like last night’s approach by a rabid UCSB fan are dangerous for everyone involved.