- Many dishonorable things happen on the recruiting trail. Much like in politics, coaches sell the positives of their programs as much as they attempt to create negativity around that of their competitors. There are few bullets left unfired, and it can get personal. Therefore it comes as little surprise that St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin’s continued recovery from prostate cancer is being used against him. Lavin’s Red Storm team has been short-handed this season both on the court and on the sideline. They employ just seven scholarship players and Lavin has not been able to coach the team during games since early in the season due to the physical demands involved. To Lavin’s credit, he has met the challenge with honesty and positivity. The approach recently paid dividends as Lavin landed Jamal Branch, a transfer from Texas A&M. Lavin spoke about the process that brought Branch to Jamaica, New York: “Naturally in recruiting he’s going to hear from all the other schools, speculation, innuendo and rumors, so my inclination is to take that head on and just lay it out. We were able to convince Jamal that this was a great situation in spite of the fact that I’m currently recuperating from prostate cancer.”
- Since Louisville was dismantled by Providence two weeks ago to cap off a stretch where the Cardinals lost four of five games, the Cardinals have won three four to stabilize its season. The turn-around can be attributed in part to some soul searching that started with a team meeting after the Providence game. In a delayed celebration of Festivus, grievances were aired and it appears the open communication, along with some much needed practice time, have relieved some stress. Head coach Rick Pitino has been vocal about the team’s need for practice, while others criticized the alleged over-intensity of Pitino’s training sessions. Despite unconfirmed fake rumors, started by unknown people who may or may not be writing this Morning Five right now, that Rick Pitino has been seen working out material at the Comedy Caravan, Pitino has never been confused with Shecky Green. Yet, there are reports of laughter coming out of Louisville practices. And now Pitino finds himself cracking a smile as the newly found levity around Louisville has translated from practice floor to the main stage.
- Syracuse and basketball coach Jim Boeheim are looking to get out of the city. However New York apartment hunters will be disappointed to learn that this is just a bit of legal maneuvering. Syracuse and Boeheim are being sued for defamation by two of former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine’s accusers. Fine has been accused of alleged sexual misconduct with minors but has not been charged. However when the allegations surfaced Boeheim made comments in defense of Fine that referenced the accusers may perhaps be lying and looking for personal gain. The suit was brought in New York City and lawyers for the defense have filed a motion to have the case moved to Onondaga County given that is where those involved reside. The accusers counter argument is to have the case in Onondaga County would not be fair due to Syracuse and Boeheim’s high profile in that area.
- You know how in professional sports when an owner comes out and gives his or her coach or general manager a vote of confidence it usually means said coach or general manager better dust of the old resume? Well, the Big 12 expansion committee met on Wednesday and yesterday the conference’s associate commissioner for communications, Bob Burda said of the proceedings, “There is nothing imminent with regard to expansion.” So, taking Burda at his word, Louisville and Brigham Young University are apparently on, or back on, the Big 12’s wish list as the league ponders a 12-team membership. This is fresh off locking up current Big East participant West Virginia. Regardless of further expansion, the Big 12 remains in near-term flux as West Virginia’s departure date from the Big East is being litigated as the school is challenging the 27-month exit clause they had previously agreed to in the Big East bylaws.
- Brooklyn’s James Buchanan High School turned out no notable basketball products, despite some promising moments from Freddie ‘Boom Boom’ Washington. However, this is not an item about letters of intent. For this is an item about letters from Epstein’s mother. Those letters allowed Robert Hegyes (a.k.a “Juan Epstein”) to avoid many a detention session, or other such disciplinary action at the hands of Mr. Kotter. Of course Epstein’s mother and her famed pen were no match for mortality as the “Welcome Back Kotter” star, and Sweathog point guard, died of a heart attack yesterday at the age of 60.
(There is no such thing as James Buchanan High School in Brooklyn, but you know that already.)