Morning Five: Independence Day Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 4th, 2012

  1. Happy ID4 to you and yours, folks. Try to stay cool out there but make sure to enjoy the barbecues, fireworks and time with family and friends that this holiday has come to represent. From our perspective, the Fourth isn’t just a celebration of the nation’s birthday (Happy 236th USA!), but it also marks just about the halfway point of the college basketball offseason. It’s been 93 days since Kentucky cut down the nets in New Orleans, and we’re just under 100 days until practice tips back off again with Midnight Madness. It’ll be here before you know it.
  2. People are still talking about last week’s NBA Draft, and with good reason. One of the top post-draft storylines among the blognoscenti has been how Harrison Barnes, Terrence Jones, and especially Perry Jones, III, and Jared Sullinger made poor financial decisions to stay in school for their sophomore seasons. It’s an easy ex post facto argument to make, but it ignores the fact that there are other extraneous values to sticking around campus for another year. Mike DeCourcy points out this very thing with respect to Jones and Sullinger through the prism of Indiana’s Cody Zeller, who, along with UNC’s James Michael McAdoo, is the top returning sophomore in college basketball next season. The key takeaway here is that even though players may have lost some of their elusive and fleeting upside by returning to school, they became better basketball players and more mature young men because of it. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and could pay additional financial dividends down the line.
  3. The Cody Zellers of tomorrow are of course already in the pipeline and it won’t be long before the Class of 2013 dominates all the recruiting news as elite prospects come off the board. As of today, only 15 of the Rivals top 50 prospects have committed anywhere, and only four of the top 25. But two names populating the top 100 recently made their decisions, and their ultimate destinations are places more familiar with the matriculation of elite academic types rather than athletic ones. This week Northwestern received a commitment from Jaren Sina, a player ranked #86 by Scout and #106 by Rivals, who is the highest rated player that Bill Carmody has ever signed in Evanston. This comes on the heels of the March decision by Zena Edosomwan to play basketball at Harvard after doing an additional college prep year, making it possible that the Ivy League school that reached its first NCAA Tournament in generations last year will garner its first top 50 recruit in program history (Edosomwan is currently #66 on Rivals and moving up).
  4. In a mid-major episode of the high stakes world of conference realignment, you may recall that Boston University announced last month that it was leaving the America East Conference for the Patriot League. As a result, the America East announced yesterday that BU would not be allowed to participate in next year’s men’s or women’s America East Tournament in Albany, NY. Citing league bylaws that were instituted in the mid-2000s after Northeastern’s departure to the CAA, BU will suffer the punishment no matter how good next year’s team might be. On the above-linked article, a commenter named “BU Athlete” said that he is “a BU Athlete and I feel absolutely heartbroken that someone who doesn’t even know the amount of effort I put in to my sport can ban me from playing my senior season.” It certainly sucks for the student-athletes such as this player (assuming his legitimacy) who probably doesn’t want to waste his senior year but also likely has no interest in transferring elsewhere at the last minute. Realignment — isn’t it fun?
  5. Finally, the 2013-14 NCAA Tournament Selection Committee has announced its next chairman, Wake Forest athletic director Ron Wellman (the 2012-13 chairman, in case you’ve forgotten, is Xavier’s Mike Bobinski). Wellman has two decades of experience as an AD for the Demon Deacons and is widely respected in the industry for building a strong athletic program despite Wake’s status as one of the smallest schools in the FBS (Division I-A). Wellman will need to see considerable improvement in his basketball team, though, if he hopes to have a chance to walk out of the room as his school is discussed next year — Jeff Bzdelik’s squad has a miserable two-year record of 21-42 (5-29 ACC).
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ACC Morning Five: 02.29.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 29th, 2012

  1. The Classical: This is a terrific article on Skip Prosser and his legacy at Wake Forest. Media and fans alike reference the Demon Deacons’ recent history of success a lot. They also talk about Dino Gaudio with mixed opinions. But rarely do they really talk about Skip Prosser. Maybe it was just too soon to have an honest conversation, but his death became the story. Matt Gallagher’s piece looks at the hope Prosser brought with him to Winston-Salem, the pride, the success and eventually the huge hole he so tragically left behind. If you don’t read anything else today, read this.
  2. ACC Sports Journal: Speaking of Wake Forest, Ron Wellman is in a tough spot. Lawrence Joel Memorial Coliseum is outdated and too large. Recently, reports surfaced that Wake Forest might buy the arena from Winston-Salem. It was originally built to compete with the Greensboro Coliseum, but falls in the awkward 14,000-seat range that’s much too big for small “college” bands, but far too small for the big-time acts. If there was more interest, a large capital campaign might allow for a new arena to be built, but it’s going to be hard to raise ~$100 million for basketball right now. Between the lack of success on the court and the economy, now is just not the right time.
  3. Atlanta Journal-Constitution: It may not be getting nearly as much publicity as Duke and North Carolina, but the Georgia TechBoston College battle tonight is for last place in the ACC. The bad news for the Yellow Jackets is they will be without their best player, as Glen Rice, Jr., will be suspended for the game. That said, they’re coming off their best win of the season against Maryland (without Rice), and beating the Eagles by four at home three weeks ago. Can they win their first road game since stunning NC State early in conference play? Is Brian Gregory’s system starting to take root? Tune into Raycom or ESPN3 at 7:00 PM to find out.
  4. Orlando Sentinel: Florida State struggled mightily to defend the perimeter against Duke and Miami. Before they get too down on their effort, I want to point them to a series of articles that Ken Pomeroy has posted recently on defense’s effect (or lack thereof) on three-point percentage. Those should be comforting, but don’t ignore the problem. Miami played small-ball against FSU because of Reggie Johnson’s injury, which proved difficult for the Florida State bigs to guard — especially on the perimeter. Duke also played an extra-three-point-threat-heavy offense because of Plumlee foul trouble. Is playing small the best way to beat the Seminoles?
  5. Duke Basketball Report: In honor of the date, Barry Jacobs took a look at all of the leap day games in ACC history. Duke is 3-1 in February 29 match-ups, with two wins coming against North Carolina. Meanwhile NC State has played seven times, losing four games on this date.

EXTRA: Jay Smith wrote an op-ed piece in the Raleigh News & Observer on the importance of the “student” half of student-athlete. The piece is directed specifically at North Carolina after there was backlash against a “statement of athletic principles” from a group of North Carolina professors. In the world of high-major athletics, my guess is that professors at most other ACC schools would agree. I personally think Smith undercuts the value of athletics, but I also understand his frustration.

EXTRA EXTRA: If you missed Duke’s game against Wake Forest last night, you missed the announcers and Blue Devils checking out late in the second half, as the Demon Deacons nearly erased a 23-point lead with a 19-2 run. Despite the remarkable run, the announcers kept talking about Saturday’s game. (h/t @RnR_NCSU)

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ACC Morning Five: 02.24.12 Edition

Posted by mpatton on February 24th, 2012

  1. Duke Basketball Report: It’s not often that you will see someone come to the aid of officials–especially those officials as visible and effervescent as Karl Hess (or Ted Valentine, Jim Burr, Roger Ayers, etc.). But “the Playcaller” does a good job taking a step back and writing a very thoughtful piece on Hess. The thesis is worth extending to almost any official you can name. It’s also a good reminder that officiating is really difficult. The primary difference between high-level high school basketball and college is the speed of the game. Players are faster, better coached, and more experienced. That certainly doesn’t make a game easier to call.
  2. Blogger So Dear: Sitting behind a bench is always a fun experience. You hear things and see things that television cameras miss (nervous tics, profanity-laced tirades and the general “aura” of the team. You can learn a lot from how players leave a game, or how involved the end of the bench is in the game. From the sound of things, Wake Forest is in a decent place. No one likes losing so the positive attitude on the bench is definitely a good sign for Jeff Bzdelik and his staff.
  3. Winston-Salem Journal: In less ideal news (it’s actually amusing these stories were published at the same time) for the Demon Deacons, Ron Wellman apologized to the Miami fan that Jeff Bzdelik swore at during Wake Forest’s loss last week. The good news is the fan seems happy with the university’s response. The bad news: it’s in the news. Coaches swearing at fans behind their benches isn’t good advertising.
  4. Associated Press (via Washington Post): Former Georgia Tech great Javaris Crittenton is back in the news. Crittenton was already out on bail for allegedly killing a woman in a drive-by shooting in August. He was arrested this time for speeding and obstructing justice (he refused to get out of his car).
  5. Cavalier Insider: Jerry Ratcliffe takes a look at the ACC’s bubble. Obviously Duke, North Carolina and Florida State are locks at this point. Virginia is very close to joining that group. But major questions lie in NC State‘s and Miami‘s resumes. Both teams are close, but both need work (NC State needs more than Miami). That’s why next Wednesday’s game at NC State is so huge for both teams.

EXTRA: John Gasaway does a great job looking at the RPI. He looks at its history, both past and present. “The RPI is not the best metric that anyone has come up with so far, but it did represent a great leap forward in 1981.” That’s just it. The RPI was (and still is for many Olympic sports) the best tool available 30 years ago. Now, there are more accurate rating systems. End of story. But you should definitely read this in the meantime. It’s long but worth the time.

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Tuesday Thoughts…

Posted by rtmsf on August 7th, 2007

Again these are thoughts that are bouncing around in our head but are too shallow to merit a full posting…

  • Wake Forest Coaching Search.  We’re not hearing anything out of The Dash that may indicate which way Ron Wellman is leaning at this point.  Anyone who knows anything is tightlipped.  We have to believe that if his plan is to elevate assistant Dino Gaudio or Jeff Battle to the head coaching position, then it would happen this week.  No need to prolong things.  If Wake doesn’t have a new coach by Friday, however, then that indicates to us that Wellman is putting feelers out to other coaches such as Anthony Grant, Mike Montgomery and Brad Brownell to gauge their interest.  Stay tuned…
  • Chamin-awed.  We thought this was a neat find (from a neat site).  Lion in Oil reports that Chaminade University, longtime giant-killer and host of the annual Maui Invitational, is sponsoring a contest to produce a new logo for its sports teams, the Silverswords.  Might we suggest a caricature of 6’2 Chaminade guard Tim Dunham dunking in Ralph Sampson’s face as the defining moment for that school?
  • Football Players Think Bloggers are Lame.  You may have caught a recent poll where they asked college football players the following question:
    •  Do you read message boards or blogs where fans discuss your team? 
    • 39.5% yes
    • 60.5% no
  • We doubt college hoopsters are any more or less savvy than their football counterparts, so we’ll assume the percentages are roughly equal for both sports.  Which is fine.  We wouldn’t want some of the guys we rip (cough, McBob) to come after us anyway.   Not because we’re afraid of him, mind you – rather, we just don’t want his unadulterated douchiness getting that close to us. 
  • Barry Bonds.   Now that the Greatest American Hero is set to spend the next week grounding out as he endeavors to assault the MLB record books one last time, we always wondered what could have been.  BB was regarded as the best all-around athlete at Junipero Serra HS in San Mateo, CA, a school with no shortage of athletes over the years (Jim Fregosi, Lynn Swann, Tom Brady).  According to his biographer Jeff Pearlman:

“Barry started as a small forward on the freshman basketball team [at Junipero Serra] that winter – a quick slasher with decent court vision, a mediocre outside shot, and no right hand to speak of.  But the athleticism was otherworldly.  Whereas many of his peers struggled to touch rim, Barry dunked and swatted shots off the backboard.  He was unlike anyone Serra had seen in years.  And this was his second best sport.” 

  • So there you have it.  Bonds was a sick athlete for a high school freshman, but unlike say, Dave Winfield or David Justice, he likely wasn’t skilled enough to ultimately become a great hoops player.  We should all be thankful for that.     
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Posted by rtmsf on August 1st, 2007

As the Wake Forest community struggles to begin the healing process after the shocking death of Coach Skip Prosser last week, fans and alumni are left wondering what will happen next?  While there’s a standard protocol in place for when a coach retires, leaves for another program or simply gets fired, there really isn’t one for something like this.  Wake’s AD Ron Wellman is facing some tough internal conflicts:

When is the appropriate time to begin talking about replacing a man that was so dear to the campus community?

How do you strike a proper balance between respect for the man’s family and legacy while also working in the best long-term interests of the school?

What do you say to the players and recruits about the direction in which the program will be going, as their lives and futures are most impacted by your immediate decisions?

Ron Wellman 

Wellman Has a Difficult Road Ahead to Navigate

We don’t envy Wellman’s position, as he is facing an extremely precarious situation.  Any decision made too rashly or emotionally could negatively affect the basketball (and overall sports) program for the next decade.  Any decision made too callously or calculatingly could result in a negative undercurrent that could also tarnish the integrity of the school and program.  The key for Wellman, as when he hired Prosser and football coach Jim Grobe, is to find a situation that appropriately balances all factors to the greatest extent possible.  MUCH easier said than done.

The Wake Forest message boards have already been buzzing about possible replacements for Coach Prosser, and as expected, they have fallen into two camps.  As best we can ballpark it, from half to two-thirds of Wake fans would like to see Wellman promote from within, giving either of Prosser’s assistant coaches Dino Gaudio or Jeff Battle a chance to lead the program without the dreaded “interim” tag attached.  There are a couple of recent precedents for this course of action – Northwestern promoted its top assistant Pat Fitzgerald when its head football coach, Randy Walker, unexpectedly died in July 2006.  Indiana did likewise with Bill Lynch when its head football coach, Terry Hoeppner, died of a brain tumor in June 2007.  Wellman may feel less pressure to make this move with the announcement today that the vaunted “AT&T” class of 2008 are expected to keep their verbal commitments to the school.   

The remainder would like to see Wellman open up a national search for a new coach.  Despite the lateness of the season in the coaching carousel, there is a reasonable expectation that some coaches would leave their current programs mid-stream in order to have an opportunity at an ACC school with a top-rated recruiting class set to arrive.  The most commonly discussed names (with positives and negatives below) are:

  • Mike Montgomery – former head coach of Stanford (1986-2004) and the Golden State Warriors (2004-06)
    • Monty is the only former D1 coach out there who is currently available.
    • He fits the “profile” in that he ran a clean program in a strict academic environment at a small private school competing in a BCS conference.
    • Very successful at Stanford and Montana (25 winning seasons in 26 years), including a F4 appearance in 1998.
    • Would a long-time California guy want to move to the east coast?
    • He is sixty years old – would he have the requisite drive and/or interest at this point in his life?

Mike Montgomery

Can Wake Lure Monty out of Retirement?

  • Anthony Grant – current VCU head coach (2006-present) and former uber-recruiter under Billy Donovan at Florida (1996-2006)
    • Clearly he’s on the fast track to a major job – it’s simply a matter of when and where?
    • Plays an exciting uptempo style of ball honed while on staff with Billy D at Florida.
    • Has shown he can beat Duke in March.
    • Only one year of collegiate head coaching experience (although a very good year at VCU).
    • 41 years old – inexperienced, but potential to become Wake’s coach for the next 25 years. 

Anthony Grant

How About Anthony Grant?

  • Gregg Marshall – current Wichita St. head coach (2007) and former Winthrop head coach (1998-2007)
    • A (South) Carolina guy who is familiar with the ins and outs of recruiting in the area as well as the ACC.
    • Just took a job with Wichita St. in April 2007 after nine very successful seasons at Winthrop – too disruptive and unfair to WSU?
    • Style of play could be a problem – Wake fans tend to want to play uptempo basketball, and Marshall’s teams are slower than Xmas. 
    • 44 years old, but experienced and very successful considering he was at a Big South school for nine seasons (7 NCAA appearances)
  • Bob McKillop – current Davidson head coach (1989-present)
    • Another coach familiar with the landscape of the ACC, having worked and recruited in the area for nearly two decades.
    • Tremendous success at a small academically-oriented school (4 NCAA appearances and 3 NIT appearances in the last fourteen seasons).
  • Brad Brownell – current Wright St. head coach (2006-present) and former UNC-Wilmington head coach (2002-06)
    • Another young (38 years old) up-and-comer who has had oustanding success in five short years at UNC-Wilmington (2 NCAAs in 4 seasons) and Wright St. (1 NCAA in 1 season).
    • Roots are in the midwest although he spent four recent years in North Carolina, so he should understand the lay of the land.

 Bob McKillop

Or a Darkhorse Like McKillop?

Whichever direction Wellman chooses to go, he undoubtedly has his work cut out for him.  Stay tuned, as we’ll be all over the story if something breaks. 


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