Morning Five: Opening Night Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 14th, 2014

morning5

  1. It’s finally here. After having to write about academic scandals and other peripheral stories as we  tried to fill up this space with whatever news we could find for the past 7+ months we finally have real college basketball games to talk about again. While today’s slate may lack the blockbusters we will have in Indianapolis we have next Tuesday, but we might enjoy today even more. If that isn’t the case, you should find more than enough to keep you entertained until we get into the big-time match-ups.
  2. You won’t be seeing two of the bigger names in college basketball due to recently announced suspensions. Southern Methodist senior forward Markus Kennedy, 12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game last season, has been ruled academically ineligible and will have to sit out the first semester meaning that he will not be available until after classes finish on December 17. While the school could try to work around the decision and play him that night against Illinois-Chicago we suspect that he would be out until December 20 when they play Michigan. Connecticut will have to wait one more game before transfer guard Rodney Purvis will be able to play for them as the NCAA ruled that he will have to miss one game because he participated in more than one summer league game. Purvis is the third significant player who will have to miss at least one regular season game to start the season because of this rule (Duje Dukan and Michael Cobbins being the others).
  3. You can file this under “New season, same story.” As we mentioned earlier this week we have just entered the early signing period. Most of the major prospects haven’t committed yet, but two of the bigger ones did yesterday and much like in previous years the hot names–Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labisseriecommitted to Kentucky. The two five-star prospects are both borderline top 10 recruits overall in their class and give the Wildcats stars at two of the hardest positions to fill in any recruiting class (Briscoe at point guard and Labisserie at center). This doesn’t necessarily mean that John Calipari is going to clean up on the recruiting trail again, but it looks like things are going to stay the same.
  4. Speaking of Labisserie, on Wednesday his AAU coach told CBS Sports that Labisserie’s handler guardian had approached him looking for ways to profit off of Labisserie. Now we take anything an AAU coach says with a grain of salt because as a group they don’t have the most sterling reputations. This isn’t to say that he is lying and even if he isn’t lying simply asking about how to profit (from an intellectual perspective) wouldn’t break any rules that we are aware of. Still you can be sure that the Kentucky haters will be latching onto this storyline (and Labisserie’s interesting senior year situation) up until the day that the NCAA makes a decision about his eligibility.
  5. Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall is expected to meet with the NCAA on Tuesday to discuss its investigation into his time at Southern Mississippi. As we have previously mentioned in this space the NCAA is looking into possible financial aid packages that were offered to players before they actually were allowed to receive scholarships. According to Jeff Goodman, the players in question are Matt Bingaya and Shadell Millinghaus. For its part, Tennessee claims that it very thoroughly vetted Tyndall before hiring him and for their sake we can only hope it was thorough enough. Its unclear what kind of timeline the NCAA is planning on working with, but we imagine that all parties involved would want a resolution as soon as possible.
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Morning Five: 10.27.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 27th, 2014

morning5

  1. Once North Carolina released the findings of the independent investigation into the widespread academic fraud at its institution the next obvious step was to hear from Roy Williams, who spoke about the issue at a press conference on Friday. Williams stated he “thought we were doing the right thing” at the time and noted his reported initial concerns about the high number of players from his 2005 title team that were so many African and Afro-American Studies majors. We aren’t sure whether we believe that Roy (or any other coach involved in this type of scandal) actually cared to know about what was going on or just preferred not to worry about the details of how the sausage was made in his program. The next step in this process is what the NCAA will do with the school. Dennis Dodd has already come out in favor of  the death penalty, but acknowledges that it won’t happen.  Given the widespread nature of the scandal we understand the sentiment, but find it unlikely that the NCAA would touch one of its sacred (cash) cows. Not to be outdone by their new ACC rivals, Syracuse already has its day(s) in (NCAA) court set for October 30 and 31. These allegations go back 10 years and involve both the men’s basketball and football programs with the biggest charges revolving around extra benefits and academic issues with the basketball team. We can’t wait for the weekly ACC conference calls.
  2. We knew that we would have to deal with teams losing players to the professional ranks at some point this season we just figured that it would be after the season actually started. Charlotte junior shooting guard Shawn Lester is leaving the program to pursue a professional basketball career. Carter, who was second on the team in scoring last year at 11.9 points per game, is reportedly looking for an agent with a plan on signing overseas. Even with the loss, the 49ers will still have four returning starters and ad Florida transfer Braxton Ogbueze as well as freshmen Keyshawn Woods and Torin Dorn Jr. Although Lester’s reasons for leaving are unclear (reportedly under the pretense of supporting his family financially), he is the fifth player to leave the program early since the end of the 2012-13 season.
  3. We are just a few weeks away from the start of college basketball season so we can only imagine the panic in Madison when it was reported that Sam Dekker sprained his left ankle at a Friday practice. Dekker, who averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds per game last season and is a potential All-American, sprained his ankle during a 4-on-4 drill and is only expected to miss one to two weeks as he recovers. Fortunately Wisconsin has a relatively easy start to the season before they play Green Bay on November 19 at which point we would expect Dekker would be back at full strength based on the information that Wisconsin is providing.
  4. It won’t make up for the loss of Emmanuel Mudiay or (possibly) Markus Kennedy, but Southern Methodist got a boost when the NCAA ruled that Virginia Tech transfer Ben Emelogu had been granted a transfer waiver and would be eligible to play this season. Emelogu, who is from Dallas, averaged 10.5 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists as a freshman last season. Emelogu could also provide some stability to the team, which has been in flux the past few month as he actually was a team captain last season despite being only a freshman. If they can get Kennedy back, the Mustangs have the potential to be a dangerous team even if the person who was going to save them is on the other side of the planet.
  5. With all the crying about the rivalries lost with conference realignment a number of schools have figured out ways to keep those rivalries intact at least temporarily. The latest two school to do so are Connecticut and Georgetown, which will renew their rivalry for at least two years beginning with the 2015-16 season. The first game will be played on January 23, 2016 at the XL Center with the return date at the Verizon Center on January 21, 2017. While the rivalry might lack the history of others (remember Connecticut was nothing before Jim Calhoun got there), the Hoyas only lead the series 35-29 with the two schools each having a record seven Big East Tournament titles (something the Hoyas should be able to reclaim now that Connecticut is in the AAC). We are sure that we will be seeing plenty of clips of Allen Iverson and Ray Allen going at it in the lead up to these games.
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Morning Five: 10.21.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 21st, 2014

morning5

  1. The NCAA’s next big fight appears to be drawing near after Chris Christie signed a sports gambling bill essentially legalizing it in New Jersey. That move would enable New Jersey to start offering sports gambling. One location, Monmouth Park, is reportedly looking to start offering it this coming weekend.  It should not come as a surprise that the NCAA and various professional leagues filed a lawsuit yesterday attempting to block such a move and will reportedly file for immediate injunctive relief today. At issue is the 22-year-old Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act that barred sports gambling outside of a few select areas in the country. According to some state officials that decision should be up to the individual states and not the federal government (yes, the issue of “states’ rights” does come up outside of the Deep South). Our guess is that the injunction will be granted and this will be dragged out into a long and fairly messy affair.
  2. We have heard about so many investigation in college sports that we had almost forgot about the one involving Syracuse. Unfortunately for them, the NCAA has not and has invited school officials to attend a hearing later this month regarding the findings. While neither Jim Boeheim nor other school officials would speak to the case directly it appears to revolve around Fab Melo’s academic record and presumably others from around that same time period as well as an alleged sexual assault case in 2007. Given the way the NCAA operates (slapping schools on the wrist if at all and crushing student-athletes) we wouldn’t be surprised to see the school leave the investigation unscathed.
  3. On Thursday, ESPN released its Coaches Poll on Thursday and it should not come as much of a surprise that Kentucky came in at #1 followed by Arizona, Duke, Wisconsin, and Kansas. While the order of top five should not be surprising, Kentucky’s margin might be grabbing 24 of 32 first-place votes. As Mike DeCourcy notes despite all of Kentucky’s depth they do have some issues they will need to deal with including four particularly problematic ones. Some of the issues are clearly bigger than others ones, but we are sure Kentucky fans are aware the team will have to deal with these issues once the season starts and hopefully expectations are reasonable in Lexington. Well at least as reasonable as they can be there.
  4. Injuries at this time of year are always a concern, but Maryland might consider itself lucky that Evan Smotrycz will only be out for 4-6 weeks after fracturing the fifth metatarsal on his left foot. Smotrycz, who averaged 11 points and 6 rebounds per game last season, is expected to have surgery later this week.  Based on his estimated return to action he could miss as little as two games, but could potentially miss games against Arizona State, Iowa State, and Virginia if his recovery time is prolonged. Loyola might not be as fortunate as Milton Doyle, who lead the team in basically everything last year–scoring at 14.9 per game, assists at 3.6 per game, steals (38) and blocked shots (23) as a freshman–is out indefinitely with a torn labrum. Doyle, a Kansas transfer, will undergo five to six weeks of rehabilitation at which point he will be evaluated for the possibility of season-ending (7-9 month recovery) shoulder surgery. Southern Methodist doesn’t have an injury issue, but they do have an eligibility one with Markus Kennedy, who according to reports might not be academically eligible at the start of the season. The loss of Kennedy (12.4 points and 7.1 rebounds per game) would be another massive blow to the Mustangs, who are already dealing with greatly diminished expectations following the departure of Emmanuel Mudiay to China. Losing Kennedy would likely eliminate any hopes of the Mustangs making the NCAA Tournament this season.
  5. We have heard about players getting homesick after leaving high school, but apparently transfers can get homesick too very quickly (or at least it seems that way). Just a few months after transferring from Loyola Marymount to Marquette, Gabe Levin has decided to head back west as he is transferring to Long Beach State. Levin, who averaged 11.1 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game as freshman last season was going to sit out this season as one of the rare transfers who did not have a waiver. Now with his transfer to Long Beach State we are assuming he will not have to sit out any additional time, but it does raise questions as to his reasons for leaving Marquette so quickly (saw the writing on the wall with the incoming recruiting haul?).

EXTRA: Make sure to check out rushthecourtTV on Youtube for video M5s as well as plenty of other coverage throughout the season. 

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Morning Five: 07.31.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on July 31st, 2014

morning5

  1. It seems like just yesterday that Pauley Pavilion was being renovated (ok, maybe two years ago), but the court that has been home to more men’s Division I national championship teams that any other might need a little touch-up. A flood on Tuesday at UCLA‘s campus may have caused serious damage to the floor and other areas of the arena not to mention other buildings on the campus. While the flooding has stopped it will probably be several more days before the school has a better understanding of how much work will be needed to fix whatever damage has been done.
  2. The decision by Chad Frazier to leave UAB following his domestic violence arrest should not be completely unexpected, but is still a significant loss for the team. Frazier, who transferred from Gulf Coast Community College, was first-team All-Conference-USA last season and the conference’s Newcomer of the Year. Frazier averaged 17.7 points and 4.3 assists per game last season putting him fifth and third in the conference respectively. Frazier was arrested following a domestic violence incident in April in which he reportedly threw a woman into a bookshelf. It is unclear where Frazier will end up, but with his production we wouldn’t be surprised to see him back at the Division I level in the near-future.
  3. Nobody ever said John Calipari’s methods of building a #1 recruiting class and it turns out that they aren’t, but probably not in the way that you were thinking. According to work done by Kyle Tucker, Kentucky spent $342,713.91 on Calipari’s private jet costs last year for recruiting and nearly $450,000 between the basketball and football programs for private jets for recruiting. There are plenty of people who have made comments critical of these types of expenditures on something as relatively unimportant as college athletics, but that money is more than worth it for the school with the publicity that they get from the program’s accomplishments (well, at least the basketball program).
  4. Some people might consider it an admission of guilt, but North Carolina is offering student-athletes who left the school before they completed their undergraduate degree the opportunity to return to complete that degree with financial support similar to what they received under their original scholarship. The program (“Complete Carolina”) will go into effect beginning with the 2015-16 school year. The school claims that it has informally had this program for years, but now is making it a formal program like many other schools already have. We still aren’t sure if they will offer this program to student-athletes, who received diplomas, but feel that they might not have been taught enough or done enough to earn the credits that they received.
  5. The NCAA might not allow alcohol sales at its championship events, but that does not stop from doing so at games outside of the NCAA Tournament. According to reports, Southern Methodist sold more than $350,000 in alcohol at 13 home basketball games last season. That money is divided between the school and the vendor (no idea on the percent breakdown), but it gives you an idea of how much money alcohol can bring in at these games even with students pre-gaming (of course, all of them being 21 or older) if SMU can bring in that much money at 13 home games for a good, but not great team.
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AAC Tournament: Thursday Recap/Friday preview

Posted by Ross Schulz on March 14th, 2014

With the quarterfinals of the AAC Tournament in the books, we take a look at a few of the big takeaways from Thursday, as well as storylines to keep in mind on Friday.

What went down on Thursday

  • Thursday marked the only day of all-day action at the AAC Tournament, and the anticipation reached a fever pitch for the final match-up with the hometown team, Memphis, against Connecticut, the only game featuring two ranked teams. It did not live up to the hype. Memphis was thoroughly outplayed to the point of embarrassment while falling behind by as much as 25 before losing, 72-53. Connecticut won all three games against Memphis this season and the Tigers’ faithful, which began filing out of FedEx Forum with five minutes to play, has to hope the loss will serve as a wake-up call heading into the NCAA Tournament.

    Shabazz Napier and UConn flustered Memphis for most of the night. (AP)

    Shabazz Napier and UConn flustered Memphis for most of the night. (AP)

  • Houston opened Thursday’s play with an impressive upset of SMU. While the focus will be on the sliding Mustangs, who have now lost three straight games heading into NCAA Tournament, credit should be given to Houston and its offensive production against the stingy SMU defense in its 68-64 win. Jherrod Stiggers poured in five three-pointers and 19 points; L.J. Rose buried three treys in route to 16 points; and big man TaShawn Thomas had 14 points, nine rebounds and four blocks. The Cougars got it done on the defensive end as well, with Thomas coming up with a key block down the stretch to keep SMU from tying the game. Read the rest of this entry »
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AAC M5: 02.17.14 Edition

Posted by CD Bradley on February 17th, 2014

AAC_morning5_header

  1. The AAC has made the best of an odd situation in its inaugural season with half of its teams ranked last week and looking likely to go dancing come March. But two of its teams – Louisville and Rutgers – are making one-year stop-overs in the league before heading for greener pastures next year, to be replaced by several new members. One of the holdovers, Cincinnati, has a new athletic director who has explicitly stated as his top goal finding the Bearcats a new conference home. So when Connecticut won a dramatic overtime thriller over Memphis on Saturday, it was a bright spot for those who have hopes for the conference’s long-term prospects. A new rivalry between two teams with proud traditions – the Huskies have three titles, while the Tigers have made trips to the Final Four in three different decades – is exactly the sort of foundation upon which a more solid conference can be built.
  2. Sean Kilpatrick continued his stellar season with 28 points in a closer-than-expected win over Houston on Saturday, and afterwards his coach stepped up his campaign to get his star senior the respect he deserves. “I want to know a guard that’s better than him,” Mick Cronin said of Kilkpatrick. “Please, somebody tell me. I’m not talking about some freshman that’s gonna be who he’s gonna be five years from now. I’m talking about right now. Who is better than Sean Kilpatrick?” Even in a league with Shabazz Napier and Russ Smith, it’s difficult to come up with an answer to that question. Kilpatrick is averaging 20.1 points a game and has led the Bearcats, picked in the preseason to finish fourth in the AAC, to first place in the league and a top 10 ranking. He has been the best player in the AAC this season and deserves a spot on any All-American team worth the name.
  3. The history of Louisville’s program prominently features the dunk. After all, it’s all-time leading scorer, Darrell Griffith, was nicknamed Dr. Dunkenstein, and led a team known as the Doctors of Dunk. So it’s probably worth noting that sophomore Montrezl Harrell has tied the school record for dunks in a season with 59. Given that the Cardinals have six regular season games remaining, it seems like a safe bet Harrell will soon put Pervis Ellison and former teammate Chane Behanan in the rear-view mirror.
  4. It would have been easy to assume that Louisville coach Rick Pitino had simply forgotten his razor and been stuck in Philadelphia a day longer than originally planned when he rocked a five o’clock shadow Friday night at Temple. But Pitino, who famously got a tattoo after his team won the national championship last season, said after the game that the whole team, including the coaches, would grow beards until they lose again. “It’s the first time in my life that I’m trying to grow a beard, and it’s the first time I’ve looked in the mirror and seen multifaceted hair coming in, different colors,” Pitino said. His team’s sometimes dodgy defense earlier the year most likely contributed to those gray hairs, but they have clamped down as of late and won four straight to keep the facial hair growing.
  5. A week after returning to the top 25 for the first time in nearly two decades, SMU probably earned their way out of the rankings in their coach’s old stomping grounds. More importantly, Sunday’s loss to Temple is their second in three weeks to a team outside the RPI top 150; those are the kinds of bad losses that could force a slide down the seed lines come Selection Sunday. We’ll revisit their status in this week’s Bracket Watch, but suffice it to say they were in better shape before their weekend trip to Philadelphia.
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Morning Five: 02.14.14 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 14th, 2014

morning5

  1. The biggest news in college basketball right now is not the games that are being played, but instead the ones that are not being played. For the second night in a row, a significant game (or games–depending on your threshold) was postponed. Louisville-Temple and Southern Methodist-Rutgers might not have the national appeal of Wednesday night’s postponed Duke-North Carolina game, but they both have a significant impact on the NCAA Tournament picture. Unlike the Duke-UNC game, which will be played more than a week later, these two games will be played just one day later so it should not affect the teams scheduling too much. If you don’t think that timing of rescheduling makes that big of a difference wait until you hear the people on ESPN talking about Duke’s ridiculous eight-day stretch starting on Saturday–hosting Maryland for the last time in the foreseeable future, at Georgia Tech, at UNC, and home against Syracuse.
  2. We have heard of a lot of reasons for suspensions (mostly unofficial because schools are so vague with their reasoning), but we have never heard of a player being suspended for cursing, but that appears to be why Memphis suspended freshman Dominic Woodson. According to reports, Josh Pastner, who does not curse, became agitated enough with Woodson’s language during Wednesday’s game against UCF that he told Woodson to leave the bench and subsequently suspended him so he will not make the trip to Connecticut for the team’s game on Saturday. We are not sure if it was a specific word that Woodson said that set Pastner off, but it is an interesting precedent given how many players and well-known coaches use profane language during games.
  3. Speaking of suspensions, prior to last night’s game against St. John’s, Kevin Willard announced that he had suspended seniors Brian Oliver and Eugene Teague indefinitely for coming to a practice “with not great attitudes”. If that is actually the sole reason for their suspension we suspect that indefinite won’t be that good. We would suspect that there probably is something more going on here than just this one practice, but with the current state of Seton Hall and their one-point loss last night (a combined 22.1 points and 11.3 rebounds per game could have been useful)  we doubt that they will be out very long even if Kevin Willard’s contact goes through the 2019-20 season.
  4. This week’s edition of Luke Winn’s Power Rankings starts off point guard-heavy, but the statistics that jumped out to us were the statistical comparisons for Duke and Michigan based on their Ken Pomeroy adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency scores. There are not any particularly strong predictors for how those teams fare in the NCAA Tournament, but it is interesting to see the historical comparisons. It was also amusing to see how ridiculous the adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency numbers were for the 2005-06 Gonzaga team was. If you are having trouble placing that team, their season ended with Adam Morrison crying on the court.
  5. With this weekend being NBA All-Star Weekend, SI.com decided to put together their own NCAA All-Star teams using a two team draft. Our biggest takeaway from this is that as usual we tend to agree with Luke Winn that the draft order was inexcusable (sorry, Chris). The two teams obviously end up being pretty solid even if we would question the starting lineups. We cannot understand starting Nik Stauskas over Gary Harris (assuming that he is healthy, which is how it appears that this seems to be done). We would be a bit more interested in seeing how this would turn out with a few more people picking teams since the talent is so concentrated with just two teams being formed.
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AAC Bracket Watch: 01.28.14 Edition

Posted by CD Bradley on January 28th, 2014

Can the AAC really get five teams in the NCAA tournament? That seems to increasingly be the consensus from the bracketologists looking toward March. Now that we’re roughly two-thirds of the way through the regular season and already approaching the halfway point of conference play (and fewer than 50 sleeps from Selection Sunday), it’s time to take a good look at where the five AAC hopefuls stand.

Mick Cronin is Doing a Fantastic Job This Season

Mick Cronin is Doing a Fantastic Job This Season

Before we consider the contenders, we should note the pretenders. When conference play was about to begin, we noted the substantial divide between the top five teams and the bottom five teams in the conference. That gap has only widened since then. The top half – Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, UConn, and SMU – are 21-1 against the bottom five, with the lone loss coming on the first day of conference play when UConn slipped up at Houston. That is also the only win the bottom half has had against the RPI top 50. At this point, none of the bottom tier appears to have any shot of dancing come March, so we’ll focus on the live contenders. One thing they have in common is that each ranks higher on KenPom than the RPI. Their relative under-ranking in the RPI stems from generally weak non-conference schedules, about which nothing can be done now with one exception; Memphis hosts Gonzaga on February 8. It also provides these quintet with a little less room for error, and each team would be well advised to not slip up against the bottom half of the league the rest of the way. Now, let’s break down these five teams.

Cincinnati: 19-2 (8-0), 3-2 vs. RPI top 50, RPI #24, KenPom #22. On December 14, the Bearcats got rolled by crosstown rival Xavier, falling to 7-2 with their best win over an N.C. State team existing far from the bubble. Since then, they have won 12 in a row, including a neutral court win over Pitt, a home win over SMU, and a win at Memphis. Their last six games have all been over teams from the bottom half of the conference, but things are about to get much tougher; six of their last 10 are against the top half of the league. The Bracket Matrix shows a consensus projection of #5 seed for Mick Cronin’s team, but a higher seed is in play if it can at least split those six games and add a quality win or two in the AAC Tournament. That seems like a tall order for a team that struggles to score (#113 in offensive efficiency, per KenPom), even for one that is #5 nationally in defensive efficiency.

Read the rest of this entry »

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AAC M5: 01.28.14 Edition

Posted by Ross Schulz on January 28th, 2014

AAC_morning5_header

  1. Southern Methodist had high expectations coming into the season, and so far, the Mustangs have lived up to it. After taking down Houston Sunday, Larry Brown’s squad has already surpassed its win total from a season ago with 16. Brown hopes his second year team is far from done. With highly-touted Emmanuel Mudiay set to arrive on campus next season, many thought the Mustangs were a year away from being an NCAA Tournament team. If the season ended today, however, SMU would most likely represent the fifth AAC squad to lace them up in the Big Dance, which would be the first appearance since 1993 for the school. The Mustangs are projected at an average of an 11 seed at bracketmatrix.com finding a spot in 56 out of 67 projected fields. But, it’s only January 28, and SMU still has to play Memphis twice and Cincinnati, Louisville, and Connecticut once more. If SMU can come up with wins in two of those match ups and continue to beat the teams below them in the standings, they shouldn’t have to sweat much on Selection Sunday.
  2. While on the court everything seems to be going right for Larry Brown and SMU, a troubling report surfaced yesterday about a possible grade change in high school for freshman Keith Frazier. A top-50 recruit, Frazier had a least one failing grade changed to passing, according to an internal investigation by the Dallas Independent School District. According to the report, Frazier was behind or failing in three classes in the final days of school in 2013, putting in NCAA eligibility in jeopardy. On May 29, a week after the final days of class for seniors, Frazier’s failing grade in physics was mysteriously changed to passing. The report doesn’t look good for Frazier, and depending what SMU knew of the situation, it could become a problem for the university. Frazier is averaging 5.6 points for the 16-4 Mustangs. SMU issued a press release later in the day refuting what they call the “misinformation” that had been released.
  3. Former Louisville forward Chane Behanan has decided to transfer to Colorado State. Behanan will be eligible after the first semester of school next season. Behanan was dismissed from Louisville in December and then went to Houston to work with former NBA player and coach John Lucas. Lucas runs a drug and alcohol treatment program for athletes and coaches. Rick Pitino previously mentioned Colorado State and head coach Larry Eustachy as being a good fit for Behanan. Eustachy has overcome alcohol issues in his past and has a strong record of accepting and succeeding with transfer. Behanan said he wants to get his degree. Behanan helped the Cardinals demolish Eustachy and Colorado State 82-56 in the round of 32 in last season’s NCAA Tournament in route to the national championship.
  4. Kevin Ollie knows one area where Connecticut has to improve to be successful the remainder of the regular season and into the post season: rebounding. To find the Huskies’ rebounding margin rank on the NCAA’s statistics website, you have to scroll down four pages before landing on the 165th-ranked Connecticut squad. Many of Jim Calhoun’s teams’ best offense was the missed shot, allowing the bigger and stronger Huskies the chance to hit the offensive glass. This team is nothing like that. But that doesn’t mean it has to become a great rebounding team; it only has to become adequate to keep the game close (against the upper AAC teams and in the NCAA tournament) enough to allow Shabazz Napier to do what he does best.
  5. Although the bottom of the league is performing at an astoundingly bad level, the AAC as a whole is performing better than most people predicted. Five teams have strong chance of making the NCAA Tournament, led by surprise leader Cincinnati and Louisville. Memphis and Connecticut are also in or have spent time in the top 25 and SMU continues to win and is projected at an average of an 11 seed at bracketmatrix.com finding a spot in 56 out of 67 projections. Securing NCAA tournament bids for half the teams in the conference would have to be viewed as a success for the first-year league. The American ranks ahead of the SEC in Ken Pomeroy’s power rankings and just behind the Pac-12 and the ACC.
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Morning Five: Veterans Day 2013 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 11th, 2013

morning5

  1. You might have noticed that Friday was the start of the college basketball season. Despite all the hype surrounding it as usual we would advise you to not get too worked up over any of the results, but if you need a recap of some of the sights and sounds surrounding the night’s events, we suggest you check out our post on it from Saturday. None of the games over the weekend produced any particularly shocking results although there were a few interesting results that could have implications down the road (like Oklahoma’s win over Alabama), but that should change later today with the 24 Hours of Hoops kicking off (here is the full schedule if you need a refresher).
  2. Southern Methodist‘s chances of surprising teams in the AAC took a hit over the weekend as Jalen Jones, who led the team in scoring and rebounding last season, announced that he was transferring. As we have stated before several times on this site, Larry Brown has brought a lot of good to the SMU program including making them a player in national recruiting particularly with top Texas recruits. However, the other thing it has added to the program is a measure of unpredictability with players competing for minutes and nobody being sure of their role. Our question is if the top player on the team transfers because he is unhappy with his role on the team how many other players are questioning their role on the team.
  3. Rutgers finally got news from the NCAA that freshman forward Junior Etou was ineligible to play the first six games of this season for reportedly accepting impermissible benefits last year. Etou, the first high schooler to commit to Rutgers after the Mike Rice incident, is originally from Congo and according to the NCAA the “benefits” he received were from overseas. Based on what we have heard out of Rutgers it appears that they will not try to appeal the ruling. Fortunately for the Scarlet Knights their first six games are against relatively easy competition before they play (out-of-conference) Seton Hall. Yes, that last sentence felt weird.
  4. Coming into the season as the defending national champs we knew there would be quite a bit of focus on Louisville (even if they are only the second-most interesting team in their state). What we didn’t know was how much of that attention would be focused on the “off the court” stuff. We all knew that Kevin Ware and his return would make news, but didn’t expect him to be back in two weeks. A return at that time would come during an easy stretch for the team and would allow them to ease him back into the lineup without much problem. The more interesting return is that of Chane Behanan, who just a short time ago was off the Louisville team before he miraculously returned to Rick Pitino’s good favor. Behanan returned to practice on Friday and sat on the team’s bench on Saturday. Given how quickly Pitino has changed his mind on Behanan (and other matters) we would expect to see him playing in the very near-future.
  5. Lost amid all the Friday afternoon season opener chatter was a key ruling in the Ed O’Bannon likeness case against the NCAA. Federal district judge Claudia Wilken partially certified the plaintiff’s class action request made over the summer, allowing for all current and future student-athletes to join the case. The judge, however, denied certification to all former NCAA student-athletes other than the ones already attached to the case (O’Bannon, etc.), potentially saving the NCAA from the astronomical multi-billion dollar payout it could have faced. As Michael McCann explains in the well-written SI.com piece, there are good and bad implications to both sides as a result of this decision, and it also means with the scope of economic risk now settled that there’s a far greater likelihood of each side beginning to look at settlement options. Trial is scheduled to begin in June 2014.
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AAC M5: 10.29.13 Edition

Posted by CD Bradley on October 29th, 2013

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  1. Following up on last week’s release of ESPN Insider‘s preseason projections by Dan Hanner, analytics icon Ken Pomeroy dropped his own preseason rankings over the weekend. Like Hanner, Pomeroy has high expectations for the American in its first season; he has it ranked as the fourth-best conference in the nation, behind the Big Ten, Big East, and ACC. He also has defending national champions Louisville as his preseason #1, joined by Connecticut (#11) and Memphis (#16) in the top 20.
  2. Louisville coach Rick Pitino said Monday that Kevin Ware has resumed individual instruction and could begin practicing with the team by the end of the week. “He’s healed. He’s healed,” Pitino told reporters Monday afternoon. “His leg is as good as your leg or my leg.” Ware, of course, became a national celebrity after gruesomely breaking his leg during last year’s Elite Eight game against Duke, then urging his teammates to win the game while still laying on the court. “I don’t think he’s going to be bothered too much psychologically,” Pitino said. “He wants to get out there and play. I think he’ll be OK. He is dunking the ball with relative ease, and that tells you right there.” Ware’s return to the court will be a boon to a Cardinal team with a deep but short backcourt; Ware’s length and defensive prowess will be key to the team’s success this season.
  3. Also during Monday’s press conference, Pitino reiterated that junior power forward Chane Benhanan remains suspended indefinitely, but is making progress toward returning. “I have no idea when he’s coming back, but I’m really, really pleased because this is incorporating a lot of changes in his life that need to be made,” Pitino said. “One was discipline. Another was being on time or being early, I should say. Another was respecting everything you do in the right way because there are consequences and your team is suffering without you. Your team has high expectations, and you let them down.” We’re sure it is merely a coincidence that Pitino announced he has named sophomore Montrezl Harrell, who just so happens to share a position with Behanan, as a team co-captain, joining seniors Russ Smith and Luke Hancock with the responsibility. Harrell appears to be the first sophomore named a captain in Pitino’s Louisville tenure.
  4. Larry Brown’s SMU Mustangs bring back all five starters from last year’s team, but several newcomers might play just as big a role on this year’s squad. Brown has high hopes for junior college big man Yanick Moreira. “I love him because he comes to practice every day and he wants to get better,” Brown said of the 6’11” Moreira, who averaged 18.2 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game last season at South Plains College. “He loves to play. I’ve got to figure out the best way to use him. He’ll immediately be able to protect the rim and rebound.” Moreira looks likely to be the Mustangs’ starting center, one of three newcomers supplanting incumbents in the starting lineup. How Brown blends the returning players and newcomers, and how he balances playing time and egos, might be the biggest challenge facing the Hall of Famer in his second season in Dallas.
  5. Central Florida must figure out how to manage a step up in competition level without its best player of a year ago, Keith Clanton. Coach Donnie Jones has high hopes that three freshman might be able to help fill that void, even if it’s not immediately. None of the three – point guard Brandon Goodwin, wing Steven Haney, and big man Justin McBride – is expected to open the year in the starting lineup, but getting contributions from them will be crucial if the Knights are to remain competitive in their new league. “They’re hard workers, they’ve got great attitudes,” Jones said. “They’ve been a joy to coach, they love to play, and I think if you have those characteristics, you always have a chance to get better.”
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Morning Five: 08.30.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on August 30th, 2013

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  1. Like many other college basketball sites we have talked quite a bit about Emmanuel Mudiay’s decision to commit to Southern Methodist and how it could affect their recruiting forward. One thing that most writers glossed over, but Mike DeCourcy goes in-depth about is Emmanuel’s brother, John Michael, and how he could have a huge impact on the program even if he does not fill up the box score. While we remain surprised that Emmanuel turned down Kentucky and many other top-tier programs to come to SMU, the fact that he would enroll at a school to play with his brother (and a Hall of Fame coach) should not be that shocking. Having said that we will wait until Emmanuel actually matriculates before we are ready to officially put him in SMU’s column.
  2. In the wake of the NCAA laying down the hammer on Johnny Manziel, several media members and a few anonymous coaches/administrators have taken shots at the NCAA, but few individuals have as much reason to criticize the NCAA as former Miami guard Dequan Jones. You may remember Jones as the Miami player who was forced to sit out 11 games of his senior year after the NCAA took Ponzi scheme mastermind Nevin Shapiro’s word that a Miami assistant had asked for $10,000 to get Jones to commit to Miami before the NCAA finally backed down when they could not find any evidence against him (other than the word of Shapiro). As you can imagine Jones was less than thrilled with how the NCAA handled their investigation of Manziel in comparison to how his was handled. We suspect that Jones is not alone among athletes who have previously been targeted by the NCAA and walked away with much larger penalties that what Manziel incurred.
  3. We are a little over a month away from the new Midnight Madness, but there is still some movement within the coaching ranks. Normally the hiring of an assistant coach at a mid (or low)-major would not merit a mention here, but the announcement that former Boston College coach Al Skinner had been added as an assistant on the Bryant staff intrigued us. Gary Williams might remain the most well-known (and successful coach) to grace the Chestnut Hill sidelines, but it is Skinner who remains the all-time winningest coach in school history. Obviously Skinner left under circumstances that can best be described as less than ideal, but if this current stint at Bryant works out for him he could soon be in the running for some fairly prominent coaching vacancies.
  4. It has been a precipitous fall for Anrio Adams. After enrolling at Kansas (arguably the most successful program in the country in recent years) Adams found himself stuck behind Ben McLemore before a series of unfortunate tweets led to Adams’ departure/dismissal from the team. From there Adams wound up at Ohio (a solid, but not elite program). Now after his decision to leave Ohio after just two months to pursue options at the junior college level we have to wonder where he is headed next. Although Adams was probably never headed for the NBA this is not the ideal trajectory for a player who was once a 4-star recruit. We do not know Adams’ motivation for leaving Ohio, but at this rate we do not expect to see Adams playing a meaningful role at the Division I level any time soon.
  5. After a hot streak picking up transfers it appears that at least one of USC‘s transfers–Ari Stewart–will not be playing for the Trojans this season as the former Wake Forest transfer reportedly failed to qualify academically. Stewart, who sat out the 2011-12 as a transfer redshirt, averaged 3.4 points and 1.8 rebounds per game last season for the Trojans and would have helped the Trojans on the inside this season. Unfortunately for Stewart he already used his redshirt year when he transferred meaning that his college career is over. Thankfully for Andy Enfield he will have VCU transfer D.J. Haley available this season to take some of the minutes that Stewart likely would have had.
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