Morning Five: 03.05.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2013


  1. One of the many traditions of March is the avalanche of columns on a couple dozen coaches that are probably already living legends, but Kevin Armstrong’s great article on Steve Konchalski may be one of the few that you read on one of the great underappreciated coaches in college basketball having already piled up 826 wins. If you are wondering why you have not heard of Konchalski it is because he coaches in Canada and frankly very few people in the United States are even aware of Canadian college basketball. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if you were more familiar with Steve’s brother Tom, a New York City scout who has been the subject of several articles recently. Still it a worthwhile read on Canada’s Coach K, who might be a tad bit more fiery than the American version as the finger-biting story will illustrate.
  2. Over the weekend Ben Howland created a mini-firestorm when he said that Shabazz Muhammad would be leaving for the NBA after the season. The idea that Muhammad would be turning pro was not exactly groundbreaking, but the fact that his coach would say that at the beginning of March raised more than a few eyebrows. Yesterday, Howland backed off those statements and apologized for saying that without having discussed it with Muhammad, who later said he is still deciding. We are not exactly sure what made Howland come out with those statements (or play beer pong over the weekend with UCLA students), but while it was a questionable decision we are glad to hear a coach open up every once in a while even if he is only stating the obvious.
  3. We have seen plenty of straw men arguments over the years, but this column by David Woods on whether Butler could miss the NCAA Tournament is pretty high up there. We are willing to acknowledge the fact that Butler’s play as of late would be considered spotty at best and the possibility that a program of Butler’s caliber might miss the NCAA Tournament is not exactly unique (see last year), but we doubt that a team that has knocked off the #1 and #2 teams in the polls (like Butler did with Gonzaga and Indiana earlier this year) would ever miss the NCAA Tournament. Although Woods acknowledges that the possibility is far-fetched we think he is underselling just how unlikely it is.
  4. One of the best parts of March is watching an unheralded team shock a powerhouse program and make themselves known to the nation. We would be hard-pressed to include Lehigh in that category this year after their stunning upset of Duke last March, but they had the potential to play the role of Cinderella this March if they were able to get C.J. McCollum back from injury. Unfortunately it appears that McCollum may not be back in time for the Patriot League Tournament, which would most likely mean the end of his college career. Lehigh fans can hold out hope for a surprise run to the Patriot League title without McCollum (they are still tied for 2nd without him), but if this is the last we have seen of McCollum it was a pleasure watching him play in a Lehigh uniform.
  5. We don’t appreciate the competition, but we do appreciate the thought behind’s new basketball blog “One and One” spearheaded by Andy Glockner. Although it is early in the blog’s life we are interested to see what writers who have traditionally focused on writing magazine-style pieces will produce in the more modern blog format. We aren’t sure how many of Sports Illustrated‘s other writers will join in (Luke Winn has produced his own blog in the past), but if Glockner’s “68 Reasons We Love College Hoops in March” is any indication we are hopeful that they can create insightful/humorous pieces.
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O Canada?

Posted by nvr1983 on August 5th, 2009

I have to admit that the news that our fair sport of college basketball was adding an additional (provisional) member from north of the border caught me off-guard (been too busy trying to figure out what the NCAA is going to do with Renardo Sidney or how many guys are going to try to dunk on Jordan Crawford). Before all of the “States’ Rights” people start flaming the comment section with xenophobic rants, you should check out the article, which lays out the reasoning behind Simon Fraser University‘s decision to compete with American schools (essentially that it’s cheaper to travel to play American schools along the Pacific Coast than fly from British Columbia to the East Coast where most of the Canadian college teams are located). The NCAA’s decision allows the Clan (let’s hope they don’t have home white jerseys) to compete with provisional status, but they can become a full member in Fall 2012. I’m assuming that their provisional status precludes them from competing in postseason play, but they will still compete in regular season games against other teams in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

While the article by Joe Lemire makes it clear that we shouldn’t expect a sudden flood of Canadian college teams into the NCAA (or whatever they will have to call it), I would suspect that several other schools will explore the option. Although the entry of Canadian teams into American college sports will have a bigger effect on some sports than others (say goodbye to that NCAA hockey title Boston University), it could have a noticeable impact on college basketball. Competing at the NCAA level would mean that Canadian schools could offer full scholarships, which is something they cannot do under current CIS guidelines. This might be enough to entice some of Canada’s elite talent such as Texas recruit Tristan Thompson to stay within the country instead of heading to the US. Even though most fans would only be able to name Steve Nash if they were asked to list Canadian basketball players, our northern neighbors have also produced some notable players such as Jamaal Magloire, Bill Wennington, Greg Newton, and Todd MacCullough (ok, maybe it’s not that impressive) that might not have left Canada to play college basketball if they did not have restrictions on athletic scholarships at the time.

Well we know what Cartman thinks of this idea... (Credit:

Well we know what Cartman thinks of this idea... (Credit:

The more interesting question is whether or not the top Canadian teams that Lemire claims to be “the equivalent of low- to mid-level Division I schools” would join the NCAA. As Steve Konchalski (the “Canadian Coach K”) notes it would only really make sense for the top Canadian teams to aspire to compete at the Division I level. Would it be possible for one of these teams to sneak into the NCAA tournament? Could one of those teams eventually develop into a Gonzaga-level power? It seems unlikely, but movement by Canadian colleges into the NCAA would inevitably lead to some shuffling within conferences with Northern schools and potentially create some interesting rivalries (can’t wait for the first international incident between the Cameron Crazies and a Canadian school). At the very least it is something to keep an eye on in the next few years.

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