UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic plans to plead not guilty to his recent charge of assault stemming from an incident at a Hollywood concert in October. According to his attorney, Dragovic was only defending himself against a drunken aggressor who had slapped his friend, and when he tried to leave, the lout followed him. There’s no way to know what to believe here, other than what eyewitness (video) evidence brings to bear.
USC’s depth problems continue as junior forward Kasey Cunningham fell awkwardly during a weekend game and tore his ACL and medial meniscus for the fourth time in his career. Talk about snakebit. Kevin O’Neill is down to six serviceable players including Marcus Johnson, a UConn transfer who sat out two games serving an NCAA suspension. Any additional injuries for USC and the Trojans may need to have tryouts or draft some of Pete Carroll’s bunch over to the hardwood.
Ohio State guard Walter Offutt announced that he will transfer at the end of this quarter, with his destination presently unknown. The sophomore guard was expected to provide defensive minutes for Thad Matta’s short bench this year, but he didn’t see time in two games in New York last week, and could probably see the writing on the wall with most starters expected to return next year in addition to a strong recruiting class coming in.
An interesting development that Mike DeCourcy discussed yesterday involves the curious recruitment of Enes Kanter, a 6’10 Turkish player who has signed with Washington for 2010. A proposed NCAA rule (2009-22) would allow players such as those in Kanter’s position (having played in a professional league without taking payment) to play immediately, rather than taking a game-for-game penalty, as in the case of WVU’s Deniz Kinicli, who must sit the first twenty games of the season this year before becoming eligible.
Did you ever wonder how we got to the current situation where Thanksgiving week has become wall-to-wall basketball with all these preseason tournaments (not a bad thing)? Luke Winn has your answer in his usual well-written style. Four letters come to mind — E. S. P. N.
UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic was arrested and subsequently suspended by head coach Ben Howland for felony assault stemming from an incident at a Hollywood concert last month. This is the second physical-force-related arrest for Dragovic in the past two seasons, as he was also arrested on suspicion of shoving his girlfriend during an argument last year. He was not prosecuted for that allegation, but we’re starting to have serious reservations about the talented Serb’s anger management. UCLA is not off to a good start at all this season, including numerous injuries, a loss to Cal State Fullerton, and now an arrest to one of their top returnees all within the first five weeks.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined this year’s inductees to the National Collegiate Hall of Fame, along with several other luminaries of the game, including former Michigan State head coach Jud Heathcote, Oklahoma star Wayman Tisdale, all-time NCAA leading scorer Travis Grant, former UCLA/UAB coach Gene Bartow, USA Basketball leader Bill Wall, and Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA.
To that end, here’s a Bird/Magic story you probably don’t already know. From the KC Star, the two players were invited to compete on a World Invitational Tournament team coached by then-national championship Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall. Astonishingly, both players were put on the second string by Hall, and shockers, neither of them particularly liked that. Read about the whole story at the above link.
In case you missed it, the #1-rated power forward in the class of 2010, Tobias Harris, committed to Tennessee at the end of last week. The 6’8 player who likes what Tyler Smith has been able to accomplish in Knoxville is the highest-rated player UT has ever signed. He also considered Maryland, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia.
Minnesota freshman Royce White might be looking to plead out of his legal problems arising out of an incident with a security guard at the Mall of America. What this means for his future with Tubby Smith’s team? Status unclear.
These comments were never going to end well for Mississippi State junior forward Kodi Augustus. The repentant player will miss Thursday’s game against SE Louisiana and Saturday’s game against Bethune-Cookman. Surely MSU will be ok.
Purdue’s incumbent point guard, Lewis Jackson, who was already suspended for a variety of reasons, injured his foot last week and had surgery to repair the problem today. He’s officially listed as out indefinitely but Boiled Sports believes it will be for a month or more.
Your Big West Championship is moving across Anaheim from the Convention Center to the Honda Center. Get your tickets now.
Isiah Thomas got his first collegiate win at FIU last night. Yes, it was against NAIA school Florida Memorial, and yes it was only by six points (88-82), but a win is a win, and as Isiah said afterwards, “you start wondering if you’re ever going to win a game. I told the guys at halftime, ‘I don’t care how we win. I just want to win the game, go home, rub my dog, wake up in the morning and see the sun.” Mmm-hmmmmmm.
The Big Lead scored an interview with Dick Vitale recently, and the elder statesman (he’s 70!) of college basketball announcers riffed on Calipari/Pitino, UNC/Duke and one-and-dones. Worth the few-minutes read, and we hope to meet him again next week in NYC.
Virginia’s Jamil Tucker is taking an indefinite leave of absence from the team to deal with some personal issues — he averaged 7/4 last year in a reserve forward role, and Northwestern star forward Kevin Coble injured his foot in practice and could possibly miss time because of it. It’s currently unclear the extent of the injury, but he will be examined Friday and a determination will be made at that time. This could be devastating for Northwestern’s high hopes for this season. Moving away from injuries, there were some more suspensions yesterday, including Charlotte PF Shamari Spears, who will miss the 49ers’ first game on Friday against UNC Asheville, and Hawaii’s Douglas Kurtz, whose heart of darkness begins the season with a six-game suspension for playing three games in a Brazilian professional league in 2007.
Things aren’t going very well for Tubby Smith at Minnesota lately. One of his prized recruits, Royce White, who was already suspended for a violation of team rules and has recently caused trouble (shoplifting and assault) at the Mall of America, is now under suspicion for the theft of a laptop computer. We’re not exactly experts in this sort of thing, but is it safe to say that White will be at a junior college very soon?
In getting all the preview stuff together, we lost a little track of the news other than the endless suspensions and injuries…
NCAA Not Backing Down on Renardo Sidney. If the information that Gary Parrish wrote in his “Three Storylines” articles is true, then Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney may not play this season at all. According to the Sidney family attorney, the NCAA requested additional evidence beyond what the Sidneys gave them two weeks ago — specifically, “records that identify the sources of each [bank] deposit, cellular phone records for every family member since Jan. 1, 2006, records to indicate where every payroll check was deposited, etc.” To an untrained ear, that sounds like the NCAA isn’t buying what the Sidneys are selling. The evidence that the Sidneys previously provided — bank statements and the like — don’t mean a whole lot unless they can show the funds in those accounts are not a product of financial tomfoolery. So, what now for the Sidneys? MSU’s first game is against Rider on Friday night, so their only recourse might be to take things to court, but the NCAA could probably motion up/down/sideways until March to keep Sidney off the floor if it wanted to make a point. Even if Sidney sought injunctive relief in the interim, MSU is unlikely to play Sidney until he’s eligible by NCAA standards. Well, Jarvis Varnado and John Riek still makes for a nasty frontcourt, right?
Arkansas Suspensions. Courney Fortson and Stefan Welshwere indefinitely suspended by John Pelphrey today for their roles in various discipinary actions over the offseason. Additionally, reserve Marcus Britt will miss six games, freshman Glenn Bryant will miss two games, and walk-on Nick Mason will miss the fall semester. The latter three players were at a fraternity party last month where a student alleged several players raped her. The local prosecutor (who is related to Arkansas brass) said there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward, but the case has now been brought to a special prosecutor for further review.
Vegas Watch Mammoth Preview. It was finished over the weekend, so here’s the link to the entire thing in one place. The analysis we performed here reflects VW’s vision as to how to project the 2009-10 teams in a quantifiable manner, and we think he’s done a pretty damn good job at developing a formula that properly takes into account returnees plus incoming recruits. Keep an eye on things over there this week as he rolls out a list of the final projected ratings among the BCS conferences (and a few others) sliced and diced in various ways.
This is a new feature we’re going to try our best to keep up with. It’s very simple (which is good for us), but the premise is that we’ll drop five bits of college basketball knowledge and/or links to you in a format that synthesizes nicely with your morning caffeination ritual. In other words, short, sweet and piping hot. Here’s our first effort…
Seth Davis writes about one of our biggest pet peeves about the start of the college hoops season: no opening day. Yeah, we have a de facto opening day (i.e., today), but there’s hardly any hype about it and nobody but people who would already visit this site have a clue about it. Hopefully his article will start the momentum for getting something done.
Big day around here at RTC – be sure to check out our preseason wrap-up post here, and we’ll be at Cal tonight for the first RTC Live event of the young season. Bring your coffee along and watch some late night hoops with us at 11pm. Hope to see you there…
Tennessee Loses Another Player. This time it wasn’t under horrifically scary conditions, but senior guard Josh Tabb, who was already on indefinite suspension by Bruce Pearl, left the program to spend time with his ill mother. He only played 17 MPG last season, but he was fairly effective providing backcourt depth to Bobby Maze and Scotty Hopson, averaging 3/2/2 and shooting a high percentage from the floor (51%/42%). It’s looking more and more like UT will be playing five 6’7 guys at certain points of the season. UT: the Golden State Warriors of college basketball.
Stanford As Well. Sophomore guard Jeremy Green, an all-Pac-10 freshman last season, was suspended indefinitely by Coach Johnny Dawkins for violation of unspecified team rules. In relatively limited action last year, Green averaged 6/2 and shot 46% from three-point range, but he was expected to become a major contributor this season as the young Cardinal begins rebuilding. This comes on the heels of more bad news last week, when 6’8 freshman forward Andy Brown was lost for the season to a knee injury. Assuming we don’t see Green back in uniform this season, it could be shaping up as a long year in Palo Alto for Dawkins in his second year there.
Nimrod Will Play. Billy Donovan received good news from the NCAA this week, as the governing body cleared point guard and soon-to-be-opposing-fan-favoriteNimrod Tishman to play this season at Florida. The 6’5 Israeli freshman was a late pickup for the Gators after Nick Calathes bolted for the pros, but according to Donovan, he may not see much court action this season, as Erving Walker, Kenny Boynton and Ray Shipman are currently ahead of him on the depth chart.
Uncertainty About John Wall. The John Wall Circus continues in Lexington, as Coach John Calipari stated during last night’s post-scrimmage press conference that Wall “has been cleared in every way” even though the UK president, Lee Todd, is on record this week stating that the school and NCAA are investigating his association with Brian Clifton, his AAU coach who was also a certified agent at the time. Worst case is Wall pays back a little bit of money and misses 10% of UK’s games (Nov. 13 – Morehead State; Nov. 16 – Miami (OH); Nov 19 – Sam Houston State). Not a huge deal, although we’re pretty excited around here to see the guy play.
It was a very quiet weekend in college hoopsland, which is a good thing, because the RTC staff is working madly behind the scenes to get things together for the upcoming season. You guys realize that we’re seven weeks to the day away from the first game, right (Nov. 9 – FIU @ UNC in the CvC)?
Jeff Goodman wrote a post on his blog last week that asked the question of which teams in 09-10 could be categorized as the deepest in college basketball. He concluded that Big 12 stalwarts Kansas and Texas along with Kentucky are all bursting at the seams with nasty talent. We have no dispute with him there – you’d have to be blind to state otherwise. But after thinking about it a bit, we were left with the so-what question. Having 10-12 players at your disposal doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you’re willing to use them, and we wondered what Self, Barnes and Calipari’s coaching history could tell us about just how important that depth will be for them this season. Thanks to KenPom’s site, we did a quick analysis of how these coaches used their benches over the last three years (data was only available from 2007-09). As you can see in the table below, the two Big 12 coaches are much more likely to ride their starters over the course of a season than Calipari will. But none of them will often be accused of leading the way in bench usage. Of course, if we had players like Kevin Durant, Brandon Rush, Derrick Rose and so forth at our disposal, we’d probably be hesitant to bring in their backup also.
Luke Winn broke down his top ten nonconference schedules last week (among the good teams), and we really don’t have much else to say about his analysis, which is spot-on as usual. Calling out Big East teams Pitt and Syracuse was great, especially since we all know that they’ll use the excuse of being young this year (true), even though they always pull this never-leave-home stuff in the preconference slate (also true). We also noticed another oddity in Winn’s “Major Generosity” section, where he points out that UNC, Georgetown and Michigan St. will visit such titans as Charleston, Savannah St. and The Citadel, respectively, this season. Strangely enough, these three homestanding schools are within about a two-hour drive of each other. A weird confluence of luck , friendships and payback games means that the Low Country will be privileged to host three of the best teams in the nation on their turf within a six-week period starting November 21. If you live around there, get your tickets now – this will probably never happen again! Oh, and back at ya, Luke.
It has been a loooooong week around these parts, but now that we’ve crowned a Team of the 2000s, let’s move on to some other goings-on and nuggets of news floating around the college hoops world…
Comings and Goings. There have been a few announcements of players who are out for the upcoming semester as we’re heading into fall matriculation. The most notable are Villanova wing Reggie Redding and Florida big men Eloy Vargas and Adam Allen. Redding was suspended by the university arising out of an incident where marijuana was allegedly found in his car at an accident, but he is expected to return for the spring semester. Allen recently had surgery for a stress fracture and Vargas is academically ineligible for the fall semester. Although neither were major contributors for Florida in 08-09, they were expected to provide depth in the frontcourt this season. On the flip side, former Dookie Elliot Williams received his waiver from the NCAA and will be eligible to suit up immediately for his hometown Memphis Tigers this season.
2009 NIT Bracket. The pairings were announced a week ago, but we’re just now getting around to analyzing it. They’ve seeded the top four teams by region (#1 Duke, #2 UConn, #3 LSU, and #4 Arizona St) in a solid, if not spectacular, field. But did anyone else notice that they mismatched the seedings? Take a closer look at the thumbnail below. If the top eight seeds win their first game, then we should be left with pairings of 1/8, 2/7, 3/6 and 4/5, right? In this NIT bracket, #1 Duke would play #8 Charlotte, so that’s ok; but, #2 UConn would play #6 Hofstra, #3 LSU would play #5 WKU, and #4 Arizona St. would play #7 TCU. What’s the point of this? If you’re going to take the time to seed teams by expectation, you should probably do it properly rather than trying to slot teams based on regional travel convenience. Sigh… For what it’s worth, Duke seems to always win this thing, but depending on how quickly replacement players develop on the other top seeds, any of the others could surprise.
Memphis/Calipari Post-Mortem. Memphis plans to appeal the decision that was handed down on Thursday by the NCAA to vacate all 38 of their wins in 2007-08 as a result of using an ineligible player (Derrick Rose) and ‘accidentally’ providing said player’s brother flights on the team plane. If upheld (and it will be), Memphis will be on the hook for $530k in NCAA revenue-share funds to CUSA, but even more interestingly to those who say that the former coach is completely untouched by this mess, Coach Cal will have to return $300k in bonus money to Memphis as a result of the NCAA’s penalties. His $32M contract with Kentucky will help ease that particular pain, but these odd coincidences involving ineligible players really need to stop following this guy around if he expects to ever be taken seriouslyoutside of the Bluegrass State again. One other thing… failure to respond to mail? Really?
College kids today… they just don’t take their schoolwork seriously. Especially ones that haven’t taken a class in over fifty years.
(photo credit: Roane State College)
Ken Mink, the septuagenarian who couldn’t be slowed by the ticking clock with respect to stepping on the basketball court and competing with players one-quarter his age, was declared ineligible by the National JuCo Athletics Association (NJCAA) due to a pesky Spanish class that he needed to pass. From the FoxSports report:
Fearing he might fail the Spanish class, Mink said he enrolled in a Sociology class on another campus, hoping that a passing grade there would give him the credits he needed to retain his eligibility. But that class was apparently completed too late to apply to the semester in question. “This is not an academic issue, it’s an administrative issue,” Mink wrote in an email to the News Sentinel on Friday. “… the NJCAA is ruling me ineligible because the NJCAA contends Roane State did not follow administrative procedures in restoring my eligibility after the NJCAA had questioned whether or not one of my courses was completed within the fall semester. “Coach Nesbit supplied the NJCAA all the documentation proving my academic eligibility. Coach Nesbit knew I had met the requirements and restored me for play, but the NJCAA has contended the coach (or school) had not checked with the NJCAA a second time before restoring me to play.”
In what is becoming standard Mink-speak, it wasn’t his fault! Recall that the given reason Mink was kicked off of his Lees (KY) Junior College team in 1956 was that he was falsely accused of spraying the coach’s office with shaving cream. Fortunately for Mink’s version of this story, the aggrieved coach and his teammates are no longer alive or competent to answer questions. Now we’re hearing from Mink that it wasn’t the fact that he failed Spanish class, it was that there was an administrative problem with his eligibility. Somehow we’re having more and more trouble believing that Mink wasn’t involved as the evil mastermind behind the shaving cream incident a half-century ago.
What’s all this mean? Well, Roane St. will have to forfeit a game from Feb. 7 against Hiwassee where he played and scored two points. Given all these administrative headaches and public attention, maybe he should just shut it down and declare for the NBA Draft.
There wasn’t any lack of excitement this week and in some cases that excitement was also coupled with a bit of controversy.
In fact the Houston basketball program tested the adage that “any publicity is good publicity” during this past weekend when they played Arizona. However there were other storylines from the past week of action, albeit a bit less controversial than the aforementioned incident.
1.) Stompgate ’09: The unfortunate incident that made the most headlines this past weekend began with Arizona forward Chase Budinger drawing a charge call after a collision with Houston guard Aubrey Coleman. After the conclusion of that play, Coleman stepped on Budinger’s face in an act that looked equal parts negligent and malicious. Naturally this act enraged Budinger who was assessed a technical foul for his retaliation following the stepping. But the worst punishment was saved for Coleman, who was ejected for the flagrant foul. After watching the video of the incident and the reactions of both players, I’m convinced that Coleman deserved to be ejected and could have shown a lot more remorse immediately following the act. But the act itself was in my opinion, an attempt to show dominance over Budinger by stepping over him instead of around him. Something went horribly wrong in between and now we have a major headline story. It’s worth noting that Coleman’s had no other incidents this year at Houston or on his previous team at Southwest Mississippi Junior College. In the end, before rushing to crucify the young Mr. Coleman, we all must think of the “he who is without sin” line. Following the game, Coleman gave what appeared to be a sincere and remorseful apology.
John Stevens is a featured columnist for RTC. His columns appear on Tuesdays throughout the season.
I can’t believe how I soaked my parents when I was a kid. Right after Thanksgiving they’d start asking me to make a Christmas list so they could just go ahead and start buying me everything on it and I’d have yet another memorable holiday. My sisters did the same thing. True, we were good kids; we racked up enough academic and athletic achievements during the rest of the year to keep them stocked in stories to bore the crap out of their friends and the rest of the extended family with, but looking back on it, we were really lucky. Still are.
These days, when Christmas rolls around, my wants are not of games for my Atari 2600, or life-size Shogun Warriors, or the like. Today, I only ask for one thing for the holidays, and that is Time. I want to sit in the recliner at our home in the country with a drink in one hand and a remote control in the other, my brain awash in college basketball images, Christmastime tournaments and match-ups lighting up my television screen until I can hardly remember my own name. There will be family time, present-opening time, time for playing with the nieces and nephews of the family. All of that is fantastic and it can’t be beaten. But this year I’m especially looking forward to having the time to just devour Mom’s cooking, forget what my next obligation is, stay warm from the marrow-cracking cold outside, and enjoy some college hoops as we close the book on non-conference play for this season.
Santa is Checking John's Holiday Wish List
But make no mistake. I’m a giver, as well. I don’t just want those things above for myself, I want them for everyone. And as I got a headstart on things this past Saturday by watching some freaking amazing games, I couldn’t help but wonder – what would be my college basketball wish list for this year? Hey, sounds like a column idea! So, here goes. Six things I want inside the world of college basketball for this season. Why six? Because I say so. I even ranked them for you. You’re welcome.
John Stevens’ Holiday Wish List
#6. Davidson to find other options. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE watching Stephen Curry and his lightning-quick release go nuts for 42/8/10, and I don’t want to minimize the work by Andrew Lovedale (13.5 and 10.1), for whom I actually feel a little sorry. Its not easy being Salieri, is it? Those are solid numbers and yet almost nobody knows this guy’s name. But after him there’s just not a lot going on. I think this is something we all suspected but didn’t want to admit because we’ve been mesmerized by Curry’s game, and we wanted to think this Stephen could lead this team to heights even loftier than last season. That is yet to be disproved, but the Purdue game this past Saturday was damning. Davidson’s tournament chances hinge on other options emerging when Curry is smothered by excellent defense like he was this past weekend, or when he’s just plain having a tough shooting night. ESPN’s Pat Forde had a great article about this topic yesterday, incidentally. We’ve seen what Curry can do as a virtual one-man show. Now I’d like to see other fellows step up and for the team to go even farther even if it means that Curry might take a hit on his scoring average.
(Will settle for: more amazing feats by Curry; no matter how deep Davidson’s tournament run, Curry is that enjoyable to watch.)
#5. A nice airplane companion for my Vegas trip in March. I haven’t taken that many flights in my life, but the ones I have taken have been pretty lengthy and there’s only been one case where I had an enjoyable neighbor in the seat next to me. I was flying to California this past Summer to attend a friend’s wedding and the fellow to my right just happened to play Division I college hoops about 40 years ago. He told me stories of games he played against Wooden’s UCLA and Rupp’s Kentucky; the secret, behind-the-scenes stuff was amazing, some of the best sports stories I’ve ever heard. I sat there motionless and listened until he got tired and actually had to take a nap. But that was my only pleasant experience so far, as far as who I’ve had next to me on a plane.
We’ve all been there, haven’t we? You’re sitting there in your seat as the plane loads, watching who’s coming down the aisle, and every attractive girl who approaches you’re thinking, “Come on, come oooooon…” but then you end up getting some foul-breathed 400-pound pet store employee who didn’t have time for a shower that morning and wants to talk to you about how his life totally changed after he saw The Blair Witch Project. I don’t care if you’re single, married, or whatever, if you’re a male and you’re flying alone on a long trip, it’s the same. We all want the Padma Lakshmi or Robin Meade look-alike, or maybe the stray USC Song Girl, to slide into the neighboring empty seat, look at us with puppy-dog eyes and whisper to us about how she’s “the bad girl of the team” but, alas, doesn’t have a place to stay in your destination city. Hasn’t happened yet. Maybe someday.
Gals Like Her Don't Sit in Coach...
(Will settle for: the plane to land in one piece, both coming and going.)
#4. A Final Four for Gonzaga. I’m not affiliated with the place in any way – didn’t go to school there, never have even been to the state of Washington, though I’d love to visit – so here’s my thinking on this. I’m hearing more and more alleged college hoop pundits using the terms “high mid-major” and “low mid-major” to denote a certain cadre of teams that…well, I probably don’t have to explain it. A few years ago there were just mid-majors. A few years before that there were just the big time programs and the rest of the world. I kind of miss those days. Now we have teams that actually feel insulted when you call them a low mid-major when they think they’re a high mid-major, and so forth. That’s pure crap. Gonzaga was the first team to really relish the “mid-major” moniker since I’ve been into this sport and they’ve certainly put in their time. Mark Few has always come off as a perfectly nice guy and quite honestly his teams, without exception, play a brand of basketball that’s always been fun to watch for me, even though I can’t point to one particular thing that makes it so. We’re long past the honeymoon phase with Gonzaga, meaning that it was one thing when they did well in the tournament while nobody was looking, but for over a decade now we’ve come to expect more from the Zags. It’s important that they get to a Final Four when people actually expect something from them – like maybe this season. I specifically admire Josh Heytvelt’s comeback and Austin Daye’s a pleasure to watch. A Final Four would also move Coach Few more toward that elite level of coaches, which is due for a new member.
Another reason: go back a few years to another Vegas trip. Some of the boys and I are in the front row of a standing-only section of one of the sportsbooks watching the end of a game; the start of Gonzaga’s first game of that tournament was a couple of minutes away. The Gonzaga supporters – and there were well over a hundred of them – gathered behind us and were definitely a polite crowd, meaning no pushing or jockeying to steal a spot in front of us, or anything. And they certainly came prepared to support their team. They were a fun lot, and definitely social. Many of them started conversations with us and we shared a few beers and so on. Pretty cool, eh? Well, I noticed that from where I was standing, just behind and to the right of me was a pretty dark-haired girl in a big Gonzaga sweatshirt and an almost-empty beer in her hand. I figured I’d maybe talk to her before the game started, so I turned to say hello, when, at that very millisecond, she takes a deep breath and, at a deafening volume, belts out: “GOOOOOON-ZAG-UH BAAAAAAS-KET-BAAAAAALLLLL!!!!” The crowd behind her echoed this offering. I thought, “OK, she’s cool, probably knows the game, definitely loves her team. Here we go…” and I turned around again. What does she do? She lets fly another, “GOOOOOOOOOON-ZAG-UH BAAAAAAS-KET-BAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!” at twice the original volume. The crowd behind her really began frothing. I was impressed on one hand but hoped she would be able to at least carry a conversation or scream another cheer. I never really found out, because for the next two hours, at random times she would scream this same cheer, in the manner of the Detroit Pistons’ announcer Mason. I never heard her say anything except that as she kept pounding those beers. So, maybe if Gonzaga finally gets to a Final Four, this girl, wherever she is, will feel that her yelling has done its job and she can now preserve her voice, or learn another cheer. In all seriousness, they were good fans, and they deserve a Final Four.
This Was Not Her
(Will settle for: an iTunes gift card.)
#3. Eric Devendorf to get this nonsense settled and rejoin his team. According to the ESPN.com article, Devendorf’s suspension for introducing his hand to a female student’s face earlier this year is that he has to complete 40 hours of community service before he can ask to be reinstated as a student by Syracuse University and resume his place on the basketball team. The spring semester on the Syracuse campus starts January 12th and the Orange(men) have a game two days later at Georgetown.
Devendorf has said all the right things in the press since this incident, and he seems genuinely contrite. He probably knows that to sock a female student in the jaw with the heel of your hand for any reason is the move of a black-belt douchebag and I’d speculate he understands the need for punishment. Fine. 40 hours. I say get it done as fast as you can, Eric. Do a Monday-through-Friday, eight hours a day. Better still, do four ten-hour days. By getting it done quickly, you get it over with, and you send a message to your teammates that you really can’t wait to get back on that squad, if they’ll have you. You’re showing them that you want to miss as little game and practice time as possible. That ruling, in point of fact, came down on December 19th, which means that by the end of today you could been DONE with this if you’d have chosen the ten-hour-day option. Whatever schedule you can set – the point is, get it done as fast as you can. You’ll impress your teammates, you’ll fulfill your obligation, you’ll send a message to your coaches, and I bet you’ll return to the Carrier Dome to more cheers than anything. Your team is good, but they’re better with you there. Despite their curious history in the NCAA Tournament, they are a dangerous team this year and I wouldn’t want to be the guy responsible for Syracuse fans wondering how good they could have been.
(Will settle for: Nothing. This one’s not negotiable.)
#2. An end to the objectification of Miss Erin Andrews. That’s right. I’m going to be the champion for Miss Andrews’ cause. I think it’s high time that we recognize the hard work this woman puts into actually being a journalist, interviewing coaches at halftime when they’re more annoyed than anything and don’t want to convey any real information to the viewers. It’s thankless, and I for one want to say a big Thank You to Miss Andrews. And on top of all that, she has to do it while most of the viewers are wondering how snug her shirt is or how high her heels are, probably not even hearing what she’s saying. I can’t even fathom the catcalls she must endure from horny college kids while she’s just trying to do her job. I even hear that some sports blogs actually use any possible reason to post pictures of her on their sites, hoping to generate cheap pageviews. I am appalled! Who, I ask you, WHO would do such a thing?!? Anyway, I think we need to do a better job of showing her how much we love her reporting as well as her…*sigh*…looks. And, I dunno, if Miss Andrews feels like talking about this subject with me, she can use the e-mail link for this site located at right, and perhaps we can discuss it over dinner. Not that I said all that stuff above for that reason, or anything.
I Have No Objectification to this Photo of Ms. Andrews
(Will settle for: Not taking a beating. You see what I’m doing there, right? Remember that kid back in, like, the 8th or 9th grade who was friends with all the girls because he sucked up to them like crazy? You know the guy, he always thought he could parlay that ill-gotten friendship into something else if he wanted (even though the girls knew it would never happen) once he got to high school, and he liked to rub your nose in it a little. I ALWAYS wanted to administer a beating for the ages to that guy. If you see what I’m doing with my above paragraph about Erin, you’ll exempt me from a similar throttling.)
(Will also settle for: ESPN to make some airtime for another Andrews, namely Thea, who I always dug in a major way even though Cold Pizza was an abomination.)
And finally, the number one item on the John Stevens Holiday List for 2008 is:
#1. A Duke fan to admit that…it’s getting to be a little much. Well, this should be good. It all started with those American Express commercials a couple of years ago where Coach K talked about how he doesn’t just prepare you for basketball, he also prepares you for life, etc. Then I’m sitting watching the amazing United States victory over the Europeans in the 2008 Ryder Cup on TV earlier this summer and what do I see? A smiling Krzyzewski on my TV screen doing a lead-in to the coverage about every hour; I mean, it’s a GOLF tournament. And it happened in Louisville, which means that among college basketball coaches, Rick Pitino would have been a more appropriate choice. It’s an event that Coach K’s mug should have been nowhere near. In my opinion, the most mind-blowing example of the Coach K free pass is his weekly hour-long talk show on Sirius XM, called “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K,” now entering its fourth season. It’s basically an hour of Coach K hanging out with special guests, talking about basketball, talking about life in general, talking about whatever he wants.
Many people have argued that these appearances by Krzyzewski constitute a recruiting advantage, and it’s a tough argument to refute. He seems to be the only coach out there doing it, though it should be said that he’s probably the most desirable spokesman out there, as far as coaches go. But honestly, in addition to everywhere else he shows up, the guy’s got an hour of satellite radio time every week where he kicks it with famous friends and espouses his opinions on just about everything – including subjects that might even come up during, oh, I don’t know…in-home and/or campus recruiting visits?
To be sure, I don’t know if these things provide much of a recruiting advantage; let’s be honest, even without Coach K’s extra appearances there’s a lot about Duke that sells itself. We all know the place’s academic reputation, and the basketball program had reached elite status long before Krzyzewski started with the commercials/promos/radio shows/etc. But the problem is that other coaches certainly don’t get to do these things. Yes, Krzyzewski has created these opportunities through his achievements as a college basketball coach. But let’s say Coach K retires tomorrow and Sirius XM decides to give a show to only one coach – say, Ben Howland, or Roy Williams, or Billy Gillispie, or Jamie Dixon. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the NCAA stepped in and nixed it, saying it provided an unfair advantage. As chronicled by this very website, the NCAA chooses to apply its disciplinary bitch-slap in such strange and uneven ways at times – but THIS, a weekly hour-long pulpit for a coach – ANY coach – to freestyle about any subject he wants to millions of people – is allowed? The NCAA claims to try to keep things fair, to keep the playing field even. Is that what we’ve had for the past few years with Coach K preening himself as the official brand face and name of college basketball?
So that’s my number one wish for this holiday season. One single Duke fan to admit that their coach, despite his successes, might just be getting away with something. In the meantime, enjoy this clever YouTube spoof of Coach K’s AMEX ads.
(Will settle for: a winning Powerball ticket. I’m more likely to actually get that.)