Morning Five: 07.17.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 17th, 2012

  1. The year-plus mystery about how much longer Syracuse and Pittsburgh will play as members of the Big East was partially revealed on Monday, as the conference released terms of an agreement that will allow the Orange to join the ACC in July 2013. The school will pay an exit fee of $7.5 million in return for leaving one year early (league bylaws require over two years of notice), but according to a tweet from Andy Katz, there’s no way that Pittsburgh will remain in the Big East in 2013-14 without Syracuse. Assuming that the Panthers join Syracuse as new members of the ACC that year, they’ll likely join an ACC with a loaded Duke team sitting at the top of the league and a reloaded North Carolina squad on its way back up. In other words, welcome to always. For what it’s worth, as much as we hate losing classic Big East battles such as Syracuse-Georgetown and Pittsburgh-Villanova, to note a pair, we’re also looking forward to the new blockbusters that the expanded ACC will enable. Syracuse in Cameron Indoor… Pitt visiting the Comcast Center… Yes, please.
  2. The nation’s top prospect in the Class of 2013 is shutting it down for the summer AAU circuit to let his injured right heel recover. Jabari Parker will have an MRI soon to determine if it will require surgery, but his father in an interview with the Chicago Tribune that regardless of the outcome of that test, their intent is to let him rest so that he’ll be ready to play for his high school team again this fall. The Simeon (IL) HS forward is unanimously regarded as the top player in his class, but according to the article, there are “rumblings by those who rank individual teenagers for a living” that he could lose his top spot as a result of his absence in summer action. At least his dad has the right attitude about the importance of summer prep rankings: “That stuff doesn’t mean anything.”
  3. It’s mid-July so somewhat surprising to see this list right now, but The Big Lead‘s Jason McIntyre released his annual ranking of the top 50 returnees in college basketball for the 2012-13 season. These things are always incredibly subjective so we’ll leave it to his legion of commenters to make snap judgments as to the list’s accuracy, but we’ll allow ourselves one critical comment: Creighton’s Doug McDermott is far better than the seventh best player in college basketball. All in all, it’s a fairly thorough list and will no doubt engender a healthy amount of debate as we move into the early months of next season. As an interesting side note, one of the comments enlightened us to a website called Value Add Basketball where next season’s players are projected based on a number of assumptions and calculations. It’s worth a few minutes of your time to poke around over there.
  4. The player who McIntyre listed as the third-best player in his top 50 for next season is an RTC favorite, Murray State’s Isaiah Canaan. Will Aubrey of The Examiner did a short interview with the returning All-American, and here was the result. Canaan spent time at several of the top camps this summer, including the Chris Paul, LeBron James, and Deron Williams versions, where he was told that his game only needs a few tweaks to be ready for the next level. Despite his size (listed at only about 6’1″), he is projected at #20 overall in NBADraft.net’s 2013 mock draft — you can’t measure heart and leadership, though.
  5. We’re not going to belabor this point here but in yesterday’s M5 we mentioned that there are rumblings of a significant backlash against collegiate sports from those souls — many of whom are general sports fans — who are sick and tired of the scandals, the hypocrisies, and the rah-rah attitude that can foster situations where a known child molester is free to terrorize children for 13 years under the auspices of a moral and ethical university. The Atlantic‘s James Fallows put together a mash-up of user responses to the Penn State scandal and their tone crystallizes exactly what we were talking about. Are we reaching a tipping point where college athletics as we know it will come crumbling down and rebuilt as a quasi-professional entity with transparency about what it is; or will it continue down this beer and circus path that some have derided for years, but of which many others are finally starting to notice?
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Morning Five: 06.02.10 Edition

Posted by jstevrtc on June 2nd, 2010

  1. St. Bonaventure junior point guard Malcolm Eleby has left the team following charges regarding an on-campus stabbing that occurred back on March 21.  He follows fellow guard Lewis Leonard, who left in May, also implicated in the incident.  The bad news might not be done in Olean, NY, as two other Bonnies have also been hit with charges.
  2. There’ll be no ignoring the elephant in the room at the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City.  Commissioner Dan Beebe started the proceedings yesterday with a “plea for staying together.” Given the starry eyes of the B12 member schools as they watch their Big 10 and ACC counterparts polish their sweet TV deals, this reminds us a little of that scene in Braveheart where clan leader Lochlan rides out in front of the departing Scottish army and begs them, “Stop! Do not flee! Wait until we’ve negotiated!”  We’ll see if the Big 12 can find a way to rally, rise up, and defeat those evil English…
  3. Interesting move, here.  Oklahoma president David Boren sent a letter to the NCAA last week proclaiming that the Sooner program is now in full compliance with NCAA rules and regulations.  Such a letter was a required element at the end of OU’s current probationary period which was said to run out on May 23.  But you can’t blame the OU brass for wanting to put a wrap on that before the NCAA finishes its probe into the whole Tiny Gallon/Jeffrey Hausinger issue with the $3,000 that allegedly went to help Gallon procure his high school transcript.
  4. If you’re a John Calipari-hater by reflex, Mike DeCourcy challenges you to reframe your thinking of the man and his situation.  Mike D — who never told us we were allowed to refer to him like that — isn’t just calling out college basketball fans, here.  He’s challenging all college hoop media, a group of which he’s a member.  We admire this.
  5. Way to go, TBL! Strong work.  We hope that party is still raging.
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Clues as to Tyler Hansbrough’s Return to College

Posted by rtmsf on June 10th, 2008

(h/t The Big Lead)…

We know that NBAers get all kinds of ridiculous tail thrown at them on an hourly basis, but there’s something just a little more wholesome virtuous delicious (yeah, that’s what we meant) when it’s Mary Sue from calculus chemistry sociology class straddling you like a stallion rather than Misty (and her three kids) from Total Platinum. 

Anybody know the provenance of these pics?  How old they are or what this function was for?

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Another Culprit in the Mayo Mess

Posted by rtmsf on May 13th, 2008

In the effluvia of the OJ Mayo report from Outside the Lines (you remember, he took money and gifts from street runner Rodney Guillory, acting as a proxy for the Bill Duffy Agency) the other night, there has been a cacophany of predictable kneejerk reactions from every corner of the media universe. 

Tim Floyd and USC are to blame!

The NBA’s 1-and-done rule is to blame!

The NCAA’s lax enforcement is to blame!

AAU basketball, or even worse – the system - is to blame!

There’s a lot of culpability being thrown around by the various pundits, and with good reason on many counts, but we’d like to proffer another culprit that few in the MSM have been willing to indict - their own 4th Estate, the so-called watchdogs of the community.  We in the blogosphere have been told repeatedly by those in pedigreed positions of media power that what separates us from them is the simple concept of access.  While we can riff on the same televised game that a USC beat writer for the LA Times can, he has a level of access to players, coaches and administrators that we do not (from our parents’ basement), thereby rendering his reporting more valuable than ours.  Or so the story goes.

 

While we completely agree that level of access of which the MSM has to sports figures makes our job different than theirs, there also must exist a certain amount of responsibility for said journalists to follow up on rumors, whispers and innuendo that such access enables.  Because of the difficulty for a blogger to gain entree into a circle of coaches willing to speak off the record to a trusted journalist, we expect that the writer will not simply wink and nod with the rest and ultimately let it slide into oblivion.  After all, isn’t the journalist’s role to not only report the news, but investigate it? 

Gregg Doyel wrote nineteen months ago that USC should be wary of Mayo due to his relationship with Rodney Guillory – that’s a great start.  Did anyone else follow up on this accusation of impropriety?  Jerry Brewer of the Seattle Times recounts a conversation with two prominent coaches he had about recruiting Mayo during his prep days:

“It’s not even a consideration,” one coach said.  “You don’t even understand how many problems that could cause,” the other said.  Back then, there was much fear about Mayo’s large circle of friends. There were whispers that he had already been bought, a common rumor about prep basketball stars.

If there were whispers among prominent coaches about Mayo, and the writers knew about it, why didn’t anyone investigate it?  Where was the local watchdog, the award-winning LA Times investigative staff on this story?  It’s not like outing Mayo, the “next Lebron” at one time during his HS career, wouldn’t have been a prime catch.  How hard could it have been? – the Big Lead even gave the MSM a roadmap in March 2007 - you have Mayo associated with Guillory; you know that Guillory is a runner for an agent who already got USC player Jeff Trepagnier and Fresno St. player Tito Maddox in hot water several years ago; and you know the weird circumstances of Mayo’s “recruitment” to USC.  What more do you need to look deeper into this steaming hunk of  brown mess??

And yet, to our knowledge, until the OTL piece on Sunday by ESPN’s Kelly Naqi after Mayo’s college career was all-but-finished, the MSM’s inertia effectively made certain that Mayo will never face any sanctions over this scandal.  As for USC… well, we’re still waiting to hear their penalties from the Reggie Bush situation a few years back.  Just keep in mind among all the yelling about blame this week that if someone, anyone, in the MSM had been doing their job a year ago, Mayo would have never suited up for USC in the first place.  The NCAA plans on watching college basketball recruiting a little more closely, but given its limited enforcement resources, perhaps all the doomsday rhetoric being thrown around as a result of this fiasco will inspire our MSM friends to include a little more self-awareness of their watchdog role next time. 

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Billy the Kid Fallout

Posted by rtmsf on June 2nd, 2007

Billy Donovan Magic

As expected, the college hoops/NBA blogospheres have been abuzz with thoughts on the reasoning behind Billy Donovan’s decision to leave Florida for the Orlando Magic, as well as speculation as to how well BTK will do when he gets there. As we said on Thursday when the news was breaking, it’s unlikely that Donovan will become an abject failure in the NBA like his mentor Pitino in Boston or several of the other successful college coaches who made that jump – most notably, Carlesimo, Calipari, Tim Floyd, Mike Montgomery and even switching sports with another ex-Gator, Steve Spurrier. The key distinction is that Donovan’s opportunity with Orlando, very much in contrast with most NBA job openings, is a pretty good one. Orlando was a playoff team this season, albeit barely, and they do have a young stud in Dwight Howard to pair with solid PG Jameer Nelson and a surplus of salary cap space. Plus Orlando as a city has long been attractive to free agents because of its warm weather, exclusive neighborhoods such as Isleworth (Shaq and Tiger have homes there) and tax benefit (no state income tax in Florida).

So the question really shouldn’t be whether Donovan will fail in Orlando, it’s whether he will succeed. Can he shrewdly use his eye for talent to build around Howard to make the Magic a 50-60 win team over the next five years, eventually rising to the level of challenging the Lebrons for the JV Conference title? In the NBA, the old adage goes, it’s all about the players. The coaches above failed for many reasons, often including a lack of imagination and management acumen, but the most important reason was they simply had inferior talent. Billy Donovan is in a unique position as a new NBA coach where he should be able to avoid that pitfall, and for that reason, it says here that he’ll have a successful tenure in Orlando.

The media expectedly is falling into two camps on this issue:

Successful:

Kelly Dwyer at cnnsi.com:

From Mike Montgomery to Rick Pitino, John Calipari, Tim Floyd, Lon Kruger, Leonard Hamilton, P.J. Carlesimo, Jerry Tarkanian and Dick Vitale, the NBA landscape is littered with former college coaches who thought they could exhort and prod their way toward NBA glory. And, to a man, each fell well short. Only Pitino, Floyd and Carlesimo were offered second NBA jobs, with only Floyd (the most maligned of the bunch) improving his record in his second stint.

The overriding theme here is respect, and how to earn it from professionals making guaranteed money while the coach tries to sustain a sense of gravitas from training camp in October to, hopefully, a playoff run in the spring. NCAA coaches, who are allowed to wield scholarships and playing time over the head of impressionable youngsters, are able to get away with emptying all their motivational shells in the midst of what, at best, could turn into a 40-game season. NBA coaches tend to hit their 40th game in early February, with a playoff push and possible postseason run still weeks away.

Despite all the historical evidence suggesting failure, each pro team and each coach think their situation could be the one exception — the one marriage of pro team and ex-college coach that actually works. There is some evidence that suggests that Donovan, for all intents and purposes, could be the one who breaks the losing streak.

Ian Thomsen at cnnsi.com (linked yesterday but written on Apr. 9):

“Here’s what I’ve noticed about Billy,” a GM said. “A few years ago he realized he wasn’t very good at coaching defense. He moved one of his assistants — which is very hard to do for a head coach, because in that world it’s all about loyalty and sticking together — and [in 2004] he brought in an old veteran guy, Larry Shyatt, to fix the problem. And that’s why they were able to win two national championships.”

Here’s the picture I should have recognized last week. Donovan has been aiming toward an NBA career, and along the way he’s been humble enough to recognize his weaknesses and fix them. He will have a lot to learn in the NBA, but there is a feeling among his potential employers that he won’t be the typically dictatorial college coach who fails to form a partnership with his richer, more powerful NBA players. Donovan will adapt and grow into the job.

“When he hires his assistants in the NBA, he won’t go the buddy route,” the GM said. “If he perceives he’s not good enough in a certain area, he’ll go and get himself some help. He’ll figure out what he needs to be successful in the NBA, and he’ll put the right guys around him.”

Tony Mejia at cbs.sportsline.com:

Orlando has, in one single move, become relevant again. And even if Donovan fails, conventional wisdom is that he can always return to the college game the way mentor Rick Pitino did. He has had a nice re-birth, no?
But he won’t fail. He’s walking into a wonderful situation and was smart enough to recognize that. The Magic made his choice all the easier by ponying up the jack. I honestly never felt they had it in them. The climate has changed. Orlando wants to be more than mediocre.

The Big Lead:

Plus, unlike many college coaches before him, Donovan can win in the NBA: the Magic are already a playoff team in the East, probably will get Vince Carter this summer, and it looks like a couple teams in the East are going downhill (Miami’s old, Detroit’s aging, and Indiana appears to be on the path to rebuilding).

Failure:

Pat Forde at espn.com:

I sincerely hope Billy Donovan doesn’t wind up like all the others.

I hope he’s not the next Tark, the next John Calipari, the next Tim Floyd, the next Lon Kruger, the next Mike Montgomery. I hope he doesn’t follow the same failed path as his mentor, Rick Pitino. I hope he doesn’t wind up with his wind pipe being massaged by a player, like P.J. Carlesimo.

I hope he’s not just another college coach who, for some reason, couldn’t tolerate living with the happiness and success he built by hand, and chose the misery of losing in the NBA instead. I hope he’s not the next in a conga line of call-up coaches who flop when taken out of their element.

Bob McClellan at yahoo.com:

The NBA is grinding, demanding. It’s four games in a week, not two. It’s hitting the road 41 times, not 10 times like the Gators did last season (and two of those were in-state trips). There are no non-conference cupcakes, although there are two games with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The fact is coaches don’t leave the NBA because they get better gigs. They leave because they get pink slips. They leave exhausted, chewed up and spit out, black and blue.

Orange and Blue would have been the safer choice.

Dan Shanoff as guest blogger at deadspin.com:

And the final insult for any college fan, Florida or anywhere: What, exactly, is the lure of coaching in the NBA? On its face, it sounds like the shittiest job in sports.
Zero job security, with a “when” not “if” inevitability of a bad ending to nearly every coaching hire. (Welcome to Indiana, Jim O’Brien!) Star players who run the team. Financial realities that hamstring moves.

Roughest of all, the “Ring or Bust” mentality. Jerry Sloan is the ideal of NBA coaching longevity, yet he is best known for NOT winning a championship. And most of the coaches who have won a title recently (Jackson, Tomjanovich, Popovich) have enjoyed coaching the greatest players of their eras. Dwight Howard is the best post player in the East — not a bad foundation to build a contender — and they have double-digit cap millions to use (please God: NOT Vince Carter…hmm: Gerald Wallace?) But yeesh, those odds are still ugly.\Meanwhile, Billy D was on track to be one of the Top 5 most successful coaches in college hoops history. His style seemed MADE for college. (His weakness – Xs and Os – will be magnified in the NBA, while his strength – personality – will be mitigated.)

Brian Schmitz’s Magic Basketblog:

If hiring him winds up being the biggest transaction of the summer, it will mean the Magic failed to land a prized free agent or make a trade for the missing piece or pieces. And Billy’s NBA maiden voyage could hit rough water for a team that carries, perhaps, oversized expectations, firing Hill even after he led the Magic to their first playoff appearance since 2003.

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