Morning Five: 10.01.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on October 1st, 2013

morning5

  1. After initially indicating that they would seek a family hardship waiver for Kansas State transfer Angel Rodriguez, Miami announced that they no longer intended to seek such a waiver for the upcoming season. The school did not specify why exactly they decided to withdraw their application for a waiver–they cited Rodriguez’s nagging injuries–because although Rodriguez’s hardship seems questionable at best–moving to Miami to be closer to his native Puerto Rico–with the way that the NCAA has been granting hardship waivers we would not have been shocked to see the NCAA approve it. What the decision means for the Hurricanes is that they will most likely be in the bottom half of the ACC this season, but will have Rodriguez available for two seasons to play with Texas transfer Sheldon McClellan, who will also sit out this season and will have two seasons of eligibility remaining when he comes back for the 2014-15 season.
  2. In contrast to Miami, Florida followed through on their request for a hardship waiver for Rutgers transfer Eli Carter, who left the school in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal, and yesterday the NCAA granted Carter a hardship waiver enabling him to play for the Gators this coming season. Although we have been critical of how easily the NCAA has been granting hardship waivers, Carter’s seemed certain given the public reaction following the release of videotapes showing Rice physically and verbally abusing his players in practice. As for Carter’s role on the Gator team, there is no question that he can score (averaging 14.9 points per game last season), but it remains to be seen how well he can play within the Gators system as he was a high-volume, low-percentage shooter (38.4% FG and 32% 3-point) at Rutgers. If Billy Donovan can find a way to rein him in and utilize his scoring ability in a more efficient manner, he could be a significant addition to the Gators lineup, but that could be a big “if”.
  3. We normally do not pay much attention to minor preseason injuries, but the report of a “stress reaction” in Jahii Carson‘s right tibia caught our eye. As the article mentions the injury is reportedly a low-grade one, but given the quickness that Carson relies on it would be a major issue going forward if it continues to linger. According to both Carson and Arizona State, Carson could play on it if necessary, but that does not mean that he would be able to play through it for the entire season. It seems like an issue that most likely will resolve, but it is worth keeping an eye on.
  4. Larry Krystkowiak might have a way to go before he turns around a floundering Utah program, but at least he is making a difference in his community. According to reports, the 6’9″ second-year Utah coach apprehended a local bike thief, who did not appear to put up much resistance. After catching him, Krystkowiak called campus police, who subsequently discovered five stolen cell phones on the thief. After his weekend adventure, Krystkowiak tweeted about the incident comparing himself to Barney Fife although we assume that Krystkowiak is significantly more imposing than Don Knotts ever was.
  5. Following their surprise run to the CAA Conference Tournament title and First Four victory, James Madison was looking at a rebuilding year as they only had one returning starter: Andre Nation. Unfortunately for the Dukes they will be without Nation for the first 15 games of this season after he was suspended for a violation of an unspecified athletic department policy. The sophomore guard, who averaged 9.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game last season, showed signs of his potential in the team’s First Four victory against LIU-Brooklyn as he went for 14 points, seven rebounds, five blocked shots, and four assists. Now the team will have to adjust to playing with five new starters to begin the season as Nation is not scheduled to return until a January 7 game against the College of Charleston.
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Morning Five: 06.21.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 21st, 2013

morning5

  1. Billy Donovan did not come out and say that Scottie Wilbekin will be on next year’s Florida team, but his statement regarding the specifics of Wilbekin’s suspension suggest that it should not be too hard for Wilbekin to continue to play in Gainesville. Wilbekin is not allowed to workout with the team, but is allowed to lift weights on his own and workout with the coaching staff. Given those details we would be surprised if Wilbekin is not back with the team next season unless he does something dumb (again).
  2. There was a lot of action in the ongoing Ed O’Bannon lawsuit even if the actual trial has not started yet. You can read an excellent recap of yesterday’s action courtesy of Stewart Mandel. The most interesting aspect that came out yesterday was that there will be current athletes involved in the case. We are not going to go so far as to call these individuals trail blazers, but we imagine that any current athletes that join this lawsuit can expect to have the NCAA investigating everything about their recruitment and eligibility.
  3. You might want to hold back on those WNBA jokes around the new Big East commissioner. That is if the report from ESPN is true that Val Ackerman, the former WNBA commissioner, is in negotiations to become the next commissioner of the Big East. You may have heard Ackerman’s name mentioned recently for her report on how to improve women’s college basketball. Looking through Ackerman’s credentials she appears to be a pretty competitive candidate for the job and would appear to be a good fit for a job in a turbulent market with teams shifting conferences quite frequently although it will be interesting to see how a high-level female administrator would be accepted in an area that tends to be dominated by older males.
  4. When we saw an article about Wichita State beating Gonzaga pop-up in our RSS Reader yesterday we assumed it was some glitch sending an article from March, but it turns out that it was not. Instead, Andy Glockner decided to take a look back at the Shockers ridiculous 23-point outburst in 9 possessions that led to another disappointing early exit for Gonzaga. This sequence will not be talked about for years (most of you outside of the Spokane area probably have already forgotten about it), but it was one of the more remarkable things you will see.
  5. This year’s NBA Finals led to quite a bit of debate about the way that basketball is played/taught in the US and overseas. As you would have expected this led to quite a bit of bitter discussion from certain groups, but in reality is that there is probably something to be gained from exposure to both world. One example of this is Khadeem Lattin, a highly rated recruit who spent his sophomore year of high school in Spain. In the short term, the lack of exposure to US high school basketball scouts led to Lattin’s stock dropping, but as Jeff Borzello points out Lattin’s improved game and increased maturity could lead to bigger long-term gains for Lattin.
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Morning Five: 06.11.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 11th, 2013

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  1. Coming into this season Scottie Wilbekin‘s starting job was in peril with the arrival of talented freshman Kasey Hill at Florida, but you might have reasonably expected that the rising senior could bank on his experience and maturity to give him an edge in playing time. That is until Wilbekin was suspended indefinitely for an unspecified violation of team rules. This is not the first time that Wilbekin has been suspended indefinitely in the off-season as he faced a similar suspension last year and ended up missing the first three games of last season. We have no idea what Wilbekin was suspended for and if it is related to his suspension last year, but it places Billy Donovan in a difficult situation on both what to do with Wilbekin as well as how to ease Hill into the starting point guard job as we would expect Wilbekin to miss at least a few games at the start of the season if the infraction was significant enough to warrant the team disclosing it in June.
  2. It should not come as too much of a surprise but Andrew Wiggins will not be playing for the Canadian national team this summer. Wiggins like many of his American contemporaries is passing on the opportunity to play for his country’s U19 team at the FIBA World Championships. Like them Wiggins will be trying to get an early start on his college experience and given how brief Wiggins’ stay is expected to be that makes sense. Of course we do not expect this will have any long-term repercussions for Wiggins in terms of being named to future Canadian national teams as he is essentially viewed as the future of the sport in the country.
  3. Even in the crazed world of college transfers the decision by Jerome Seagers to back out of his transfer to Auburn is a curious move. Seagers, who averaged 6.5 points and 2.6 assists per game last season, announced his transfer from Rutgers to Auburn in the wake of the Mike Rice scandal. Now a month later Seagers has decided that Auburn is not the ideal destination for him. We will probably never be sure of the reason why Seagers decided to back out of the transfer, but according to Auburn the stated reason is that  “he hadn’t truly recovered emotionally from his time at Rutgers.” Whatever the reason is for his decision it will be interesting to see where Seagers ends up, but from the school’s statement it would appear that he wants to be closer to his family in Silver Springs, Maryland.
  4. Speaking of transfers The New York Times took a look at increasingly onerous transfer restrictions with a focus on a couple of particularly notable cases. The article does not take a look at some notable cases in college basketball where player transfers were blocked although the ones we have seen do not block nearly as many universities (see Todd O’Brien) so we know the problem extends beyond just college football. The big question of what drives these type of tactics is one that the article cannot get to bottom of because coaches will never talk about it, but it is likely one of asserting their power over the athletes to try to prevent future transfers by making the transfer process as difficult as possible.
  5. There are a lot of crazy stories happening with conference realignment, but one that will probably be largely overlooked is how moving conferences will change the finances for schools even in areas that are not the school’s primary focus. Take the move of Kenya Hunter for example. Normally we would not highlight the move of an assistant particularly one who has not been rumored as a top candidate for significant head coaching positions, but Hunter’s lateral move from Georgetown to Nebraska speaks to the changing finances of the two schools. This is not to suggest that Georgetown is falling apart, but instead should highlight how TV contracts can alter how an athletic program is built because five years ago we could not even fathom someone leaving Georgetown for a similar position at Nebraska (frankly, we are still having trouble comprehending it).
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Morning Five: 11.19.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on November 19th, 2012

  1. We can finally stop talking about the NCAA’s investigation into Shabazz Muhammad and focus on Shabazz Muhammad the player after the NCAA reinstated Muhammad. We could be cynical and point out that they did this soon after reports came out that the NCAA may have already determined that Muhammad was ineligible before all the evidence was reviewed, but we won’t do that. In the end both sides got a little bit of what they wanted as the NCAA got a chance to punish Muhammad (3 games and having to pay back ~$1,600 in impermissible benefits) and UCLA got its best player back just before they start playing against some of the best teams in the country.
  2. With one non-basketball basketball issue out of the way–Muhammad’s eligibility–another non-basketball basketball is here to fill its place–Maryland possibly moving to the Big Ten. One of main drivers of Maryland’s potential move is Under Armour founder and Maryland alum/booster Kevin Plank, who has reportedly been lobbying the members of the school’s Board of Regents to move to the Big Ten. It is worth remembering that Maryland was one of two ACC schools that opposed a recent motion to increase the exit fee for leaving the ACC from $20 million to $50 million (Florida State was the other and is/was believed to be interested in moving to the SEC at some point). According to reports, if Maryland goes to the Big Ten then Rutgers will follow suit giving the Big Ten 14 schools (hello, higher education) as it heads into its next TV contract negotiations. Just when we thought we had heard the end of conference realignment we get sucked back into another cycle.
  3. While college basketball gained a star in Muhammad it lost a coaching legend when Rick Majerus announced that he will not return to his job at Saint Louis due to ongoing health issues and also presumably retire from coaching. Majerus, who is most well-known for his time at Utah and led Saint Louis back to relevance on the national college basketball landscape, spent a quarter century on the sideline as a head coach compiling a 517-216 record. Despite his numerous on-court accomplishments Majerus will perhaps be best remembered for his personality (as evidenced by his numerous headline-making remarks while at ESPN and quirks off the court (living in the Marriott in Salt Lake City during his nearly one decade long stint at Utah). While we will miss Majerus in the college basketball world, we wish him the best of luck with his health issues and the next stage of his life.
  4. For the most part North Carolina has avoided the national spotlight with their ongoing academic scandal, but we have to wonder at what point they are going to feel the effects of it. Now a former academic adviser (“reading specialist”) has come forward with specific allegations against the school that go deeper than just the ones that have previously been covered in the major revenue-producing sports. At some point you have to figure the NCAA has to come down on the school. While it may not run counter to amateurism rules what reportedly happened at UNC appears to be counter to what an institution of higher learning is supposed to be about yet they appear to be getting away with it because while these individuals were able to get away without getting a college education at least they didn’t get into a club for free.
  5. Normally when a starting point guard for a top ten team returns we think it may alter the complexion of a season, but in the case of Scottie Wilbekin, the replacement at Florida for Erving Walker, we may have to make an exception. Wilbekin, who averaged 2.6 points and 1.6 assists per game, inherited the job from Walker and has not done a thing yet in college to make us take him seriously. He started his career as the starting point guard by sitting out three games for an undisclosed violation of unspecified rules. He returned to action last night and put 8 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in 23 minutes off the bench against Middle Tennessee State. Wilbekin will have one more game to work on his game before the Gators face a daunting three-game stretch: home versus Marquette then on the road for Florida State and Arizona.
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Morning Five: 06.18.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 18th, 2012

  1. They may never be the team they were in the late 80s and early 90s, but UNLV is making a big push at becoming a legitimate national power as they continue to add pieces to what was already a strong team. Over the weekend, they added Savon Goodman, who was one of the top remaining players in the class of 2012. With the exception of a very small group of schools a player of Goodman’s caliber (a Parade All-American) would be almost assured playing time right away, but UNLV is so deep this coming season that Goodman might redshirt if Connecticut transfer Roscoe Smith is granted a waiver and allowed to compete for the school without having to sit out a year. Regardless of the outcome, the Rebels are piling up a very impressive roster for the next few years.
  2. Friday’s move by Boston University from the America East to the Patriot League will not generate the national interest that some other moves have generated, but this single move could have a bigger impact on the conference that lost a school than any of those other moves. The departure leave the America East with only eight schools and takes away its biggest school and the one located in the biggest city so even though the Terriers were by no means a basketball power even in a weak conference it is a big blow for the conference that will most likely have to turn to a much lower profile programs to fill the void.
  3. Last year we had one game on a naval carrier that was almost universally lauded as being special. Next season we will have three games (and possibly more) as Florida and Georgetown have agreed to play on November 9 on an as yet unnamed naval ship in Jacksonville, Florida. The game, which will also serve as a homecoming for Patric Young, should be entertaining, but you have probably already heard rumblings from some media members about this trend already starting to jump the shark. However, given the lack of an actual opening event for college basketball anything that generates interest from the casual fan for any part of the season outside of the NCAA Tournament when most people care more about their bracket than the actual game seems like a good thing.
  4. It might not rate on the same scale as losing the biggest school in your conference, but Vermont made some news on Friday too when it agreed to release America East Rookie of the Year Four McGlynn, who appears to be headed to Towson. McGlynn asked for a release from Vermont earlier this month citing family reasons and for a reason that is unclear to us is expected to have to sit out the typical one-year waiting period. The exact family reason has not been released, but apparently it does not meet the other standard reasons (illness, father getting fired, etc). The arrival of McGlynn, who averaged 12 points per game last season, should undoubtedly help a Towson team that went 1-31 last season as there really is not anywhere to go except up from that.
  5. Despite having a fairly unimpressive season last year, Sean Miller was able to get a contract extension likely on the strength of his recent recruiting efforts landing one of the top incoming classes in the country for this coming season. Following up an Elite 8 appearance in 2011 (on the back of Derrick Williams), Arizona was only able to make it to the NIT, but apparently it was good enough to get Miller an additional year on his contract that will keep him at the school through the 2016-17 season. Miller is scheduled to make $2.2 million plus incentives next season with a gradual increase to $2.7 million plus incentives in the last year of the contract. In addition, Miller’s contract also includes a $500,000 buyout that was not present at the original time of his signing as the program was dealing with NCAA violations originating before his time with the school.
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Morning Five: 05.30.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on May 30th, 2012

  1. After Butler announced that it would be heading to the Atlantic 10 for the 2013-14 season one month ago most observers put the Bulldogs in the back of their mind when it came to conference realignment. That decision appears to have been premature as Butler announced yesterday that it was heading to the Atlantic 10 immediately. The move, which is widely believed to have been made in reaction to the likely decision by the Horizon League to ban the school from its postseason tournament as a response to the school’s prior announcement that it was leaving the conference, makes what is already one of the premier conferences in the country even better. For years, fans of Atlantic 10 basketball have scoffed at some writers referring to the conference as a mid-major. After this move, we should probably start rating them along with the BCS conferences as they would probably rate fairly highly on that scale even if they probably lack the premier team that their counterparts will have next season.
  2. Florida may have found an eventual replacement for Patric Young in the form of South Carolina transfer Damontre Harris. Ok, so that may be an exaggeration based on the 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game Harris put up as a sophomore, but Harris could help the Gators out on the inside when Young and Erik Murphy leave Gainesville. Harris, who should be eligible for the 2013-14 season and would have two more years of eligibility left, could be part of a plan for rebuilding the interior for the Gators that is focused on adding Chris Walker, a top-10 recruit in the class of 2013 who hails from Florida.
  3. College basketball players can find a lot of strange ways to injure themselves whether it is working out, playing another sport, or being involved in a car accident. Rarely are they involved in an event like what Chad Renfro experienced while visiting his parents. The junior from Barry University was surfing near Jacksonville, Florida last week when he noticed a sharp pain in his leg and quickly realized that he had been bitten by shark. Renfro was able to make it back to shore and was sent to a local hospital where he received treatment including 85 stitches. Renfro appears to be in good spirits though and should not miss any time during the upcoming season.
  4. Say what you want about John Calipari, but he knows how to get his point across. Yesterday, we included a link to a piece by Mike DeCourcy offering advice for five players on how to improve their games this summer. In a post on his personal site, Calipari offers advice to Kyle Wiltjer and in doing so also finds a way to turn the advice for his rising sophomore into a propaganda piece. According to the site, the letter is the same for every returning player on the team although we doubt he thinks of Sam Malone as a potential sixth man unless he is talking about the sixth man figuratively. For us the key point is Calipari using his website to give us all a peak inside his program while casually mentioning the program’s accomplishments in case any of us were unaware of those accomplishments.
  5. The Mayor just got a pay raise in Iowa as Iowa State announced that it had signed Fred Hoiberg to an eight-year extension that increases his annual salary from $800,000 per year to $1.5 million per year. That might seem like a pretty hefty pay raise and it is, but Hoiberg has had a pretty impressive run recently including being the reigning Big 12 co-Coach of the Year. In just two years, Hoiberg took a team that had posted a sub-.500 record three straight years and led them to a 23-11 record and a NCAA Tournament victory before losing to eventual national champion Kentucky. Some of that performance can be attributed to serendipity in the form of Royce White, who was able to overcome his personal demons to terrorize Big 12 defenses. Hoiberg will have his work cut out trying to find another player of White’s caliber willing to come to Ames, but he will have a little more time to do so now.
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Morning Five: 04.20.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 20th, 2012

  1. With the media starting to come down on the Wisconsin program for its handling of Jarrod Uthoff‘s attempt to transfer Bo Ryan decided to take matters into his own hands and went on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike in the Morning for what most thought would be a creampuff interview. We have been critical of the show in the past, but M&M managed to make Ryan’s claims seem questionable even if the interrogation would not have reminded anybody of the work of Jack McCoy. While we give Ryan credit for stepping up to the media to answer questions (something his colleague Phil Martelli still has not done), we think that the Wisconsin public relations department might want to give Ryan a few lessons before he is steps in front of a microphone again. Notwithstanding his on-air performance Thursday morning, the school decided to ease its restrictions on Uthoff later in the afternoon. Whereas previously he was not allowed to transfer to 26 different schools (the entire ACC and Big Ten, plus three other schools on Wisconsin’s schedule), he will now be allowed to transfer to any school outside of the Big Ten.
  2. We have heard quite a few creative excuses trying to explain recruiting violations, but to our knowledge Memphis coach Josh Pastner is the first to blame his wife for the violation. Pastner, who has been forced to do more work after a member of his staff moved on, claims that he was trying to do an Internet search, but instead tweeted “Tony parker” on the official Memphis Tiger basketball account. The tweet was deleted a few minutes later, but Pastner had to report himself for a secondary recruiting violation relating to Tony Parker, the uncommitted senior out of Georgia . In his defense, Pastner claims that he had been trying to do too many things at once and his wife was yelling him for being too loud while on the phone, which had woken up the rest of the house, leading to his gaffe. While this seems possible and plausible, we would have gone with the excuse that we were tweeting about the San Antonio Spurs guard, who was having a spectacular game against the Los Angeles Lakers although the game had just tipped a few minutes before the tweet.
  3. We have heard of some outrageously expensive food items over the years, but never a $301 taco. That is until Florida‘s Erving Walker decided to steal one from a street vendor in Gainesville at 1 AM on March 30. Walker, who later said he was “just playing around”, took the taco without paying then ran from police before being caught. The judge in the case ordered Walker to pay the fine by September 27 after Walker pleaded no contest to misdemeanor theft charges. Walker, who finished as the school’s all-time assist leader, may wind up playing basketball internationally as we doubt he will see NBA action for anything more than an occasional 10-day contract.
  4. ESPN is continuing to post columns by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and while they leave something to be desired (we were kind of hoping for the crotchety old man to take shots at the current system) it is interesting to read what he has to say about today’s one-and-done system especially in a year where his alma mater UCLA has at least one and possibly two such players who may lift the school back into the national spotlight. Essentially Abdul-Jabbar says that we live in a very different age and that it is unrealistic to harbor the romantic ideal of everybody staying four years because of the way society has changed. It is not exactly an earth-shattering statement, but it is something that some fans may need to be reminded of and Abdul-Jabbar may have enough gravitas to make that point stick.
  5. Some pundits may not believe it, but as Luke Winn points out there are a few talented players who stick around after their freshman season. Winn focuses on five rising sophomores with two who played major roles last year, another two who were productive if not spectacular, and a fifth who saw limited action due to a loaded frontline ahead of him. Interestingly, the one who saw the least time on the court may be the most desirable in the eyes of NBA scouts. The progression of these five players may end up determining next season’s national championship.
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Morning Five: 04.06.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on April 6th, 2012

  1. After months of waiting Connecticut finally heard from the NCAA regarding its appeal against their 2013 NCAA Tournament ban for low APR scores. Unfortunately for the Huskies, the response was not the one they wanted to hear as the NCAA rejected the appeal so now the Huskies will be forced to sit out the NCAA Tournament. Outside of the immediate impact of the team not being able to play in the Big East and NCAA Tournament next year, this will likely have a significant influence on the NBA Draft decisions of Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond as well as the inevitable retirement of Jim Calhoun (he has to retire sometime, right?). And of course, as we have mentioned several times before this also means that Alex Oriakhi would be able to play for the school that he transfers to for next season without having to sit out a year. Although the Huskies do not have any other players who would appear to be in urgent need of going to a program that could play in the NCAA Tournament next year, it will be interesting to see if other players try to leave the program too.
  2. While some of Connecticut players may be leaving school early, there are at least a few notable names that will be staying in college. Yesterday, James Michael McAdoo, Isaiah Canaan, and Kenny Boynton all announced that they would be returning to their respective schools next season. McAdoo is perhaps the most interesting case as his playing time was limited by a loaded frontline in front of him at North Carolina, but he still would have been a first round pick. Now he will return to a Tar Heel team that has lost a lot of its minutes and McAdoo should be ready to showcase his skills for the nation and the NBA scouts. Canaan, who is coming off a spectacular junior year at Murray State, would not have been a first round pick so his return seems reasonable although we are not sure how much he can improve his stock unless he works on his point guard skills as the NBA is typically not in love with 6’0″ shooting guards. For us, the decision by Boynton to come back for his senior year at Florida seems like a no-brainer. While we have had issues with Boynton’s tendency to jack up shots (he will almost definitely end up as the school’s all-time leader in field goal attempts), his place in the Gator rotation should be more clear next season with the departure of at least one and probably two pieces from what was a crowded backcourt this season. Boynton will still probably end up playing overseas, but at least now he will have a chance to prove himself without a ton of other redundant options available to the coaching staff.
  3. Is this the beginning of the end for the ESPN BracketBusters event? One of the marquee conferences involved in the annual late February series of games, the CAA, has moved on to make an exclusive partnership deal with NBCSports Network starting in 2013, and therefore it will no longer participate in the event. In different-but-same news, the Mountain West’s television arm, The Mountain, will cease operations at the end of June as the league figures out its next step with a pending merger with Conference USA. This news undoubtedly will be received well far and wide for those of us who hated tuning into the fishbowl otherwise known as The Mtn’s production values every weekend. To whoever killed this network: Thank You.
  4. We’ve heard of a lot of crazy recruiting stories over the years — some true, most not — but we’re not sure that anything approaches what Nerlens Noel reported that a Kentucky fan offered him over Final Four weekend: the man’s wife. At this point, it’s just hearsay, but Noel seemed to have enough belief in the offer to state, “nah, [he's] good,” so we’re generally tending toward belief on this one. Regardless of whether the surely fine young Mrs. was offered to a 17-year old, this much is true: Noel will choose between Kentucky, Syracuse and Georgetown in the coming week.
  5. While on the subject of recruiting, and really, what else is there at this time of year… the nation’s #1 recruit, Shabazz Muhammad, is considered a must-get for Ben Howland’s UCLA program. His list of schools is down to UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke, but there hasn’t been more pressure on a single coach to get a single player in recruiting circles since Cody Zeller inked for Tom Crean’s Indiana program a year and a half ago. As the recruiting analysts all preach, it isn’t even about the single year that Muhammad would spend in Westwood as much as the future cachet that he would provide. John Calipari was able to lock down he likes of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist through his work two and three years ago with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.
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NCAA Tournament Tidbits: 03.23.12 Edition

Posted by WCarey on March 23rd, 2012

The NCAA Tournament is here and there’s more news, commentary and analysis than any of us can possibly keep up with. To make things a little easier, we’ll bring you a list of daily links gathered about teams in each of the four regions all the way through the Final Four.

Midwest Region

  • Kansas star forward Thomas Robinson’s personal tragedies have been well-documented. The junior, who just turned 21 last week, is the key player for the Jayhawks as they look to move into the Elite Eight.
  • Kansas senior guard Tyshawn Taylor has faced a lot of adversity in basketball and in life. The guard from New Jersey has developed into a leader for Bill Self’s squad and he will look to lead the Jayhawks into an Elite Eight on Friday night.
  • Going into this season, there were many differing opinions regarding NC State forward CJ Leslie. Leslie has developed into a key player and a team leader for the overachieving Wolfpack that have already pulled two upsets in the NCAA Tournament.
  • When NC State athletic director Kay Yow named Mark Gottfried head coach last April, many people were surprised by the decision. As it turns out, Yow had the right idea, as Gottfried has led the Wolfpack through some hard times this season and into the Sweet Sixteen.
  • North Carolina star forward Harrison Barnes has a history as a saxophone player. Putting the music aside, the Tar Heels’ leading scorer is a key component to the team moving on in the NCAA Tournament.
  • Ohio head coach John Groce has seen his name tied to the openings at Nebraska and Illinois, but the Bobcats’ head coach will not say if he has any interest until his team’s run in the NCAA Tournament has concluded.

West Region

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Morning Five: 02.21.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 21st, 2012

  1. While Seth Davis is one of the better college basketball journalists out there he normally is not one that you find taking controversial stances, but this week he decided to shake the hornets’ nest by doing the unthinkable–defending the RPI. Seth’s defense is not an attempt to say that the RPI is a perfect tool as it is far from it, but he believes it is a solid tool that should be used with a variety of other tools including your own eyes when judging a team. Still Seth’s column generated quite a bit of discussion on Twitter yesterday, which for the most part was fairly civil. We are sure that this will continue to be a point of contention going forward, but with the way many bubble teams are playing late in the season if they don’t make the cut they have no reason to complain.
  2. In his latest blog post, Nerlens Noel talked about his recent visits to Syracuse and Kentucky and his impressions of those visits, but the bigger news is that he has still not officially reclassified as a member of the class of 2012. He says that his paperwork should be finalized by early March. Other than that it is mostly a couple of anecdotes, talking about visiting schools in the future, and his decision to turn down an invitation from Duke, which is what most Kentucky fans will probably fixate on.
  3. With the season winding down and their NCAA fate hanging in the balance, Anthony Grant finally made a decision on his two leading scorers/rebounds. Yesterday, Alabama announced that it was suspending Tony Mitchell for the rest of the season while allowing JaMychal Green return to practice. We still do not know what Mitchell did that led to his eventual dismissal for conduct detrimental to the team while Green, who has been suspended twice before, was allowed to return after being held out for three games for violating unspecified team rules. Although Green is able to practice with the team he will not play on Thursday at Arkansas so the earliest he would return to action would be this Saturday against Mississippi State.
  4. Florida, which has struggled to find enough guards to fill their minutes, may get Mike Rosario back for their game tonight against Auburn. Rosario has missed the last three games after sustaining a hip pointer in practice. We are not sure what Rosario’s role is on this team going forward as he is probably their 7th man and he was pretty far behind the top three guards even before he was injured. Perhaps he can fill in when he has a hot hand or if they have foul trouble, but we would not expect too much out of Rosario going down the stretch.
  5. Since this past October, Connecticut has been waiting to hear from the NCAA on its potential 2013 NCAA Tournament ban due to its low APR score. The committee that would make that ruling met yesterday and. . .they pushed it off to the next meeting, which is from April 23 to 25. The decision is particularly big for the Huskies because they already had their waiver brushed aside and a postseason ban would probably mean a departure for several key figures including Jim Calhoun, Andre Drummond, Jeremy Lamb, and Alex Oriakhi.
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Morning Five: 02.17.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 17th, 2012

  1. If you are in the group of people who does not pay for cable television and planned to watch the NCAA Tournament on CBS and March Madness on Demand you may be out of luck. In an announcement yesterday, Turner Sports announced that they would be charging a staggering $3.99 for online access to their games. While this initially caused a few moments of unease online (since you know everything should be given away to the public for free) it is even less burdensome than it seems as those who have TBS, TNT, and TruTV from their cable provider will be able to gain access to the games online for free through the channel’s website by proving that they have the channel on their home cable package although how you will do that is a little unclear. The games that are broadcast on CBS will continue to be provided free of charge.
  2. In this week’s edition of his power rankings Luke Winn takes a look at all aspects of how Anthony Davis blocks shots, the role of Fab Melo on defense, and the usual other statistical nuggets that he always brings us. We usually spare Luke of any criticism (mostly because he usually does not deserve it), but we are perplexed with his ranking of New Mexico as he has them as the #16 team in his rankings, which seems pretty lofty except that he had them at #12 before they won at San Diego State. We understand that he moved four other teams up quite a bit, but the reason/justification for the drop at least merits a mention.
  3. We have seen a lot of strange coaching moves in the past few months, but the announcement that Mount St. Mary’s was putting Robert Burke on paid administrative leave per his request is one of the more odd ones. A school official citing university policy refused to release any more information about the leave. Since the school and Burke are not providing any information, the rest of us are left to speculate on what the reason is (assuming you want to spend that time thinking about a NEC team that is 6-19 overall), but the most likely (and least libelous) reason is the on-court performance of the team as Burke is 17-40 since taking over during the 2009-10 season.
  4. Remember our link yesterday talking about how some conferences will need to merge or expand to survive? Apparently, new Sun Belt Conference commissioner Karl Benson got the memo because when he was announced as the incoming commissioner yesterday he immediately began discussing plans to expand the conference. Benson declined to name any specific targets, but it would seem like needs to act quickly as his conference has schools located in the southeastern United States from Florida to Texas making them prime targets for other conferences looking to get into or consolidate that market.
  5. Ever since Nerlens Noel reclassified to this year’s graduating class, the interest around his recruitment has grown exponentially. The 6’10” center, who will probably end up being the #1 recruit in this year’s class when the final rankings are released, went on-air with Jeff Goodman yesterday to discuss his list of schools, which were (in no particular order) Kentucky, Connecticut, Syracuse, North Carolina, Providence, Florida, and Georgetown. [Ed. Note: He initially did not mention Providence, but tweeted a clarification soon after the show.] Much like Shabazz Muhammad, the other player in the running for #1 overall recruit, Noel does not appear to be in any hurry to announce where he will be going so we could be waiting for a while.
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Morning Five: Valentine’s Day Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 14th, 2012

  1. Last week we mentioned the possibility of a Mountain West/Conference USA merger and yesterday the two sides moved closer to “a new association” with the start of combined play happening as early as the 2013-14 season. With both conferences seeing a significant number of their former constituents departing for greener pastures the move is one of self-preservation. This move probably will not have the domino effect that other major moves have had, but should take some potentially interesting target schools off the market for the time being.
  2. Santa Clara has suspended Kevin Foster, the West Coast Conference’s leading scorer (17.8 PPG), for the remainder of the season after his arrest for driving under the influence. Foster has been suspended by the team following his arrest in the early morning on January 22. Since that time he has missed seven games with the Broncos losing all seven. To be fair, the team was only 8-10 with him on the court. Since this is Foster’s junior season, there is a possibility that the team could bring him back next season, but now he will have to deal with the legal system first as he is scheduled to be arraigned March 7 as he has been charged with a misdemeanor.
  3. With Connecticut sitting on the NCAA bubble and its Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun still on an indefinite medical leave our faith in a rally by the Huskies is fading by the day. While Calhoun could theoretically come back any day now, it looks like that day will not be tomorrow when UConn plays DePaul. In fact, it could be quite a while as according to reports Calhoun is still meeting with medical specialists to get second- and third-opinions on how to manage his spinal stenosis. Calhoun is apparently still deciding whether to go with conservative management or undergo a surgical procedure, which would probably keep him out for the rest of the season. With just six games left in the regular season and the hopes of a promising season growing bleaker with every game, we would expect Calhoun to make a decision in the near-future.
  4. It was not quite like Larry Bird calling his Celtic teammates “sissies” in the 1984 NBA Finals, but after looking at tape of their home loss to Michigan State, Jared Sullinger criticized the entire team for playing like “spoiled brats” for their constant arguing with each other and the officials. Sullinger was careful not to simply call out his teammates as he included himself in the comment since along with his impressive totals of 17 points and 16 rebounds he also had 10 turnovers. It will be interesting to see how the Buckeyes respond to the loss moving forward as they have the potential to stay a #1 seed or drop down to a #3 seed with a tricky close to the regular season.
  5. Tonight’s Florida-Alabama game will have a vastly different look than what we expected coming into the weekend. Coming off back-to-back losses the Gators will be without the services of Will Yeguete after he suffered a concussion and required 10 stitches as the result of  a fall in Saturday’s loss against Tennessee and will also be without Mike Rosario as he continues to deal with a hip injury. Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide will welcome back two of the four players who had been suspended last week for the catch-all conduct detrimental to the team. While Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green will continue to serve their suspensions, the team will “most likely” have Trevor Releford and Andrew Steele back for tonight’s game. Anthony Grant has not released any more information about if and when Mitchell and Green would return, but if he wants to avoid being on the bubble on Selection Sunday he might want to consider reinstating them fairly soon.
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