Who Won the Week? MCW, Chicago State, Not Jerry Jones…

Posted by rtmsf on December 7th, 2012

wonweek

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), an Oregon-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game.

WINNER: Chicago State

The Cougars found themselves a home. Amid the constant turmoil found during this extended period of conference realignment, Chicago State has managed to go from the schedule conglomerate of the Great West to an actual conference in the WAC. (Let’s ignore the fact that the WAC would lose its automatic bid if the historically black university didn’t join its ranks.) Granted, the Cougars are 0-8 in Division I play this season, but their campus lies atop a recruiting hotbed, and they could easily snag many a player who falls through others’ cracks, especially now that they offer the same chance at an automatic NCAA Tournament bid that about 250 other schools promise every season. This move makes sense for both parties, but it should help save Chicago State from the fate of Winston-Salem State, another HBCU that tried to make the move to Division I but failed before retreating back to Division II.

(Related winners: The WAC. Related losers: None.)

LOSER: Florida State

Hamilton Hasn’t Been Smiling Much This Season (Photo Credit: Glenn Beil / Democrat).

The Seminoles have had an extended run of success in the Atlantic Coast Conference, one unseen for that program since the Hugh Durham era in Tallahassee, but that’s threatening to fall apart in Leonard Hamilton’s 11th season roaming the Florida State sidelines. FSU is currently riding a three-game losing streak, and last week’s losses to Mercer and Florida were both ugly in their own ways. Falling 61-56 to a team from the Atlantic Sun is ignominious in its own right, but especially so for a team riding a school-record four-year NCAA Tournament streak. Having only one player score more than seven points in the process is even worse. But the Seminoles actually managed to one-up that loss with an embarrassing 72-47 loss to rival Florida, this time where no Florida State player scored more than 10 points. Michael Snaer, the scoring guard who helped lead the team to three wins in the last two years in the NCAA Tournament, scored 17 points between the two games on 5-of-17 shooting while having five assists and seven turnovers. This is foreboding for a team many picked to finish in the top half of an ACC that has often looked lackluster during the start of the season.

(Related winners: Florida; Mercer, but more so had the Bears not gotten shelled by Denver later in the week. Related losers: The ACC, Snaer.)

WINNER: Greg Gantt

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

The WAC’s New Additions Reveals Just How Far the League Has Fallen

Posted by Chris Johnson on October 10th, 2012

Chris Johnson is an RTC Columnist. He can be reached @ChrisDJohnsonn

Conference realignment has not been kind to college basketball. There are exceptions to this statement: The Atlantic 10, who over the past year added VCU and Butler, very much won out. But on the whole, hoops leagues have watched flagship programs jump ship to chase lucrative media rights contracts and better positioning in the increasingly football-oriented college athletics landscape. The winds of change prompted high-profile departures from the Big East (West Virginia, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Syracuse), pillaged the CAA (Old Dominion, Georgia State, VCU) and swiped thriving outfits from other leagues. While the reasons sometimes differed – with a few exceptions, football and TV money reigned supreme; the variant motives were more a matter of degree than type – the overall result was mostly unilateral. Hoops conferences were weakened, either by losing teams to football-savvy and/or more monied leagues, taking on substandard replacements or having natural rivalries eroded. The good news is we’re witnessing a temporary conference-hopping lull after a summer teeming with realignment buzz. The college hoops offseason is a long and frustrating stretch that challenges the outer limits of creative resolve. Filling that gap with realignment news, particularly when that news includes negative consequences for the sport’s competitive balance, is not fun. We should probably enjoy this peace while it lasts, because conference loyalty is hardly the same enduring relationship it used to be. These are massive changes with lasting impacts. College hoops may never be the same.

It will fall on programs like New Mexico State to carry the WAC’s flagship going forward (Eric Jamison/AP).

Through all the program-hopping and controversial departure dates and spiteful conference tournament bans (I’m looking at you, CAA), there is no league that learned the perils of realignment in a more devastating way than the Western Athletic Conference. Over the past two decades, the once-thriving mid-major outfit has suffered a slow and agonizing decline, with a whopping 24 schools leaving for greener pastures. The extended bout of membership attrition prompted the WAC to steep to new levels of realignment hopelessness. That’s no disrespect to Cal State Bakersfield and Utah Valley, which the league announced Tuesday will gain full membership by July 1 of next year and begin competition in 2013, but is this the best the WAC can do? When your membership has been whittled down to four and league administrators have relegated football to the BCS ranks (a tell-tale sign of league futility), the answer is, almost invariably, yes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Morning Five: 10.10.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on October 10th, 2012

  1. There was a scary moment Tuesday morning in Washington, DC, at a session of The Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics when former Maryland star and current ESPN college basketball analyst Len Elmore collapsed in his chair during a Q&A session. Luckily, the 6o-year old Harvard Law graduate and resident hoops intellectual was back up on his feet after paramedics arrived and he shortly walked under his own power to his hotel room thereafter. According to the Washington Post, Elmore told SMU president Gerald Turner that this incident was related to a “longstanding health issue” of his and has happened before. We’re glad to hear that Elmore appears to be doing alright, but we sure hope that his ailment is manageable and doesn’t cause him additional and dangerous related problems.
  2. One thing we failed to mention from Monday’s fire hose of preseason information released by CBSSports.com was their article outlining the group’s selections for conference champions, Final Four teams/champions, and major postseason awards. Some of the more interesting choices were Gonzaga making the Final Four on two ballots (Goodman and Norlander), Arizona doing likewise (Goodman and Gottlieb), along with UNLV (Norlander and Borzello) and Michigan State (Parrish). None of the five writers chose the same national champion — Louisville, Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, and Indiana — and they were equally disparate when it came to picking Freshman of the Year and Coach of the Year. When it comes to NPOY, though, the group was nearly uananimous — Cody Zeller showed up on four ballots, with Doug McDermott picking up the lone contrarian vote. One thing is for sure: The field is completely wide open this year and any number of schools will start practice on Friday with reasonable dreams of cutting down the nets next spring in Atlanta.
  3. Yesterday the WAC announced two new additions to its basketball-only league — and make sure you’re sitting down when you read that these titans of the sport are joining the once-venerable old conference — Utah Valley and Cal State Bakersfield. After all the recent defections, these two schools will join a ragtag group that now only includes Denver, Seattle, Idaho and New Mexico State. For the next two years, the league will keep its automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament under an exemption that allows it to do so without the requisite minimum of seven schools. For a conference that at one time or another boasted such notable basketball schools as Arizona, BYU, UNLV, San Diego State, Tulsa and Utah, this is a little bit like looking at a former supermodel in her 70s — it ain’t pretty anymore.
  4. The Battle of the Midway has been saved from liquidation, much to the relief of both Syracuse and San Diego State, the two schools set to face off on the retired ship come Veteran’s Day. But if you want to grab a ticket, make sure to bring your American Express platinum card — ducats for this outdoor game will start at $150 a pop and increase up to as much as $500 the closer you get to the court. Novelty plus scarcity is a certain way to increase demand for a product, but we’re not convinced that pricing a game like this in the rarefied neighborhood of courtside seats to an NBA game is the right way to handle it. Honestly, we’d have preferred that some deep-pocketed sponsor pick up the tab and let military personnel make up the entire audience, but nobody asked us.
  5. It’s not very often that we’ll mention a SWAC school in this space, but it’s also unusual that a school is hit by the NCAA with the dreaded “lack of institutional control” penalty. Texas Southern received just that news on Tuesday, as the NCAA in a statement said that the school was “responsible for booster involvement in recruiting, academic improprieties, ineligible student-athlete participation and exceeding scholarship limits” over the course of a number of years. As a result, the basketball program, now led by former Indiana and UAB head coach Mike Davis, will be banned from the postseason next season and lose two scholarships for the immediate future. The most surprising punishment is that the school must vacate all of its wins in every sport from 2006-10, one of the most egregious penalties we’ve ever seen the NCAA mete out to a school. Davis was certainly informed that he would be walking into a difficult situation at TSU, but we’re guessing that he’ll spend quite a few days clicking his heels together and hoping that he magically re-appears in Bloomington again.
Share this story

Morning Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 25th, 2012

  1. It wouldn’t be the Morning Five without a John Calipari mention, as the sport’s biggest newsmaker spins the media like a top with his almost-daily appearances, interviews, and social media missives. Yesterday on his website the Kentucky head coach wrote that his new scheduling strategy — pushing for more neutral site appearances against marquee opponents — will result in a one-year hiatus in the Kentucky-North Carolina series, but the home-and-home battle between two of the best programs in the country will return in 2013-14. The purpose of this move according to Calipari is to alternate years where the Wildcats will have to travel to Chapel Hill and Louisville, meaning that UK will play at least one tough non-conference road game each year. The Wildcats have also picked up a home/neutral series with Baylor starting next season that will allow them to play in Cowboys Stadium in 2013-14, the site of that year’s Final Four. Perhaps most interestingly, though, is that Calipari says that he’s in negotiations with Duke to begin an annual rotating neutral site game that he says would be on the same weekend each year and become “THE GAME” to watch. We certainly can’t argue with that.
  2.  What we can argue with was a curious comment that Calipari made in his post explaining why he’s so gung ho on scheduling future neutral site games in football stadiums: “I’m convinced we would have won the title two seasons ago if we would have played in a dome during the regular season. Our guys weren’t prepared for it.” At first blush, this sounds reasonable on its face. But closer examination suggests that the head coach is tailoring the facts of his argument to justify what he wants. First of all, the Wildcats lost to West Virginia in the Elite Eight in Syracuse in 2010, which means of course that they had to win a Sweet Sixteen game in the Carrier Dome two days prior — on the same floor, in the same dome, only against a different team (Cornell). Did John Wall and company forget what they’d learned about playing in a dome environment just 48 hours before the loss to WVU? Next, the 2012 team that just won the national championship in the Superdome didn’t play in a dome environment at all in this year’s regular season or in the SEC Tournament. Still, without that ‘necessary’ experience, the Wildcats successively rolled through Indiana, Baylor, Louisville and Kansas to win it all. All in domes. If Calipari wants to play the lack of experience card to forgive the failure of the 2010 Wildcats, he probably should be looking at the ridiculously soft schedule that his Wildcats ran through on its way to a 35-3 record that year. When both teams matched up in the Elite Eight, the Mountaineers were by far the best team UK had faced all season. Kentucky’s lack of experience in playing good teams was the problem; it wasn’t that they hadn’t played in a dome. [Ed. Note: It is unclear which team Calipari was referring to, but the 2010 team was a far superior team if he was talking about winning a national championship.]
  3. From a coach spewing nonsense to players doing likewise… Deadspin published a really interesting piece on Thursday examining in great detail documents from the cottage industry of companies who are tasked with monitoring college athletes’ social networking accounts. The article describes how it works: First, the schools get access to each player’s account through a special tracking mechanism that scans their pages regularly. Then, “once the computers gather all that data, the firms’ software searches it for trigger words and reports back to coaches and athletic department functionaries. This happens in near real-time.” It wouldn’t be Deadspin-worthy unless the examples were equal parts hilarious and horrifying, so we’d just suggest you set aside a few minutes of your time and get over there to poke around. Of particular interest is one company’s documentation and definition of many of the most common trigger words and phrases that could get players in trouble. Let’s just end this by saying that if you’re over 30 years old, you’re probably going to learn a few new slang words or acronyms to test on your buddies during the long weekend.
  4. More conference realignment! And it doesn’t involve yet another rumor about Florida State, Clemson or Miami. No, UT-Arlington, a Southland school who is (we’re not kidding) joining the WAC on July 1, will spend one year in that league before movin’ on up to the Sun Belt, effective next summer. You read that correctly — in a span of 366 days (from June 30, 2012 to July 1, 2013), UT-Arlington will be a member of three different conferences. At the mid-major level, it’s just short of impossible to keep up with who is heading where, but we think that the Sun Belt will also pick up Georgia State and Texas State to replace the losses of FIU, Denver, and North Texas to the WAC and Conference USA. Whether the WAC survives all of this re-shuffling remains to be seen.
  5. A couple of head coaching positions at the mid-major level were filled on Thursday, with Rider and Binghamton inextricably connected through the transition. Binghamton hired Rider head coach Tommy Dempsey to take over for Mark Macon, a former star player at Temple who was unable to dig out of the morass left by his predecessor, Kevin Broadus. Rider acted quickly to fill the vacuum, promoting assistant coach Kevin Baggett to the helm for purposes of continuity. Rider has averaged 18.5 wins per season in the six years that Baggett was an assistant for Dempsey, so it makes sense that the administration wants to keep the momentum moving forward.
Share this story

Morning Five: 05.03.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 3rd, 2012

  1. Round and round and round we go… coming on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement that Butler will join the Atlantic 10 beginning in the 2013-14 season, the Mountain West leaked on Wednesday that Utah State and San Jose State are set to join its ranks on Friday of this week. While bolstering the MW in light of its pending losses of TCU, San Diego State and Boise State, this move may effectively finish off the WAC, a high-mid major conference with just shy of 50 years of history behind it. The league may be left with only two football-playing members (New Mexico State and Idaho) and it appears that the remaining schools are likewise off to greener pastures. Such is the natural consequence of every school acting in its own self-interest.
  2. While on the subject of conference realignment, everyone has had a little time to digest the Butler move to the Atlantic 10 by now, and Luke Winn writes that much of the media got it wrong in suggesting that the “Butler Way” will need to change in order for the Bulldogs to find success in their new conference. His argument makes total sense — while the Atlantic 10 as a whole is a clearly better league than the Horizon, it’s really only better at the top. Now, instead of having to rely on non-conference play to build its overall NCAA resume, the Bulldogs will have enough games against the likes of Xavier, Dayton, Richmond, St. Louis, et al, by which to impress the selection committee. As Winn notes, efficiency metrics suggest that Butler would have finished in one of the top two positions of the A-10 standings in five of the last six years, and while those metrics don’t actually play the games, there’s not a compelling piece of evidence we’ve yet seen that would suggest Brad Stevens or Butler will have trouble in their new league.
  3. The 2012 Jimmy V Classic matchups were announced on Wednesday and the event will have a decidedly nostalgic feel next season in Madison Square Garden. The school where Jim Valvano became famous, NC State, will headline with its strong squad heading to New York to face Connecticut, while Texas and Georgetown will play in the other game. It’s only been 31 days since we last saw a college basketball game tip off, but simply reading about these matchups has already caused a marked increase in our heart rate and blood pressure.
  4. The 2012-13 version of ESPN Gameday will have a decidedly lower pitch next season, as the hyena-like laughter of Hubert Davis will no longer be a regular part of the show. Davis has agreed to take Jerod Haase’s open assistant coaching spot at his alma mater, North Carolina, after Haase decided to accept the head job at UAB last month. Roy Williams noted in previous comments about the position that a number of his former players were interested in the spot on his bench, and although Davis never played for the Kansas/UNC coach, his claim that the new assistant would have Carolina ties was clearly a factual statement. At the ripe age of 41, Davis is getting into the collegiate coaching game a bit late, but he’s certainly well connected and could use his seven years as an ESPN personality to help with recruiting and name recognition.
  5. Stanford’s basketball program may not be among the elite, but we’re becoming increasingly convinced that the university through its deep connections with tech giants such as Google and Facebook is well on its way to taking over the world, one terabyte at a time. In the Moneyball world of sports analytics, a Stanford senior named Muthu Alagappan recently developed an entirely new (and award-winning) way of looking at positions in basketball, based on the actual production of NBA players regardless of size or favored spots on the floor. Using data visualization techniques, he came up with 13 basketball positions with such descriptive names like the “Defensive Ball-Handler,” the “Paint Protector,” and the “One-of-a-Kind.” By grouping players into similar buckets and showing how they interact in a visual way, the concept is that value between similarly situated players will be easier to discern and effective balance between players on a team will be more easily achieved. It’s really interesting stuff — if you want to see the entire presentation, click over here.
Share this story

ATB: Power Conference Round Up – All Leagues Now in Tournament Action, Big East Works Overtime

Posted by EJacoby on March 9th, 2012

Tonight’s Lede. Thursday was a transition night during Championship Week from small-conference finishes to power league beginnings. Most mid-major tournaments are now completed, as the automatic bids came flying in over the past five days. Check our Bracket Prep posts to get the scoop on all of the lesser-known teams that have qualified for the Big Dance and will fill out the lower seeds in the bracket. But Thursday night included no tournament finals and instead was a jam-packed day of mostly power league teams dueling to keep their seasons alive, work their way off the ‘bubble,’ or jockey for NCAA Tournament seeding. There were also a few other smaller league tournaments that produced notable results as well. If you missed anything (with 49 games, you probably did), we’ve got you covered…

Your Watercooler Moment. Cincinnati Spectacle – Bearcats Victorious in Double-Overtime

Cincinnati is All Smiles After Thursday's Clutch OT Victory (AP Photo)

The Big East Tournament has been catching some flak for the fairly boring games taking place during the nightcaps on ESPN, but the NYC tourney produced fantastic results during the afternoon on Thursday. Following a hard-fought game between Connecticut and Syracuse, the Bearcats and Hoyas did battle for 40+ minutes, extending all the way into two overtimes in what looked like could have been an even longer game. Georgetown led for most of regulation in the game, but Cincy stormed back in the second half with a strong defensive effort and plenty of big plays, many by the veteran forward Yancy Gates. Although being played at a low-scoring, slow pace, this game was full of clutch shots and crisp basketball plays at the end of regulation and both overtimes. In order to extend the game both times, Georgetown needed to make shots on a final possession while down by two points. First, Otto Porter tied the game in regulation and then it was Henry Sims in the first overtime with a beautiful swooping layup as time expired. But in double-OT, the Hoyas were down two once again with the ball and this time went for the win. Sims’ three-pointer wouldn’t go down and the Bearcats were victorious behind Gates’ 23 points and eight boards. They move on to play Syracuse tomorrow in the Big East semifinals.

Tonight’s Quick Hits

  • Marshall and Tulsa Play Three! If you thought the Cincinnati-Georgetown game was crazy, you’ll want to hear about this one in Conference USA. Marshall was the lower-seeded team and had played yesterday but is probably the more talented squad than Tulsa, who was higher-seeded thanks to a better record in the C-USA season by one game. These two teams did not want to go home empty handed, as they combined to score 205 points in 55 total minutes of play. In three overtimes, Marshall star DeAndre Kane went for a career-high 40 points including nearly all of the big plays down the stretch of the extra sessions. Kane also piled up seven rebounds, three assists, and three steals and played all but one minute of the entire game. Four Tulsa players scored at least 14 points and the Golden Hurricane led by at least three points in all three overtimes, but they could not contain the Thundering Herd’s desperate comeback efforts that resulted in the win from sheer passion and effort. Marshall lives to play another day, but who knows how much it has left in the tank for Friday.
  • Jamaal Franklin For the Win. San Diego State struggled to put away pesky Boise State in the first round of the Mountain West Tournament, but the Aztecs happen to have the conference Player of the Year who’s made great plays all season long. Franklin had 19 points in the game but it was his incredible long-range heave at the buzzer that stole the show and won the game for SDSU. Head coach Steve Fisher described this final play call as, “Give him [Franklin] the ball and let him make a play.” Check out the footage below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Pac-12 Team Previews: Utah

Posted by AMurawa on October 26th, 2011

Over the next two weeks, we’ll be previewing each of the Pac-12 teams as we head into the season.

Utah Utes

Strengths.  Size. Oh man, does Utah have a lot of size. Start with a 7’3” behemoth in the middle in David Foster, add 6’10” junior Jason Washburn who can spell Foster or play alongside him, and toss in – well, there’s really not all that much size behind those two. But with those two prowling the lane, the Utes have an imposing frontcourt duo that are a threat to block any shot taken in the paint.

Weaknesses. Where to begin? First, this is an inexperienced squad, featuring three incoming freshman and three junior college transfers who are expected to get time. Second, while the Utes return senior Josh Watkins at the point, he struggled in his first season in Salt Lake City last year, shooting under 30% from beyond the arc while turning the ball over too much. And, lastly (for now at least), even though Foster and Washburn are big, they’re injury-prone, struggle with conditioning and are of limited effectiveness on the offensive end.

David Foster

David Foster Is An Intimidating Defensive Player, But Utah Is Missing Offensive Firepower (credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News)

Nonconference Tests.  The highlight of the nonconference slate is a berth in the inaugural Battle for Atlantis in the Bahamas, where they will open with Harvard in the first round before facing either Massachusetts or Florida State on day two, with a third opponent to be determined. Beyond that, there is the in-state rivalry game with BYU, a couple of games at WAC opponents (Boise State and Fresno State) and not much else. Which is good – this team deserves a bit of a break in the non-conference. Read the rest of this entry »

Share this story

Big 12 Morning Five: 10.11.11 Edition

Posted by dnspewak on October 11th, 2011

  1. It’s official: TCU has accepted an invitation to join the Big 12, and it will formally become a member on July 1, 2012. If you’re keeping track, the Big 12 marks the fifth league the Horned Frogs have accepted an invite from since 1996, along with the WAC, C-USA, Mountain West and Big East. With TCU officially in the fold, the attention now turns to the Big 12’s additional options during this time of Realignment Apocalypse.
  2. Speaking of those options, how does Notre Dame sound on the basketball side? A report obtained by the Associated Press mostly centered around Missouri’s conference affiliation, but it also included a small piece of information about the Irish: apparently, they are mentioned in the document as a potential Big 12 target for all sports besides football. This is nothing more than wild speculation, but that’s what realignment is all about, right?
  3. The news about Notre Dame wasn’t the important part of that document, though. It was all about Missouri‘s possible move to the SEC– and the financial impact of that scenario. The school could make up to $12 million annually, and the report said the SEC would not significantly harm the university’s academic reputation. Interestingly, MU would actually rank lower in average SAT scores if it moved from the Big 12 to the SEC, though.
  4. Staying with Missouri, the end of the bench at Mizzou Arena just got a little more crowded. Frank Haith already added walk-ons Tony Lester and Danny Feldmann this summer, and now KOMU-TV’s Eric Blumberg reports that he’s added forward Andy Rosburg. That news actually has major implications for Missouri’s program, considering Rosburg’s brother, Ryan, is a 6’9″ high school senior on the Tigers’ radar. According to Rivals.com, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech and a load of other schools have already offered the younger Rosburg a scholarship. Perhaps the presence of his older brother in Columbia will be enough to sway him — at least that’s what Haith certainly is hoping.
  5. With Midnight Madness just days away, the Big 12 announced last week that three teams from the league will participate in ESPN’s coverage of the event this Friday. Scrimmages from Baylor, Kansas and Texas A&M will all air on ESPNU, and it’s hardly surprising that the network chose three of the Big 12’s main title contenders for national exposure.
Share this story

Summer Updates Wrap-Up

Posted by rtmsf on August 23rd, 2011

Now that we’ve spent the last six weeks reviewing most of the Division I conferences, let’s take a look back at the entire list with the summer #1 power ranking for each as we head into the fall…  [ed note: to see all of the Summer Updates in order of release, click here]

We currently have openings for conference correspondent roles with the following six leagues. Please email us at rushthecourt@yahoo.com with links to writing samples if you have an interest.
  • Atlantic Sun
  • Big West
  • MAC
  • MEAC
  • SWAC
  • Southland
Share this story

Morning Five: 07.14.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 14th, 2011

  1. How about a smidge of conference realignment in your summertime news feed?  The WAC is expected to add Texas-Arlington as its tenth school later this week, compensating for its recent loss of Boise State and its pending loss of Nevada.  Well, maybe compensating is a bit of an overstatement given the power of those two programs, especially the Broncos on the gridiron, but UTA has one thing that the schools located in Boise and Reno do not — an insanely deep and talented local recruiting pool.  The football and basketball talent in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area dwarfs the entire states of Idaho and Nevada in a given year, so the WAC is clearly hoping that Arlington is a sleeping giant for the next decade.  [ed. note: didn’t mean to imply that UTA has a football program currently, because they don’t; but that’s clearly something the WAC and UTA are considering with this invitation]
  2. The NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Selection Committee will have a new chairman, Xavier athletic director Mike Bobinski.  He will not take over for current chairman, UConn AD Jeff Hathaway, until next summer, whereupon he’ll take control of the committee for the 2012-13 season.  As we’re all aware, the chairman’s biggest role is to step in front of the television cameras minutes after the release of the NCAA Tournament field and defend his committee’s selections.  Some have performed well in this role, while others, including last year’s chairman, Ohio State AD Gene Smith, failed miserably in clearly explaining the differences between teams chosen versus those who were left out.
  3. Yesterday we mentioned the LeBron James Skills Academy when referring to Darius Johnson-Odom’s team defeating the camp namesake’s team twice over the course of the week.  DJO wasn’t the only collegian to have made waves last week, though, as  Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier,  Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger, Kentucky’s Anthony Davis, Kansas’ Thomas Robinson and many others were evaluated by NBADraft.net during the event.  Also of interest was some of the discussion involving high school superstars in the next two years of classes, particularly Jabari Parker, a rising junior who many believe is a future #1 overall pick in the mold of Carmelo Anthony.
  4. News that Michigan recruit Austin Hatch — the high schooler in the Class of 2013 who lost his father and stepmother in a plane crash on June 24 — is recovering from said accident is music to our ears.  According to a blog post by his extended family, Hatch is “healing with the loving care of medical experts!  Austin even has his blue “Kobe” shoes on (size 15) and looks ready to work.”  We’ll certainly forgive the Kobe footwear so long as he makes a full recovery, and that would without question be one of the best stories of this entire offseason.  Queue up the most inspiring player award for next year’s ESPYs.  Speaking of which…
  5. This is getting ridiculous.  One day after we noted that everybody’s favorite Mormon, Jimmer Fredette, had a horse named after him, the consensus 2010-11 NPOY walked out with an ESPY for the Best Male College Athlete of the year.  Connecticut’s Kemba Walker, Auburn’s Cam Newton, Miami (OH)’s Andy Miele (hockey), and Cornell’s Rob Pannell (lacrosse) were the other nominees.  Of course, we’re just teasing… we loved The Jimmer as much as anyone else throughout his prolific career.  The only other college basketball-related winner was in the Upset category, where the VCU Rams took home the ESPY for their unforgettable five-game run to the Final Four last season.
Share this story

Morning Five: 06.15.11 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 15th, 2011

  1. Everybody applauded Shaka Smart a few months ago when he turned down the allure of programs with bigger names to stay at VCU with the hopes of building an elite program there. He may do that, but it looks like he will need to do it with a new coaching staff as Radford snapped up VCU assistant Mike Jones and Boston University is apparently strongly considering another VCU assistant, Mike Rhoades. As for Jones, he may have a difficult time cleaning up the mess left by former coach Brad Greenberg, who resigned after numerous irregularities were discovered within the program.
  2. For much of the past year college fans have been inundated by rumors about conference realignment. One move that definitely stayed under our radar was Seattle moving to the WAC. The move that will become official in the 2012-13 academic year will allow the men’s basketball program, coached by former UCLA point guard Cameron Dollar, to compete at the Division 1 level in the first year that they are eligible for the NCAA Tournament. While most fans are not that familiar with the Seattle program, they do have an impressive pedigree if you are willing to go back nearly 50 years. In 1958, led by Elgin Baylor, they made it to the NCAA Championship game before losing to Kentucky, 82-74, and in 1966 they handed Texas Western (yes, the Glory Road team) its only loss of the season in their last game before the NCAA Tournament. The current Seattle team is significantly less talented, but should be aided by the depleted WAC, which will see Boise State, Fresno State, and Nevada leave the conference in the next two seasons.
  3. When Missouri hired Frank Haith after the season ended they were widely ridiculed (ok, we were in that group), but it looks like he is making some significant moves with the addition of Auburn transfer Earnest Ross (13.1 PPG and 6.6 RPG as part of an anemic offense last season) and he is reportedly in the hunt for UConn transfer Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Pepperdine transfer Keion Bell (yes, the guy who dunked over seven people). If Haith can land that trio, the media ridicule about the hire may soften although questions about his in-game coaching will remain.
  4. When Dwayne Polee announced that he was transferring from St. John’s several weeks ago we speculated that it might have had something to do with the influx of talent that Steve Lavin was bringing to the Red Storm. Yesterday, Polee announced that he was transferring to San Diego State and was applying for a hardship waiver (his mother has a medical condition requiring surgery) that would allow him to play for the Aztecs next year. Although Polee had a disappointing freshman campaign this is a big signing for Steve Fisher and could help the team transition from Kawhi Leonard era to the future if Polee can find his game again now that he is back in California.
  5. Last night we went on a Twitter rant questioning the public’s anger at LeBron James for not fulfilling his potential (or at least what we perceive it to be), but we won’t question the existence of the widespread hatred of James and his current Heat team. Even before the season began, Sports Illustrated released a list of the top 25 most hated teams of all-time and had the Heat, who had yet to play a game together as the 25th most hated team of all-time. We are sure they would move up the list if it was done again today, but we were surprised to see that three college basketball teams–1983-84 Georgetown at #23, 1991-92 Duke at #12, and 1989-90 UNLV at #9–were rated ahead of the Heat. We aren’t exactly sure where the Heat would rank if the list were done again today, but we are guessing that they would rank higher than all three of those teams.
Share this story

Morning Five: 06.03.11 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on June 3rd, 2011

  1. Let’s play “who is Coach K bashing here,” shall we?  In comments made to the Raleigh News & Observer this week, Coach K stated that he doesn’t want to see the ACC go to an 18-game conference schedule as the Big East, Big Ten and Pac-10 have done in recent years.  If the primary objective is to increase the league’s overall strength of schedule for NCAA Tournament purposes, Krzyzewski wants the other schools in the league to “schedule stronger,” and he felt comfortable enough with the current group of ACC coaches to take a shot at some of the previous ones.  He said that he felt some coaches were guilty of being  “too territorial about individual programs” when it came to thinking about the league as a whole, which got us thinking about who he had in mind when he made that statement.  So who among the following list was Coach K referring to? Paul Hewitt (Georgia Tech), Oliver Purnell (Clemson), Frank Haith (Miami), Dino Gaudio (Wake Forest), Gary Williams (Maryland), Al Skinner (BC), Sidney Lowe (NC State), Dave Leitao (Virginia).  Our best guesses: Hewitt and Lowe.   
  2. We mentioned yesterday the story coming out of Syracuse about freshman center Fab Melo getting into some trouble for damaging a woman’s vehicle during a dispute of some sort.  More details came out Thursday, and if any of the allegations in the police report are true, Melo is really going to have to check himself before he wrecks himself.  Jealousy is a dangerous imp that has destroyed many men before him, so our hope here is that he gets his rage under control and releases it in more useful ways, like on the basketball court in the form of rebounding and blocking shots. 
  3. Tennessee fans are no doubt hopeful that new head coach Cuonzo Martin has as much initiative and creativity in his head as his wife, Roberta Martin, does.  A few years back, Mrs. Martin developed a website called marriedtothegame.net, a niche social networking site that caters to spouses of coaches through all college sports.  There are currently over 700 people signed up for the site, where spouses trade information on the endless moves that their families must endure throughout coaching careers, how to handle child-rearing in such environments, and many other issues specific to their often-volatile profession.  As social networking moves into the next generation of sub-specialization, this sort of thing will become standard across all walks of life.  Kudos to Martin for being ahead of the curve and providing a supportive platform for the forgotten side of sports — the families. 
  4. There’s a lot of sniping coming out of the friendly confines of the Beehive State recently.  Last week, Utah Valley State, angling to become a basketball-only member of the WAC, accused Utah State of backroom politicking to keep the school from getting enough support to join the conference.  This was met with a refrain of “B.S.” from the USU folks, and they weren’t talking about science degrees.   Then on Thursday it was released that former Utah forward Josh Sharp is transferring to BYU after spending the last two years on an LDS mission in Texas.  New Utes head coach Larry Krystkowiak is none too pleased with this development, stating that “there is an unwritten rule that players cannot be recruited by other schools while they are serving missions. To do so is not only inappropriate, but it creates an atmosphere of ill will.”  Unwritten rule or not, there is a written NCAA rule that says players coming off of missions do not have to sit out a year as a transfer; he will therefore be eligible as a Cougar in BYU’s first year as a member of the WCC in 2011-12.  Can’t wait till next year’s games between these schools.   
  5. UNC’s Harrison Barnes is already pretty good at a lot of things, but he’s not known as a playmaker for others yet.  His assist-to-turnover ratio last season was a paltry 0.73 and even though his natural gifts are as a scorer, he will need to develop his ability to find open people as defenses focus on him.  The answer?  Well, naturally, point guard camp.  According to Mike DeCourcy, Barnes is one of 17 collegians invited to the CP3 Elite Guard Camp in Winston-Salem, NC, beginning on June 10.  The objective of the camp is to develop playmaking skills, and several other notable names including Jordan Taylor (Wisconsin), Peyton Siva (Louisville), Kendall Marshall (UNC), Will Barton (Memphis), and Kenny Boynton (Florida) will also be there.  We can’t imagine that this sort of thing could hurt Barnes, but the cynical side of us wonder just how much Nike might have to do with this particular exception.  Hmm…
Share this story