It’s hard to believe that Bedlam was last night. In a game that meant almost nothing to either Oklahoma State or Oklahoma‘s lackluster postseason hopes, the Sooners ran away with a 13-point win that at least one writer considered fairly entertaining. That’s the thing about these rivalries. OU has fallen flat in Big 12 play, but it found new life on the defensive end and held the Cowboys to just 12 first half points. Click on that link and look at the face of Romero Osby– you think he’s not excited to beat Oklahoma State? That’s college basketball at its finest, even when the competition on the court doesn’t quite measure up.
Now that Kansas has taken care of business in College Station, it no longer needs to hide behind the “don’t-look-ahead” theory. There’s nothing standing in the way of Missouri now — the Jayhawks can talk about the Tigers all they want. So can columnists, too, especially ones with strong opinions. If you need any proof that this rivalry is bitter, just listen to this writer: “Missouri has never been a good neighbor to Kansas and they still aren’t. Down through the years MU’s hierarchy has caused as many problems as possible for KU — off the field and court.” Harsh. But that’s not all: “Kansas will expose an overrated Missouri team this Saturday in Allen Fieldhouse.” Yep, it’s the Border War all right.
On the other side, Missouri needs to recover from a shocking home loss to Kansas State in this Border War match-up. A Big 12 title isn’t out of the question yet, but the Tigers need to win out to at least earn a share. That begins with Saturday’s game, a tough task considering Missouri hasn’t won in Lawrence since 1999. It’s also the last Border War game ever (for the near future, at least), adding to the stakes and fueling the home crowd.
In light of our selection of Wayman Tisdale to the “Big 12 Mount Rushmore” team, this blog provides a little more analysis into the legend himself. At Oklahoma, Tisdale won three Big Eight Player of the Year awards and earned All-America distinctions as a freshman, sophomore and junior. These days it’s almost unfathomable to think that a player so dominant in his first season in college would actually stay for another year, let alone two. And it’s also interesting to consider that Tisdale’s instant success as a freshman was largely unheard of during that time period. These days, we expect freshmen to contribute and dominate, but Tisdale was one of the first to set that trend.
It wasn’t easy, but Iowa State overcame a sluggish first-half effort to knock off Texas Tech last night in a game it absolutely could not afford to lose. The win gives the Cyclones 10 Big 12 victories, which, as the article mentions, is the first time that’s happened in 10 seasons. The 72-54 final margin is hardly how this game played out, though. Tech led at halftime and hung around for most of the second half, which is good news for Billy Gillispie as he tries to build on the first season of his rebuilding job.
When Missouri and Texas A&M bolt for the SEC in July, the departure will mark the Big 12’s first shift since its inception in 1996. For the most part, the past 15 seasons have belonged to Kansas, which has captured the only National Championship during this time period and has also won or shared 11 regular-season championships. The Jayhawks’ dominance extends all the way through the old Big Eight’s history, too. Naturally, we’ve selected two Jayhawks as the most influential figures. Perhaps it’s unfair to place so much KU emphasis on our four Mount Rushmore selections, and yes, it’s probably unfair to ignore the rest of the league as a result. However, we made our selections with an eye toward postseason success and long-term legacy. Frankly, no other Big 12 program can even come close to Kansas in either of those departments, so its players and coaches simply must be included.
Here’s our Big 12 Mount Rushmore:
Wayman Tisdale: The late Tisdale was more than just a basketball player. He was a musician, a man who publicly fought cancer for two years, and most importantly, a man remembered for being one of the most genuine people in sports. The forward had a productive NBA career, but he thoroughly dominated the Big Eight for three seasons at Oklahoma. As a freshman, sophomore and junior, Tisdale took home Big Eight Player of the Year honors, and he was unique in that he made such an immediate impact early in his career. Unlike most freshmen at that time, Tisdale didn’t need time to acclimate himself to the college game. He was a one-and-done kind of player who stayed and dominated the nation for three seasons. Frightening.
Danny Manning: These days, Manning roams the Kansas sidelines as a towering, hard-to-miss assistant coach. Two decades ago, though, Manning’s Jayhawks soared through the 1988 NCAA Tournament as a six-seed, shocking the nation by knocking off #1 Oklahoma in the title game in Kansas City. To this day, even fans who never watched Larry Brown’s team play still refer to that squad as “Danny and the Miracles.” Manning may have scored the most points in Big Eight history, but we’ll remember him for the way he lit up the scoreboard in those six games in March.
Iona got some great news yesterday when the NCAA announced that it would grant a hardship waiver to Arizona transfer Lamon “Momo” Jones making him eligible to play for the Gaels during the upcoming season. Jones, who reportedly left Arizona to be closer to his sick grandmother, averaged 9.7 PPG and 2.7 APG as the starting guard for the Wildcats. Interestingly, he joins a team that is talented enough that he may not even be the starting point guard as the team has all-MAAC senior Scott Machado (13.2 PPG and 7.6 APG) returning. Gaels coach Tim Cluess does not appear to be worried about his embarrassment of riches at point guard as may play the two together. The addition of Jones makes an already potent offense even more terrifying. It also make the Gaels an even heavier favorite in the MAAC and arguably the best team in the New York City area.
We missed this last night, but we have to congratulate the ACC for calling out Notre Dame and essentially telling them that the Fighting Irish either join the ACC in all sports (including football where they have a ridiculous contract with NBC and a BCS loophole) or they can forget about joining the conference for any other sports. We have nothing against Notre Dame as an institution and particularly as a basketball team, but their bizarre relationship with the Big East always seemed strange to us and has adversely affected the Big East. Now the conference is on the verge of falling apart and Notre Dame like other schools is grovelling at the feet of other conferences. In the current climate, it is unrealistic for Notre Dame or any other school to expect a conference particularly one in a position of power to have terms dictated to it. While some Irish fans may have a difficult time accepting the new reality, it appears that some local writers are urging them to think about the future and stop living in the past.
California basketball coach Mike Montgomeryunderwent surgery for an undisclosed condition yesterday. Neither the school nor Montgomery disclosed any information about the surgery or condition other than to say the surgery was “successful”. There is no definitive time table for Montgomery’s return, but he hopes to be to return by November 1 for the team’s exhibition opener. In the interim, assistant coaches Jay John and Travis DeCuire will assume Montgomery’s responsibilities. We wish Montgomery a speedy recovery and hope to see him on the sidelines in the next few weeks.
The US Basketball Writers Association issued its preseason list for the Wayman Tisdale Award, which is given annually to the top freshman in the country. This year’s list features 12 freshman, who if you have followed recruiting at all you are familiar with even before the season starts. We cannot argue with any of the names included, but we do find it interesting that three Kentucky players made the list. In our eyes, the favorite are (in alphabetical order) Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Andre Drummond, and Austin Rivers. Having seen the rest of these guys play and knowing what we know about the situations they will be playing in we have a hard time seeing any of the other players making a serious run at this unless their games improved significantly over the summer.
It seems like every day a new violation gets reported. Most of the time they are relatively minor, but like the one that Bob Knightapparently committed they are violations and deserve a reprimand at the very least. Of course, there are the violations that some fans try to come up with like this one that we received in our inbox yesterday. The author bases his premise that Kentucky has committed a violation on the idea that a random fan who bought a ticket to a Kentucky game has made a donation to the school and thus is a representative of the school. We are all for punishing schools if and when the break the rules, but we don’t need to be stretching the interpretation of rules to find violations.
We’re starting to become concerned about the fall that Bob Huggins endured on Friday that sent him to the hospital with four broken ribs. Initially it was believed that he would released on Saturday, but as of late Sunday night, Huggins was still being held in a Las Vegas hospital for observation purposes. Doctors were apparently concerned about bone fragments that could cause other problems, and anyone who has had such an injury says that there is a great deal of pain while breathing. Regardless, we hope that Huggins can get out of the hospital soon and resume his normal activities of recruiting, coaching and scowling at people.
This article at Fanhouse argues that USC basketball got off fairly easy in light of the OJ Mayo scandal and the subsequent penalties (or lack thereof) handed down by the NCAA. Um, we guess? What seems to be missing in this analysis is that the athletic department unsuccessfully threw Trojan basketball to the wolves in an effort to save the football program from harsher sanctions. But at least they were proactive in getting in front of the problems and making the organization think that they were serious about self-policing in at least one sport. If USC had been as cooperative with punishing themselves over Reggie Bush’s indiscretions as they were with OJ Mayo, the gridiron Trojans may not be facing a two-year ban from the postseason.
This article on Dan Beebe, the “Savior of the Big 12,” paints a much different picture than the one that was being bandied about when it appeared the implosion of that league was imminent. A good lesson learned here.
Former Oklahoma all-american and jazz musician Wayman Tisdale, who passed away from cancer in 2009, will be honored in perpetuity as the namesake for an award handed out by the USBWA to the top freshman player in America. Given that nowadays the top rookie is often the best collegiate player in America as well (John Wall, Kevin Durant), this is a great way to remember the gentle giant from Tulsa.
UCLA’s Nikola Dragovic was arrested and subsequently suspended by head coach Ben Howland for felony assault stemming from an incident at a Hollywood concert last month. This is the second physical-force-related arrest for Dragovic in the past two seasons, as he was also arrested on suspicion of shoving his girlfriend during an argument last year. He was not prosecuted for that allegation, but we’re starting to have serious reservations about the talented Serb’s anger management. UCLA is not off to a good start at all this season, including numerous injuries, a loss to Cal State Fullerton, and now an arrest to one of their top returnees all within the first five weeks.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird headlined this year’s inductees to the National Collegiate Hall of Fame, along with several other luminaries of the game, including former Michigan State head coach Jud Heathcote, Oklahoma star Wayman Tisdale, all-time NCAA leading scorer Travis Grant, former UCLA/UAB coach Gene Bartow, USA Basketball leader Bill Wall, and Walter Byers, the first executive director of the NCAA.
To that end, here’s a Bird/Magic story you probably don’t already know. From the KC Star, the two players were invited to compete on a World Invitational Tournament team coached by then-national championship Kentucky coach Joe B. Hall. Astonishingly, both players were put on the second string by Hall, and shockers, neither of them particularly liked that. Read about the whole story at the above link.
In case you missed it, the #1-rated power forward in the class of 2010, Tobias Harris, committed to Tennessee at the end of last week. The 6’8 player who likes what Tyler Smith has been able to accomplish in Knoxville is the highest-rated player UT has ever signed. He also considered Maryland, Syracuse, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Louisville and West Virginia.
What’s this? Two days in a row with FBs? Indeed. There’s a lot to get caught up on…
Duke Downer. The biggest news today was the news that Duke point guard Elliot Williams (he of the happy, happy feet) will be leaving the Duke program so that he can move closer to Memphis, his hometown. Reportedly his mother is facing a life-threatening illness there and Williams wants to be nearby for support as she battles her disease. He plans on petitioning the NCAA to waive the one-year transfer obligation so that he will be able to play immediately at his new school (presumably Memphis). This is undoubtedly a major blow to Coach K’s backcourt in 2009-10, as he’ll now be left with only Jon Scheyer and Nolan Smith to log minutes there. Big things were expected of Williams based on his insertion into the starting lineup at midseason and his excellent all-around play down the stretch. Duke fans are largely crushed by this news, given the unfortunate circumstances causing it as well as the huge, gaping hole in the backcourt it leaves (while, ironically, the perfect fix named Seth Curry can only wait and watch next season). In other Duke news that came out today, Coach K is the highest paid Duke employee by far ($3.6M last year) – no surprise there.
Like Father, Not Like Son. A bit of a surprise today is that Jeffrey Jordan (you know, that Mike guy’s son) is ending his basketball career at Illinois to focus on his studies. This comes on the heels of news from earlier this year that Jordan’s hard work and commitment to the program had resulted in a scholarship for the rest of his time at the school. Guess he’d had enough. Actually, we can totally understand this. Jordan was undeniably under more pressure to perform than any walk-on turned scholarship player in the history of college basketball, and although it made for nice copy, it’s safe to say that Jordan probably didn’t love the sport anywhere near the same as his famous dad. He probably reached a personal epiphany of some kind that included a heart-to-heart with pops, and once MJ gave him the blessing, he’s now free to pursue the activities he truly enjoys. Good for him. And good for him for working his tail off in his two years at Illinois to go from walk-on to scholarship to expected contributor, despite limited talent.
Vegas, Baby. The WAC has followed its mid-major brethren WCC and Mountain West Conferences by moving its postseason tournament to Las Vegas, where the Orleans Arena will host beginning in 2011. This comes on the heels of a very successful WCC Tournament at the Orleans last year, where a sold-out, raucous arena was shown on national television for St. Mary’s vs. Gonzaga. The MWC already holds its conference tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center down the street, and this move by the WAC means that Vegas will become the basketball destination for every legitimate conference (save the Pac-10) west of the Rockies every March. Sounds like a really fun environment for fans of these leagues.
No, No, No. Everyone got this wrong. Derrick Rose wasn’t flashing a gang sign in the below pic, he was practicing universal remote hand signals for the letter “B” on the SAT exam.
It’s been a while since we updated things (Wall to Kentucky), so let’s get caught up this evening…
RIP Wayman. You’ve undoubtedly heard the sad news about 44-year old Wayman Tisdale’s passing on May 15. Obviously, we never met Tisdale, but everyone agrees that he was a person who touched the lives of many through his athletic and musical career. ESPN takes a look back here, and CNNSI reflected on his legacy in the state of Oklahoma here. Jeff Goodman tells a story about Tisdale following through on a promise to a budding jouralist (him). Tisdale’s public memorial service was last Wednesday.
Smoke, then Fire. We mentioned previously that it’s unfathomable to us that USCwouldn’t take Renardo Sidney, given their astonishing and proven ability to look the other way. Maybe they knew that Rodney Guillory’s associate, Louis Johnson, was chirping like a parrot to anyone who will listen that he witnessed Tim Floyd handing Guillory a cool grand in return for the delivery of OJ Mayo. Now Mayo’s talking to the feds about Guillory, and at least one writer thinks the whole darned ship is going up in flames. The million-dollar question is whether the NCAA investigators have the sack to do it. (our response: yes, but half-assed). Update: Noel Johnson, a 2009 signee, left the program today, leaving Dwight Lewis, and um, Lil Romeo?
Transfers. Iowa’s Jeff Peterson (11 ppg) will transfer to Arkansas for the 2010-11 season; Indiana’s Nick Williams (9/5) will return to the South to play for Ole Miss (he was the Alabama POY in 2008); and, Clark Kellogg’s kid, Alex, will leave Providence for Ohio University (Bobcats, not Buckeyes) to play his senior season. In corollary news, Oklahoma’s Juan Pattillo was shown the door by Jeff Capel for undisclosed team violations.
Obligatory Kentucky News. It’s out with the old and in with the new, as three scholarship at Kentucky are given the pink slip to make room for Calipari’s motherlode of talent. The buzz is already loud for Kentucky as the preseason #1 next year, but we’re a little surprised Jodie Meeks hasn’t made his decision yet (he’s unlikely to move up to the first round).
Coaching News. Illinois top man Bruce Weber got a $500k raise and a three-year extension based on his stellar work in Champaign last season. Villanova’s Jay Wrighttalked to and then withdrew from the search for a new Philadelphia 76ers head man. Wazzu’s new man Ken Bonesigned with the school for seven years and $650k per year, according to school records. Michigan’s John Beilein will chair the NCAA’s Ethics Comittee, featuring Johnny Dawkins, Jeff Capel and the omnipresent Dave Odom… does anyone else find it odd that Beilein’s charge here is to clarify the rules as written, even though he used legal loopholes to get out of his stated buyout with WVU when he left for greener pastures? Finally, here’s a rather-suspect list of the top ten coaches in America today – it omits Bill Self and John Calipari, which leads us to believe that the author did not watch the 2008 national championship game.
Other Errata. CJ Henry is officially enrolled at Kansas and will get to play with his brother, super-wing Xavier Henry, next season in Lawrence.
Former Tennessee guard Ramar Smith (whom Coach Bruce Pearl kicked off the team in 2008) was arrested for robbery (the holy trinity: money, guns and marijuana) last week, and he’s currently awaiting trial.
Luke Winn gives us a glimpse at what Mississippi St. will look like next year (with John Riek and Renardo Sidney in the fold).
Sad news from Norman last night as former Oklahoma great Wayman Tisdale announced at the OU-TCU football game (via video message) that he is recovering well after a recent surgery requiring doctors to amputate part of his right leg. They discovered cancer below his knee last year after he had broken that leg in a fall at his home. On the one hand, we’re glad to hear that he’s doing well after surgery, but we’re disheartened to hear that such a seemingly nice guy who is still quite young is dealing with a very serious form of cancer. Regardless, it got us to thinking about Tisdale.
Tisdale Was Unstoppable at Oklahoma
While many people may remember Tisdale’s twelve seasons in the NBA as a serviceable big man with a 15/6 average, we always envision him in a blood red SOONERS jersey laying waste to the Big 8 during his three years in Norman. Seriously, Tisdale invented the word “beast” with his play on the low blocks at Oklahoma. Playing in an era (1982-85) when freshmen weren’t typically the best players on the team, Tisdale walked onto campus and immediately started dropping double-doubles (25/10) on anybody who got in his way, becoming the first freshman AP All-American in the history of the game. He carried that average throughout his three year OU career (first team all-american each year), leading the Sooners to two Big 8 regular season titles and one tournament title as Oklahoma became ascended to national prominence under Billy Tubbs. In fact, Tisdale remains the all-time leader in points scored as a Sooner, with 2,661 in his career.
Music Was Always Tisdale’s Truest Passion (photo credit: waymantisdale.com)
We always wondered what Tisdale could have done if he had been completely focused on basketball, because as it turned out, Tisdale’s other consuming passion of contemporary jazz has arguably made him more well-known in that arena than he ever was as a hoopster. Has any athlete ever been so accomplished in two completely different worlds as Wayman Tisdale? In addition to recording eight solo albums in the genre, he’s had several #1 hit records, numerous top ten albums and was named the Bassist of the Year in 2002 by the National Smooth Jazz Awards.
Take a listen to his triumphant return in the YouTube video below, and check out the music at the end of the clip. Not bad, not bad at all. Best of luck to Wayman as he fights to stay cancer-free.
In the most surprising and disorienting news of the month, Kansas State’s freshman all-american and shoulda-been Player of the Year Michael Beasley has decided to further his game at the appropriate professional level, considering he singlehandedly kicked the living crap out of everyone in college-world for a few months.
How good was this guy? In 33 games, he had 28 double-doubles. He had thirteen 30+ point games, seven 15+ rebound games, and four 30/15 games including a monster 40/17 outing against Missouri. He led the nation in average efficiency at 29.7, a key statistic where only 34 players were 20+ this season. Put simply, he was unstoppable this year, and he’d be wasting his time competing against college players any longer.
Looking at BEASTley’s numbers (26/12), it got us to thinking – where does his year rank among the all-time greatest freshmen in college basketball? Freshmen weren’t allowed to play varsity until the mid-70s, so we started with Magic Johnson and ended up with thirteen (+ Beasley) names of superb freshmen from the last thirty years so we could do a quick comparison. We’re quite sure we forgot a couple, so don’t get your thong in a wad – just leave it in the comments section.
Wow, is there any question that the new NBA age-limit rule has had a major effect on college basketball? Four of the best individual freshman seasons of the last three decades were in the last two years (and we didn’t even include Derrick Rose or OJ Mayo!).
The next thought we have is that, yeah, Beasley’s individual numbers outrank everyone else on the list with the closest competitors being his Big 12 predecessors, Kevin Durant and Wayman Tisdale (last spotted on Jazz Cafe). LSU’s Chris Jackson (aka the American patriot Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf) has him on scoring, but Beasley tears him up on everything else, and neither made it very far in the NCAA Tournament.
Quick aside: the only team on this list with two of these guys was that 1989-90 LSU team (oh, and Stanley Roberts was also on that team), and they couldn’t even get to the Sweet 16? Seriously, how is that possible?? Dale Brown only explains the incompetent game management and lack of motivation part, but it doesn’t diminish the talent there. Sheesh.
Getting back to Beasley, where does the Big 12 find these long, rangy guys who walk right into college and put up double-double averages? For what it’s worth, they don’t go very far in the Tourney, although we’re sure that the long-term residual effects of having a Tisdale, Durant or Beasley in your program can mitigate that one year (after all, Texas went to the Elite Eight this year, two rounds further than they did with Durant last year).
Best of luck as the #1 or #2 pick in draft, Michael. We’re sure that South Beach or OKC will suit you even better than Manhattan (KS) did.