Posted by nvr1983 on March 11th, 2014
- When Kansas lost at Oklahoma State on March 1 we were less concerned with the loss than with Joel Embiid and his apparent back injury. Initial reports out of Lawrence were that Embiid would miss the last two regular season games, but was expected to be back in time for the Big 12 Tournament. Instead, Embiid met with an orthopedic spine specialist in Los Angeles yesterday for further evaluation of his ongoing back problems. Yesterday evening Bill Self announced that Embiid, who reportedly has a spinal stress fracture (no idea on what level or why this required a trip to Los Angeles to figure it out or confirm it), would sit out the Big 12 Tournament and likely the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament. This is obviously a huge blow for both the Jayhawks and Embiid. As with all back injuries we will need to wait and see how Embiid responds to conservative therapy before making any further judgments on his progress.
- It is not very often that we discuss international players on this site (the last time that we remember doing it regularly a New York Times reporter was chasing down leads in Turkey), but it is not often that one of the top 10 international recruits in a class decides to college basketball. That is what Dusan Ristic, a 7′ tall Serbian ranked #8 overall for international recruits in his age group, is doing by committing to Arizona and will be part of the incoming class this fall. We won’t pretend to know anything about Ristic, but he seems like an interesting project for Sean Miller. In terms of his commitment, the most interesting thing about it is that Ristic opted to leave the European professional league to play college basketball because he felt that it was better for the development of his game.
- It seems a little later than usual, but Seth Davis put out his annual All-Glue Team yesterday. We do not have any issues with the selections, but it seems like Seth is going with more “mainstream” players–particularly Patric Young–than he has in previous years. Perhaps it is a version of recency bias that is making us value current players more in terms of their contributions, but it seems like the current All-Glue Team has more borderline stars on it than previous versions did.
- One more spot opened up on the coaching carousel as Appalachian State fired Jason Capel (or will not renew his contract). Capel, who was the youngest coach in Division I when he was hired at the age of 30, went 53-70 in four seasons and was only over .500 in his first year. Capel’s overall performance before this year (9-21) has not been that bad, but his tenure was largely unremarkable with the exception of his ongoing refusal to let Devonte Graham, an Appalachian State signee, out of his National Letter of Intent. Given Capel’s pedigree (playing at North Carolina and being the son of former coach Jeff II and brother of current Duke assistant Jeff III) we would expect to see him on someone’s staff relatively soon.
- With Selection Sunday rapidly approaching many fans are debating the impact of various injuries and how it should affect seeding. With that in mind, Dan Hanner’s injury splits makes for some compelling reading. As Hanner notes these all should be viewed with the caveat that these numbers are influenced by the opposition, but they are worth checking out. The Selection Committee might not take these numbers into account, but you should consider them when filling out your bracket in about a week.
Posted by nvr1983 on March 10th, 2014
- It has been March for a while now, but it didn’t really feel like until Friday night when teams started receiving NCAA Tournament automatic bids. The first team to do so was Harvard by virtue of winning the Ivy League regular season title. They were soon joined by Mercer, Coastal Carolina, Wichita State, and Eastern Kentucky. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the weekend was Milwaukee beating Green Bay in the Horizon League semifinals, but we wouldn’t necessarily call them a bid thief because we doubt that Green Bay will be able to get an at-large bid.
- The opposite side of the end of the regular season are the coaches being shown the door. Todd Howard appears to be the first one fired after he was let go by IUPUI. Howard went 26-70 at the school including 6-26 this year (1-13 in the Summit League). On the other end of the spectrum is Oliver Purnell, who will return next season at DePaul despite the Blue Demons going 11-20 overall and 3-15 in the Big East. We understand that Purnell just finished year four of a seven-year deal, but with the city’s plans for possibly building an arena for the school to play in you would expect that they would want to provide a better on-court product to get some votes behind the project.
- It seems strange, but in some ways Florida–the #1 team in the country–is largely being ignored. Now some of that may have to do with Wichita State and its undefeated season. It certainly is not because these Gators–particularly the seniors–have not been in the national spotlight before. They will never be the back-to-back championship Gator teams, but they have been to three straight Elite Eights. As Andy Staples points out the growth of this group has been substantial and if they are to get over that Elite Eight hurdle that experience may be the key.
- We have seen a lot of strange transfer cases over the years, but the one involving Bubu Palo has to be one of the more unique ones. Palo, who has been mentioned in this space many times, missed much of this season after being suspended following a sexual assault charge that was later dropped. In January, a judge ruled that Palo should be allowed back on the team and he was, but he has not played for team since rejoining the team. Now it appears that Palo, a senior, will attempt to transfer and seek a hardship waiver. Honestly, with how strange this case has been and how easily the NCAA has been granting hardship waivers we would not be surprised to see Palo wind up at another school next year.
- If you are looking for an under-the-radar team to make a run in the NCAA Tournament, you could do worse than George Washington. The Colonials are currently 22-7 overall and 10-5 in the Atlantic-10 (4th in the conference), but will be getting Kethan Savage, their second-leading scorer, back in time for the conference tournament. Savage has been out since January 18 after missing the last 11 games with a broken foot. Before his injury, the Colonials were 15-3. Since the injury, they are 7-4. Obviously some of that has to do with playing a tougher conference, but it will be interesting to see how long it takes Savage and the team to get used to playing together because if they adapt quickly the could be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament.
Posted by nvr1983 on March 7th, 2014
- Much of the next month will be spent with Doug McDermott collecting awards and by now you have heard almost everything about McDermott including his recruitment, how he got passed over despite every major program actively recruiting at his school. Still the piece by Elizabeth Merrill on McDermott is full of interesting anecdotes that might help you get to know him better. To us one of the more interesting things about McDermott is that despite the fact that he seems to have all of features you would expect from a player that the media would shove down everybody’s throat leading to a backlash we don’t get the sense that people are tired of McDermott.
- After coming into the season with plenty of buzz, Harvard has flown under the radar, but with the NCAA Tournament just around the corner the Crimson are on the verge of wrapping up the first automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament tomorrow if they beat Yale. SB Nation has an excellent story on Tommy Amaker, the head coach and architect of Harvard’s basketball renaissance. As David Tannenwald points out Amaker’s time in Cambridge (they technically play their games in Allston) has not been without controversy, but what he has done to turn the program from an also-ran into a frequently-mentioned NCAA Tournament dark horse.
- Apparently some people actually thought that Andrew Wiggins might stick around Lawrence for more than one season because we heard some surprised voices when Wiggins essentially said goodbye to Kansas fans in what is widely expected to be his last home game as a Jayhawk. Wiggins might not have lived up to the ridiculous expectations heaped on him before the season (anything short of LeBron would have been a disappointment), but he still is a legitimate choice as Big 12 Player of the Year so we have a hard time calling his season a disappointment. Wiggins might never become the player that some projected him to be, but it is already clear that he should be a solid NBA player for a long time.
- In one of the weirder stories that we have mentioned in this space, Scott A. Weitzell, the director of basketball operations at New Hampshire, was fired amid allegations that he videotaped his team’s players in the locker room during one of the team’s games in January. The school has already tried to scrub its site of Weitzell, but his old profile is still available thanks to the magic of Google cache. Unless this turns out to be something more widespread this is probably the last we will hear of this story on a national level, but it will probably be a big story for a while in New Hampshire.
- We have not seen much of it up close, but based on how popular college basketball is the fact that getting autographs from star players has become a big business should not be a surprise. As Jason King points out, this is a bigger deal at some campuses than others. It goes without saying that the autographs of future NBA All-Stars will be worth something, but even the autographs of players who are “only” regulars on top teams can be worth quite a bit of money. We always knew that basketball players and other elite athletes would frequently get stopped on campus. We just did not realize that it would be by adults looking for autographs.
Posted by nvr1983 on March 6th, 2014
- When we saw a story on ESPN.com about Dean Smith we were tempted to overlook it particularly after the John Feinstein story that we linked to on Monday. We are glad that we did because Tommy Tomlinson’s article on Smith, his failing memory, and the people who stand by him is probably the best thing you will read all day. As we mentioned on Monday, we cannot remember anybody saying something negative about Smith on a personal level. If you were not aware of why that is, this article and the anecdotes within it should explain it.
- With Wichita State finishing the regular season undefeated, Matt Norlander decided it was time to compare this Wichita State team to the 2004 St. Joseph’s team, which was the last to go undefeated in the regular season. That 2004 team, which was led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West, ended up losing a game in their conference tournament so Wichita State could make it a step further than them by the start of the NCAA Tournament. While it might be interesting to compare the two teams numerically they are very different teams. The Shockers certainly have their share of well-known players, but are overall a much more balanced team that that St. Joe’s team. In the end, the way that most people will remember this Wichita State team will be scripted in the next month.
- We already read Mike DeCourcy’s response to Mark Cuban and now Larry Brown, a man who has plenty of experience at both the college and professional level, has decided to respond to Cuban’s comments that the NBDL would be better for player development than the NCAA is. Brown, who is actually based in Dallas now as the head coach at SMU, strongly disagreed with Cuban and said that the coaching players get at the NCAA level is vastly superior to what they would get in the NBDL. We can certainly agree with that assessment at SMU under someone like Larry Brown although we would not be quite as sure about that at some other colleges.
- We are getting to the point in the season where people are starting to seriously look at end of season individual honors. Some awards like National Player of the Year are all, but locked up (the flight attendants on planes going to Omaha might want to start making space in the overhead bins). Most of the others are up in the air. With that in mind, Seth Davis took a look at the races for player/coach/freshman of the year in each of the major conferences. We tend to agree with Davis’ picks here, but we wouldn’t be surprised if there were some differences in the final decisions on some of these awards.
- Some of you may remember Russ Pennell from his brief stint as head coach at Arizona when he took them to the Sweet 16 in 2009. Since that time Pennell served as head coach at Grand Canyon State University (yes, the one that caused the uproar recently) and the Phoenix Mercury of the WNBA. Now, Pennell is returning to Central Arkansas, where he played in college, to become the team’s new head coach. If you seem surprised that the name of a Southland Conference team seems familiar is because you may have heard of them when Corliss Williamson was briefly the coach there. Or perhaps you may have heard of one of their former players–Scottie Pippen.
Posted by nvr1983 on March 5th, 2014
- Unless you pay attention to college basketball exhibition games you probably are not familiar with the Carleton University basketball team. That’s a shame because as Jordan Conn notes they might be the closest thing to a dynasty that college basketball has seen since John Wooden’s UCLA teams. Winners of nine of the past 11 national championships in Canada the Ravens might be ignored by some because of the weak competition that they face in Canada, but as their performance against American college teams in exhbition games before this season started they would be a legitimitely good American college team. Most of you will probably never see the Ravens play, but it is still interesting to learn more about one of the most dominant programs in college basketball history.
- Most college basketball fans are focused on the NCAA Tournament, but yesterday the field for the 2014 Coaches vs Cancer Classic was announced. Duke is the obvious headliner in the field particularly with the #1 incoming recruiting class, but there are some other interesting storylines. The most obvious one is a potential match-up against Stanford, which would create a Mike Krzyzewski-Johnny Dawkins match-up (assuming Dawkins is still Stanford’s coach next season). UNLV could also be a dangerous team with their incoming class (both high schoolers and transfers). The one thing that we cannot stand with these events is that the hosts (Temple is the other one and it hardly merits mentioning) advance to the semifinals even if they lose to other teams earlier. We understand the need to sell tickets with big name programs, but it cheapens the earlier games.
- With the Sloan Sports Analytic Conference occurring this past week, sports analytics have gotten back into the mainstream media. One article that was featured in The Wall Street Journal last week that might be of interest to you at this point in the season is the “Hot Hand” theory espoused by Andrew Bocskocscky, John Ezekowitz, and Carolyn Stein. Their analysis (available here) essentially claims that players can increase their shooting percentage when they get on hot streaks. The actual analysis is a little more complete than that (Zach Lowe offers a more complete explanation), but the next time you hear somebody just mock the idea of the hot hand you might want to point out that it is a little more complex than they might think.
- That squeal you heard on Twitter yesterday was from college basketball writers who found out that Bruce Springsteen would be headlining this year’s Final Four concerts. While Springsteen is the main act the warm-up acts–Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, and The Killers–are not bad either. If you are in Dallas for the Final Four, the free concerts are worth checking out and over the years have featured a number of well-known performers. And if a program wants to announce some bad news the night that Springsteen is performing for free in front of what we would assume is most of the major college basketball writers would seem like a good time to do so.
- Just about the only time that we ever talk about junior college basketball is when one of the big-name junior college recruits signs with a Division I school, but for the case of Glenn Germany we will make an exception. Germany plays for the Community College of Allegheny County team, which normally would not merit mentioning except that he is 44-years-old and spent more than 15 years in prison. Like the Carleton basketball team, you will probably never see Germany play (unless this article inspires a national news show to do a feature on him), but he does have an interesting story and it is worth reading to see how he turned his life around.
Posted by nvr1983 on March 4th, 2014
- Coming off Saturday night’s loss at Oklahoma State the big concern out of Lawrence was not the Jayhawks’ loss, but instead was the health of Joel Embiid. Yesterday, Kansas announced that Embiid had reinjured his back and would miss the final two games of the regular season. Embiid could be back in time for the Big 12 Tournament, but with the Jayhawks’ final two games being against Texas Tech and West Virginia it would seem that the Jayhawks are locked into a #2 seed at worst. So while they could play Embiid in the Big 12 Tournament they have no need to do that so we would expect Embiid’s next game to be in the NCAA Tournament.
- Normally we would make a big deal out of Roscoe Smith (11 points and 11 rebounds per game) missing Wednesday’s game against San Diego State after suffering a concussion on Saturday, but with UNLV unlikely to make the NCAA Tournament it probably doesn’t affect the big picture. On the other hand, the absence of Isaiah Zierden (3.2 points per game) usually would not merit mentioning here, but with the freshman being out indefinitely after injuring the medial collateral ligament in his right knee it could be a fairly significant blow to Creighton. Zierdan played sparingly at times this year, but has shown flashes of his potential with three double-digit games this season including a 13-point performance against Villanova on February 16.
- Like many of you when we first read Mark Cuban‘s comments about how “hypocritical” the NCAA rules for one-and-done players were we were waiting for somebody to tear his argument apart. Mike DeCourcy was happy to oblige pointing out that it was the NBA that is in charge of the one-and-done situation. On some level we can understand Cuban’s logic that there is a better way to develop basketball ability than the current NCAA system he is going about it the wrong way. If he wants to make a change he needs to go to the other owners and the players association to make a change. On a selfish level, we would prefer that he opts to push for an age minimum of 21 years, but whatever option Cuban decides to pursue we hope he will do a little more homework in the future.
- Last week on Twitter we mentioned how Doug Gottlieb had been widely criticized for ranking Kentucky #7 in his preseason poll, but looking back on it now it is clear that he ranked them too highly. We also referenced how wrong we were in our preseason rankings with only a handful of teams being +/- 3 spots of where they are now. Dan Hanner took a deeper look into which teams are exceeding or falling short of preseason expectations. Much of his analysis focuses on his own predictions, but it does offer some interesting insight into polls overall as Hanner analyzes his own work.
- We are still a couple of weeks away from what should be a Black Monday for college basketball coaches, but that did not stop Tennessee-Martin from firing Jason James after his fifth consecutive losing season. James, who was an assistant at Tennessee-Martin before taking over as the head coach, finished with a 37-117 record in his five seasons there. The school’s administration commended James for leading running the program with “the highest degree of integrity,” but in the end he simply did not win enough. Although this will make for a vacancy at the Division I level don’t count on a big-name assistant heading to the Ohio Valley Conference so we would guess this job will probably go to an internal candidate or someone who doesn’t have high-major aspirations.
Posted by nvr1983 on March 3rd, 2014
- The immediate fall-out from the aftermath of Thursday night’s New Mexico State-Utah Valley game appears to be over, but we are guessing the consequences of this and other similar incidents will be dealt with in the off-season. If you haven’t seen the incident, the footage of court rush and fans fighting with players is pretty jarring. New Mexico State’s K.C. Ross-Miller was suspended for two games and Renaldo Dixon was suspended for one game by the Western Athletic Conference. Dana O’Neil is one of the few to voice her support of the fans and places the blame squarely on the shoulders of the players involved. We are not sure which way the WAC or other conference will go on this, but it will certainly be a topic that will be hotly debated.
- We have seen a lot of strange things in March over the years, but this year’s SWAC Tournament has to be pretty high up there. As a result of the APR rules four SWAC teams are ineligible for the NCAA Tournament, but after discussing the matter with the NCAA all ten of the teams in the SWAC are still participating in the conference tournament. Prior to this teams that had been barred from the NCAA Tournament did not participate in their conference tournament, but the school presidents voted to include all ten teams most likely to help increase ticket sales (Alabama State President Gwendolyn Boyd is one of two to vote against it). Now the winner of the conference’s automatic bid will be the team that is eligible for the NCAA Tournament and makes it the furthest in the conference tournament. If there is a tie (such as if two ineligible teams make the finals and only the losing semifinalists are eligible) then the higher-seeded team will be given the automatic bid. If that team happens to be the conference tournament champion, nobody will notice. If not, we could have a very weird championship celebration.
- It probably goes without saying that March is our favorite time of year, but over the past few years the change from February to March has also left us with a feeling of sadness since February 28 is Dean Smith‘s birthday. Normally that would be a time for celebration, but with Smith’s dementia and deteriorating health it brings our annual story on Smith and his difficulties from John Feinstein. Although sports fans (and college sports fans in particular) can harbor some of the biggest grudges we cannot think of anybody speaking out against Smith on a personal level. Many prominent coaches have legacies of piling up wins on the court, but Smith’s legacy is one of the few that extends beyond it.
- With its win over Syracuse on Saturday, Virginia clinched the ACC regular-season championship. Except the ACC does not recognize a regular-season champion. The rationale behind that decision is complex, but Shane Ryan’s column on why the ACC does not formally recognize its regular season champion does an excellent job of explaining the history behind it. Essentially what it boils down to is the other schools in the conference standing up to North Carolina and Dean Smith, who wanted the NCAA bid awarded to the winner of the regular season. The article also includes a few amusing anecdotes about North Carolina’s fixation on hanging up banners that others don’t recognize including its ridiculous 1924 Helms banner.
- Whenever a lower-tier program hires a big-name coach such as what Florida Atlantic did with Mike Jarvis six years ago we often hear about how that coach is going to turn the program around. However, more often as is the case with Jarvis that typically doesn’t happen. After six seasons (five of which were losing seasons) at FAU, Jarvis announced that he will resign at the end of the season. Jarvis says that he is making the move to explore other opportunities, but sources close to the situation say that Jarvis was going to be fired and the school gave him the option to resign instead. With Jarvis turning 69 just after the season ends, we would expect this is the last head coaching stop for Jarvis. If it is, he will finish with a 422-312 record with nine NCAA appearances in 25 seasons at Boston University, George Washington, St. John’s, and FAU.
Posted by nvr1983 on February 28th, 2014
- With the season winding down, UCLA appears to be looking at a fairly high seed (we have seen anywhere from 4-7 in brackets), but we have to wonder about them going forward after Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, the team’s two best players were suspended for last night’s game against Oregon. The outcome of last night’s game isn’t nearly as important as the suspensions–one game each for “violating team rules”. That could certainly mean a lot of things, but it has to make you wonder about the mindset of Anderson (14.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game) and Adams (17.2 points per game) heading into March.
- It has been a few weeks since we had heard much about the North Carolina academic scandal so we were a bit surprised to see that Business Week had decided to make it this week’s cover story. For those who have followed this story there is not anything particularly shocking in the story, but it will only serve to further damage the school’s reputation. At this point it seems unlikely that either the NCAA or any governing body will take significant action against the school and you can argue that print media is dying, but having that cover on newsstands across the world certainly won’t help North Carolina’s brand.
- For the Tar Heel fans who might be feeling a little down after yet another mainstream media source took a shot at the school for their handle of the academic scandal, Grantland has a feature on a topic–the 2005 title team–that should serve as a way to perk you up. Except that it is about how the key players on that team failed to live up to expectations. We don’t mind to pile on Tar Heel fans today, but it is an interesting topic particularly when you consider that you can make a strong case for that team being one of the top teams since 2000. Oh, and if you want to know if Illinois fans are still upset about losing that title game check out the comment section.
- Bill Self might not want to play Wichita State, but that does not mean he does not appreciate what they are doing. When asked about the Shockers, Self reiterated his stance that he would continue to schedule games to help his program not others. This certainly won’t endear him to Wichita State fans, but Self did come out in support of the Shockers as a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if they are undefeated when Selection Sunday rolls around. Honestly, we don’t understand how anybody could believe that the Selection Committee would pass on an undefeated team much less one that made it to the Final Four last year (yes, we know the last part shouldn’t matter).
- By now you should know that we basically link Luke Winn’s Power Rankings almost every week. It’s not that Luke pays us (that would be a nice gift though), but it is because it is one of the few columns that we learn something new from every week. This week the two things that jump out at us are the block matrix that Luke created and how Xavier Thames‘ usage and production has decreased recently. The part of the block matrix that jumped out at us is how underrated Chris Obekpa is as a defender. He won’t generate the headlines that Joel Embiid does mainly because of Obekpa’s limited offensive repertoire, but these numbers suggest that he might be able to find his way onto a NBA roster some day. As for Thames, being on the East Coast we do not get to see as much of him as we would like, but the graph showing his drop in usage and production is instructive if you are trying to figure out what is wrong with San Diego State.
Posted by nvr1983 on February 27th, 2014
- Coming into the season if you would have guessed that Ole Miss would have a significant discipline problem you probably would have guessed it was coming from Marshall Henderson. It has turned out that Henderson has behaved relatively well and it is instead sophomore guard Derrick Millinghaus, who was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules yesterday. Millinghaus was averaging 7.2 points and 2.4 assists per game this season so his absence will certainly be felt, but fortunately for the Rebels they have enough depth in the backcourt that they should be able to withstand his loss.
- Barring a miraculous run in the Big Ten Tournament, Indiana will not be back in the NCAA Tournament this season and at most will be looking at a lower-level post-season tournament. So it was surprising to see Tom Crean announce that Hanner Mosquera-Perea was back on the team after missing just 11 days and two games following his DUI arrest on February 14. As you can see from the comments on that post even the Indiana fan base appears divided on Crean’s decision. To be honest we cannot really understand why Crean would let Mosquera-Perea come back to the team this season unless he was concerned that Mosquera-Perea might transfer if he was held out for the rest of the season.
- The BYU Honor Code made national headlines with its restrictions in particular the case involving Brandon Davies. Now it appears that the school is changing the way it deals with its Honor Code in relation to how much it discloses to the media. The school will now only release information on the violations if it is a matter of public record or if the student-athletes initiates the conversation on the violation. The new rules regarding disclosure of information certainly makes sense since the old policy would appear to violate the student’s right to privacy. This obviously won’t address the issues some people have with actual Honor Code, but it is a big step in the right direction in terms of the student-athlete’s privacy rights.
- Duke might be taking the crown for this year’s top recruiting class, but that is not stopping John Calipari from already starting to put another ridiculous recruiting class next year. His latest 5-star addition is Chicago junior shooting guard Charles Matthews who committed to Kentucky yesterday. Matthews, ranked 12th in ESPN’s class of 2015 rankings, chose Kentucky over Illinois, Kansas, Marquette, and Michigan State. Obviously, it is very early in that recruiting cycle (only 10 of ESPN’s top 60 recruits have committed so far) and Matthews is Kentucky’s first commitment for the class of 2015, but we are fairly confident that Calipari will be putting together yet another blockbuster class. For a comprehensive breakdown of what Matthews is bringing to Lexington check out Jeff Borzello’s excellent breakdown on Matthews’ commitment.
- The topic of rushing the court (or whatever term you prefer) seems to be coming increasing scrutiny these days. Most observers do not necessarily issue with the concept of rushing the court or the exuberance that college students have for the game (the latter is part of what makes the sport so special). The issue that some have (and one that we occasionally poke fun at on Twitter) is how or when certain crowds should rush the court. Gary Parrish argues that an argument can be made for banning court storms all together, but it is pointless to argue the relative merit of one versus the other. We agree with Parrish to a degree and are generally ok with most court storms as long as they don’t feel forced. It might feel weird to see students at some school rush the court, but it is probably unreasonable to expect kids between the age of 18 and 22 to understand all of the tradition that some of these programs have or even to have the same sensibilities as we do.
Posted by nvr1983 on February 26th, 2014
- With the end of the regular season rapidly approaching many fans are finally coming to the realization that an undefeated regular season for Wichita State is getting closer. What is interesting is the backlash that the Shockers, a Final Four team last year that came closer to beating eventual national champion Louisville than any other team did, have received. As Mike DeCourcy notes, people are coming up with all sorts of questions about the Shockers and doing so completely ignores the point of how impressive the Shockers have been. Now 30-0, the Shockers are looking at the very real possibility of being a #1 seed. If you don’t think the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee is going to give an undefeated team that went to the Final Four last year a #1 seed we don’t know what to tell you. Yeah, the latter part shouldn’t matter, but the reality is that it does. You can certainly debate whether the Shockers are one of the top four teams in the country and it is a reasonable debate, but don’t let that stop you from appreciating what they are on the verge of doing.
- Kansas released some additional details about the “Fieldhouse Apartments”, which will essentially be its basketball dorm. The primary donor is from Kent McCarthy, a prominent Kansas alum, who appears to have made his money through hedge funds (all with the name “Jayhawk” in them). Interestingly the Kansas legislature denied the school additional funding through bond offerings to help with construction, but the school is still moving forward with its plans. With this coming on the heels of Kentucky’s Wildcat Coal Lodge it seems like we could be entering an era of increasingly ridiculous student housing with each school trying to outdo the others.
- With new NBA commissioner Adam Silver voicing his interest in increasing the age limit for players entering the NBA it is possible that we could be seeing the end of the one-and-done era. Michael Weinreb reflected on the impact of the one-and-done era. We are torn on how we feel about one-and-dones. We obviously low the level of skill and athleticism that they bring to the table, but we do miss getting to see key players develop over years. On the other hand, we are not fans of restricting the ability of individuals to enter a marketplace that has essentially been granted monopoly rights in this country.
- CBS and Turner Sports announced their broadcast teams for the NCAA Tournament yesterday. Outside of the issues around the Final Four, which we have addressed before (semifinals on TBS and with alternate team-specific broadcasts for all of the Final Four games) there is nothing that is particularly surprising compared to last season. There are certainly some notable absences–namely Gus Johnson–not being involved. We would have thought that this was due to contractual obligations, but Bill Raftery is still doing NCAA Tournament games even though he like Johnson works for Fox Sports One now.
- Were you sick of all of the talk about the Duke-Syracuse game including what was featured in this space? Well, that’s too bad because we are going to talk about it again today. Except that we are going to talk about the game that was played on February 1. Why would we talk about that game now? It turns out that two Duke fans–Shane Hackett and Leslie Gilman–were kicked out of the game by someone who has been described by multiple reports as an overzealous security guard. Hackett and Gilman had been going back and forth with Syracuse to figure out a way to compensate them for apparently being unfairly kicked out. Syracuse offered the couple $190 (the face value of the two tickets), but had Hackett turned them down saying that he paid $1,000 for the tickets. So a local Syracuse radio station came to the rescue and offered the couple $500 if they did not sue the school and agreed to never set foot inside the Carrier Dome again. The couple agreed to the terms even though the school was not involved in the deal.
Posted by nvr1983 on February 25th, 2014
- Syracuse fans might not be happy about it, but yesterday ACC commissioner John Swofford said that the ruling on the C.J. Fair charge play was a “judgement call” and would not be reviewed formally by the conference. Seth Davis talked to Tony Greene, the official in the middle of the controversy, and while Greene would not directly discuss the call it appears that he feels that he made the right call. The more interesting part of Greene’s comments are that when Fair got the ball Greene was already anticipating the drive and possible contact. Some might consider that being well-prepared, but others might view it as making a judgment before the play actually happens.
- At this point we have heard enough about this call and Jim Boeheim‘s reaction to it discussed to the point where we probably won’t even read another column about it, but the one thing that we are interested and haven’t heard discussed much is how people would have reacted if it had been Fair reacting the way that Boeheim did. This is something that we mentioned earlier this year when Fran McCaffery threw his temper tantrum and it is something that was touched upon during yesterday’s CBS College Basketball podcast: we tend to let college basketball get away with worse public behavior than nearly any other sporting figure. Next time you are at a college basketball game take a little time to watch how the coaches are reacting and if you are close enough listen to what they say (cover the ears of any young children nearby). Can you imagine any other situation in which that behavior is acceptable?
- Speaking of Fran McCaffery, he is the latest coach to tell his Iowa players to get off Twitter at least for the rest of the season. Some might paint this as McCaffery joining the ranks of Rick Pitino and Tom Izzo in their general distaste for the platform, but it is more likely a reaction to Zach McCabe‘s tweet in response to some critical fans. As we said before we don’t agree with the idea that players cannot handle the “pressure” of social media, but when your players cannot act appropriately on the platform you are forced to step in.
- We are getting to the point in the season where some fan bases are looking forward to offseason so the head coaches of their teams can be fired. Dan Hanner took a more nuanced look at how long coaches typically last utilizing a Kaplan-Meier survival curve. His analysis suggests that coaches are most likely to get fired after three seasons so if your least favorite head coach is not there yet you might want to temper your hopes. Hanner also takes a look at which coaches might be most likely and least likely to be fired this off-season so if you are hoping for your coach to be fired it is definitely worth checking out.
- Following the loss of Brandon Ashley some analysts essentially wrote Arizona off as a national title contender. We even remember hearing that one Pac-12 coach reportedly said that the Wildcats were a Sweet 16 team without him. Nobody would argue that Arizona is not worse without Ashley in the lineup, but the question is how much worse are the Wildcats. We cannot necessarily look at their offensive and defensive numbers in the two periods because the post-Ashley period has been so brief that we do not have reliable sample sizes to work with so Ken Pomeroy took a look at how they performed as a team overall after Ashley was injured compared to their expected and it turns out that they were not that far off. Now this should obviously be interpreted with a somewhat similar caveat about sample size, but it shows that the Wildcats overall performance during this brief stretch might be closer to being a national title favorite than some people are giving them credit for.
Posted by nvr1983 on February 24th, 2014
- By now you have seen countless replays and photoshops of Jim Boeheim‘s meltdown at the end of Syracuse’s loss at Duke on Saturday night. You have also probably seen at least a dozen columns critiquing the call and Boeheim’s reaction to it. Even though we were there with almost a straight on view of Boeheim we won’t bore you with any more specific analysis of it other than to say it was amusing to see in person (as was Boeheim’s post-game press conference) or try to argue that he should be fined or suspended for his reaction (completely ridiculous). The point remains that there is no circumstance under which Boeheim should have reacted like that particularly in that situation. Boeheim’s 945 wins (and counting) at Syracuse will buy him more leeway for his reaction than some other coaches this season have received, but as we said right after it happened given the circumstances it might be the most meltdown this season.
- When Cody Doolin left the San Francisco basketball team early this season we figured that it would the last we would see of him as a college player. The senior point guard, who had started all 103 games of his college career and averaged 13 points and 7 assists with just 1.5 turnovers this season, left the team just four games into his senior season after reportedly getting into an altercation with a teammate during practice. At the time we mentioned that we have no idea what could have been so bad about the incident that Doolin would leave team, but on Friday he announced that he would be transferring to UNLV. Doolin will reportedly seek a waiver (presumably as a graduate student) to play immediately for UNLV. Honestly, we were not completely sure that leaving your team after the season had started would even qualify you for redshirt status for the season. If he is allowed to play for the Rebels next season he would join a team that returns Khem Birch, Roscoe Smith, and Bryce Dejean-Jones and is bringing in a top ten class.
- Tulsa senior guard Pat Swilling Jr, who was averaging 8.6 points per game this season, is being investigated for potential sexual assault charges stemming from an incident on January 27 in which a Tulsa student is accusing Swilling of raping her. Swilling, who is the son of former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and one-term Louisiana House of Representative member Pat Swilling Sr, was suspended from the team earlier this month, but no explanation was offered. Swilling has had an interesting college career to say the least. After initially being kicked out of St. Joseph’s for being in possession of a stolen laptop, Swilling has spent time at Louisiana Tech and College of Southern Idaho before ending up at Tulsa. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 4 for a hearing which would prohibit Swilling from having any contact with his accuser.
- We are not sure what Kevin Willard is doing at Seton Hall, but it seems like he is suspending players left and right. His latest target is sophomore guard Sterling Gibbs who he appears to have been suspended because of his attitude in practice. Gibbs, a transfer from Texas, is second on the team in scoring (14.3 per game to Fuquan Edwin’s 14.5) and leads the team in assists (4.4 per game). We won’t necessarily chalk up Seton Hall’s 1-point loss at Creighton to Gibbs’ absence, but we would assume that Gibbs’ VORP is worth at least one point. As for when Gibbs will return it appears that it could be as soon as the team’s game on Tuesday as he is meeting with Willard in Chicago.
- According to Indiana it is once again safe to enter Assembly Hall. After temporarily postponing games last week when an eight-foot, 50-pound steel beam fell from the ceiling onto seats, Indiana will resume playing games in Assembly Hall. The women’s team played their first game on Saturday afternoon without and the men’s first game will be on Thursday when they play Iowa as a make-up for last Tuesday’s postponed game. We imagine the seats near where the beam fell will be among the less popular ones to sit in for the rest of the season.