Morning Five: 07.03.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 3rd, 2013

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  1. It’s conference realignment absolution week around the land, with the ACC, Big East and AAC all welcoming new members in their own imitable ways. The ACC did so with considerable hoopla, unveiling Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame as new members at the NASDAQ headquarters in lower Manhattan on Monday. Everyone is toeing the party line at this point, of course, (“best basketball conference of all-time,” etc.) but the sticking point is going to eventually hit some of the old-timers in this league when the ACC Tournament is no longer always held/incarcerated in the friendly confines of the Tar Heel State. The new Big East just hired a commissioner last week, and was last seen traipsing through midtown Manhattan trying to find some office space. Regardless, Butler, Xavier and Creighton are now on board with the Catholic Seven, and at least one mammal is ready for the transition. In the meantime, here’s the top five storylines facing the basketball-centric league as it sets out on its own path. The AAC is a little further along, even if the conference has not yet changed the sign on the door in Providence or has a crystal clear notion of its ultimate direction in both the BCS and college basketball. Dan Wolken writes that the league’s advantage is that it is finally able to move forward with a “clean slate,” even if it is mocked at “Conference USA 2.0″ for a while. This is the world we now live in; we may as well get used to it. 
  2. One of the new Big East schools, Creighton, received some great news on Tuesday when guard Grant Gibbs was given a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA (his reaction to the news in this video is priceless). Gibbs applied for the sixth season based on the fact that he missed his true freshman season with an injury and his transfer season for a different injury. Next season will give him a full fourth year of action, and with teammate Doug McDermott’s return in lieu of heading to the NBA Draft, the Bluejays again look like a serious contender on the conference and national levels next season. And as for where the scholarship for next year will come from? Doug’s dad, of course. Head coach Greg McDermott will pony up the $38,000 tuition plus expenses for his future millionaire son next season, surely a small price to pay for a team with a reasonable shot at crashing the Final Four party in Arlington next April.
  3. One of the former Big East and new ACC schools (confused yet?), Syracuse, put one more piece of the Bernie Fine saga to bed yesterday with the news that the former Orange assistant was dropping his defamation suit against ESPN. You recall that Fine was investigated but never charged by federal authorities in response to allegations that he molested two former ball boys some time ago. He was fired regardless, and later brought suit against ESPN for airing the allegations that included a secret tape made of his wife, Laurie Fine, discussing the allegations with an accuser a decade ago. His wife still has a defamation suit pending over the release of that tape. ESPN says that no settlement was reached, so the elephant in the room question is why would Fine — who has maintained his innocence throughout — drop the case? The only reasonable explanation is that it simply wasn’t winnable on the merits, and in fact, could expose him to further embarrassment and/or damage to his reputation, right?
  4. This is an odd story, but let’s not make a federal case of it. The FAA is apparently investigating the practice of leasing the state of Michigan’s four passenger jets to Michigan State’s head football and basketball coaches for the purpose of recruiting visits. Of course, that means Spartan head coach Tom Izzo and his 55 recruiting trips in the last five years are also under scrutiny. The current reports are unclear on what the organization is looking for, specifically, but “it is known that the billing documents and receipts for many of these trips are being sought-out by investigators to determine whether the use of the planes violated any laws or incurs any cost to the common taxpayer.” MSU, like many major players in the college athletics world, pays for such costs from a self-sufficient fund separate from taxpayer dollars, so we’re not really sure what the objective is here. But it’s worth following at this point.
  5. This came out last week, but as we’re heading into the heart of the summer recruiting circuit, it’s worth mentioning here now. The Rivals150 recruiting rankings for the Class of 2014 have been updated, and Chicago center Jahlil Okafor remains at the top of the list. He and Rivals’ #2 prospect, Minneapolis’ Tyus Jones, are allegedly looking to become a package deal, which would make one of the group of  Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Michigan State or Ohio State very, very happy. It appears to be a very strong year for the Midwest, with six of the top 11 players in the nation playing in the Big Ten footprint. For the complete list, check it out here.
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Morning Five: 06.12.13 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on June 12th, 2013

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  1. As you probably already noticed yesterday was APR Day, the day that college administrators dread and one that spawns countless columns about inequities in the system. There were no major surprises in terms of which teams were ineligible and the biggest news of the day was probably the fact that Connecticut is eligible for the NCAA Tournament again despite having a four-year APR below 930 as they showed enough improvement that they were still able to qualify. The more interesting aspect of APR Day is that it led to several interesting articles such as those by Andy Glockner and Myron Medcalf that speak to issues beyond just educating/graduating athletes and are reflective of education in this country.
  2. The decisions on where conferences decide to play their conference tournament games has never been of particular interest to us since they are typically played at a neutral site and are based on purely financial reasons. Having said that the decision by the American Athletic Conference to play its first conference tournament in Memphis is an interesting one as it will essentially give Memphis a homecourt advantage with an automatic NCAA Tournament bid on the line. Typically conferences of the expected power of the AAC avoid playing at a non-neutral location for a variety of reasons including the benefit given to a team that is playing at home. It will be interesting to see where the conference decides to put its postseason tournament going forward if schools feel that Memphis is granted an unfair advantage.
  3. Yesterday we linked to an article about increasingly onerous transfer restrictions on players. We did not mention it specifically in our post, but as the article we linked to mentions players are able to get around this by opting not to tak e a scholarship at their new school. It happens infrequently, but in the case of a player like Kevin Olekaibe sometimes the circumstances are severe enough that the player is willing to pay his own way. In Olekaibe’s case the rising senior announced that he was transferring from Fresno State to UNLV even though he was not allowed to transfer within the Mountain West Conference if he accepted a scholarship. Olekaibe’s reason for transferring and hoping for a transfer waiver that would allow him to play right away is that he wants to be closer to his father who is paralyzed from the waist down and is unable to speak because of two strokes that he has had. The way that transfer waivers have been granted lately we would be surprised if the NCAA turned his request down.
  4. In the wake of San Antonio’s win over Miami last night, Seth Wickersham’s article on the Spurs success being a condemnation on the state of grassroots basketball in America will probably become a bigger talking point. While we can agree that American basketball has many issues to improve on (the outsized influence of certain individuals at the AAU level being one of the most prominent) it is worth noting that the US continues to be far and away the most prolific country in the world in terms of producing basketball talent and that goes beyond just the national teams we send out every year. The gap between the depth of our talent and that of other countries is probably more significant than you might appreciate from watching international competition. Another key point that the article conveniently glosses over is that Spurs star Tim Duncan is actually a product of the American basketball system that the article criticizes as he played four years of college.
  5. We are not sure if the Bernie Fine case will ever end. The former Syracuse assistant coach’s defamation lawsuit against ESPN is heading to federal court now and it appears that Fine and his lawyers are targeting the corporation at this time and no longer pursuing charges against the reporters involved in reporting the story. As anybody who has followed the case over the past two years knows the entire case has been extremely messy and Fine’s accusers have been questionable at best in terms of the reliability and consistency of their statements. At this point we imagine that Syracuse views this case the same way that many media members do in that we just wish it would end.
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Big East M5: 02.15.13 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on February 15th, 2013

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  1. As expected, more details have emerged in the Jim Boeheim-Andy Katz “feud”, which came to a head last night when Boeheim called Katz an idiot and refused to answer his questions at the presser that followed Syracuse’s loss at Connecticut.  What was originally assumed by many to be an issue with Katz sharing some information about James Southerland’s academic issues now seems to be more about last year’s Bernie Fine fiasco.  Let’s hear from Boeheim: ”It’s really simple. I went to New York last year to play in the (NIT Pre-Season Tip-Off) Tournament in November and he (Katz) asked if he could interview me about the tournament. And I said, ‘Yeah, but I can’t talk about the (Bernie Fine) investigation.’ We got in the room and he put me on camera — there were several witnesses there — and he asked me what I’d told him I couldn’t answer. I kept telling him, ‘I can’t answer that.’ And he asked me, like, 10 times on camera. He never took the camera off me. Two or three people in the room were so disgusted they walked out of the room. The producer came over and apologized afterward. And I told Katz right then and there, ‘Don’t talk to me. Do not try to talk to me again.’” Katz issued a response following the Syracuse.com article: “There was no deal. I don’t cut deals. He might have thought there was a deal, but I have never, ever made a deal… The reason I did that is because with guys like Jim Boeheim, John Calipari, Jim Calhoun they’ll, say there’s a certain subject they don’t want to talk about and then they’ll talk about it. If I asked it one too many times, fine, criticize me. I was just trying to see if he’d answer the question.”
  2. On the brighter side for Syracuse fans… err, maybe not so much after Wednesday night in Hartford… Michael Carter-Williams continues to grab headlines for his play.  Mike DeCourcy of  Sporting News went into depth with MCW about his high-risk, high-reward play this season, and how his scant playing time last season has helped in his maturation process.  Carter-Williams, like Dion Waiters before him, is a fiery competitor, and is has gotten the best of him in games before, including one instance last season when he snapped at Jim Boeheim after being taken out of a game: “Definitely, there were a couple of times when it got the better of me and I lashed out at Coach. Those were mistakes I made. Coach told me if I wasn’t yelling at him, he wouldn’t know what to expect from me. I was a McDonald’s All-American and I wasn’t playing … he knew I wanted to be out there.”  Carter-Williams’ play has been up and down this Big East season, but few deny his talent, and the fact that if Syracuse has a chance at making a final four run this season, it will be in large part due to MCW’s play.
  3.  College basketball is wide open this season, and the Big East is no different. It seems like half of the league is still in contention for the conference crown, and no one knows what will happen once the Big East tournament kicks off at Madison Square Garden. UConn was never supposed to be in the discussion this season.  After being handed a full post-season ban due to APR issues, and losing a number of talented players from their NCAA tournament team last season, UConn was largely an afterthought in the league.  However, with the win over Syracuse, the Huskies sit just a game out of first place in the conference, and the team may be especially dangerous, as a regular season Big East title is all that they can play for this year.
  4. Cincinnati’s offensive woes have been well-documented, especially since Cashmere Wright’s injury in January.  Sean Kilpatrick has been a one man show for the Bearcats, and that hasn’t been a winning formula.  In their recent win over Villanova, Cincinnati was able to find offense from another sourceJaQuon Parker.  Parker averages 10.9 points per game for Cincy, but had been in a bit of a scoring drought before breaking out with 19 points against the Wildcats.  The significance of his contribution was not lost on Mick Cronin: “He’s got to stay aggressive and I’ve got to help him with that. Put him in situations to where he can be aggressive and he’s thinking offense.  He’s thinking attack. For us to win, he’s got to play that way. For us to be a high-level team, he’s got to be a double-figure guy.”
  5. The ballad of Todd Mayo at Marquette has hit frequent rough notes, but he is a rare talent that could become a major asset for Buzz Williams’ squad if kept in check.  Mayo spent the early part of this season on academic suspension, and he has had his playing time cut at points since his return for what many expect is disciplinary reasons.  When Mayo does suit up, he is a dangerous offensive weapon, averaging over 17.5 points per 40 minutes played.  The trouble is, for every double digit game he tallies, he only plays five minutes in another.  There are rumblings that Mayo may not be long for Marquette, but while he is still on the team, they can certainly use him in their race for the top of the Big East.
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TV Show Recap: “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things”

Posted by mlemaire on February 14th, 2013

Last night was the latest episode of one of my favorite reality TV shows, right up there with “Rick Pitino Making Jokes,” the always popular and unpredictable show, “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things.” You thought 24 seasons of  The Simpsons was a lot, well “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things” is now in its 37th season and amazingly it still does not lack for high-quality original content. I am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t truly understand the appeal of the show until around 2008 when the show aired the now-infamous episode in which Boeheim casually beat the ever-loving crap out of a malfunctioning microphone following a win against Long Beach State. After that I was hooked.

The show can make you laugh like the episode with the microphone, or it can make you cringe, like last season’s episode in which some felt Boeheim should have lost his job for insinuating that two men who had accused one of his assistant coaches of molesting them were only looking for money. Plenty have kept wondering whether the show will ever go off the air, but if this season, one which I have been watching devotedly, is any indication, “Jim Boeheim In Front Of A Microphone Saying Things” still has plenty of gas left in the tank. This season got off to a slow start as the Orange won a lot and didn’t encounter much adversity, but it started to pick up in December when the 900th career coaching victory episode took a surprise twist and ended with Boeheim publicly airing his unsolicited stance on gun control, and who could forget last week’s laugher when our ever-so-candid protagonist explained that he doesn’t read things on the Internet because he doesn’t “want to throw up everyday.”

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Big East M5: 12.03.12 Edition

Posted by Dan Lyons on December 3rd, 2012

  1. While conference realignment has been almost entirely football-centric, there are also major ramifications for the Big East‘s non-football playing schools as well.  Washington Post‘s Liz Clarke spoke with Jay Bilas, Bill Raftery, and Jim Boeheim about the future of the Big East and the direction that the basketball schools should take. Jay Bilas described schools like UCF, Memphis, and Tulane as not passing “the straight-face test” while Raftery and Boeheim think that the schools should move forward with the new additions and make the best of it, saying that the conference still has accomplished programs and could be viable going forward.
  2. While Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng garnered most of the preseason accolades for Louisville, Rick Pitino has gotten irreplaceable performances from players who almost didn’t make it with the program. At different times, Pitino told both Russ Smith and Stephan Van Treese that they may have been better off to go to other schools where they could see ample playing time. However, both stayed, and Smith seems to be having a break out season, while Van Treese has been filling in admirably for the injured Dieng. In the Cardinals’ close 69-66 edging of Illinois State over the weekend, Smith and Van Treese led the team in minutes.
  3. Cincinnati helped contribute to the Big East’s drubbing of the SEC in this year’s SEC/Big East challenge with a win over Alabama Saturday, but the Bearcats still aren’t content with where they are as a team this season. Cashmere Wright was able to cash in on a buzzer-beating jumper to defeat the Tide, but Mick Cronin found plenty to work on in the win: “Obviously, we’ve got a lot of areas we’ve got to improve… Offensively we have to get more ball movement, more assists, get more touches on the ball. We stand around too much They did a good job keeping us off the break.Once again we get a 13-point lead and start looking around instead of continue with the pace of play that we want to play at for 40 minutes.”
  4. Just when we think we’re done with the Bernie Fine case, something pulls us back in. This week, Syracuse police chief Frank Fowler stated that he believes that the first two Fine accusers — Bobby Davis and Mike Lang — are credible, as well as the fourth accuser, Floyd Van Hooser, who had last publicly recanted his accusations against the former assistant coach. The last bit of Fine news had come a few weeks ago, when the federal investigation of him had closed without any charges or arrests. With so many variables and chapters in this case, it is unlikely that we will ever have full closure, especially with the passing of the statute of limitations at the state level.
  5. The Providence Friars may be the walking wounded these days, but that didn’t prevent them from getting in on the Big East win party this weekend. The Friars came out on top against Mississippi State, 73-63, at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Saturday, and currently own a 6-2 record. The Friars entered the game with two injured players – freshman standout Kris Dunn and star senior Vincent Council – and lost point guard Bryce Cotton late in the first half.  Using only six players in the second half, the Friars played effective defense and were able to hold the Bulldogs to 35.9% shooting from the floor and just 2-22 from three-point range. Junior forward Kadeem Batts paced Providence with a career high 32 points in the win.
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Morning Five: 12.03.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on December 3rd, 2012

  1. The news that dominated the college basketball world over the weekend was the death of longtime coach Rick Majerus. There are plenty of anecdotes and pieces remembering Majerus from some of the people who covered him for years. Here are a collection of some of the best ones we found from over the weekend: Andy Glockner on the loss that those who love basketball are feeling; Andy Katz on appreciating the good and the bad; Bernie Miklasz on the kindness of Majerus: Dana O’Neil on Majerus doing it his way; Doug Gottlieb on Majerus’ complex personality; Gary Parrish on Majerus’ final press conference; Gene Wojnarowski on the genius and complexity of Majerus; Jeff Goodman on “a basketball lifer”; Matt Norlander with a collection of stats, quotes, and anecdotes about Majerus; Mike DeCourcy on the impact Majerus had on others; S.L. Price from a 2008 article delving into the sometimes rough side of Majerus; and Seth Davis on “a jovial, sad, complex man”. If you have any other additional interesting takes on one of the most interesting personalities in college sports over the last couple of decades, leave them in the comment section.
  2. We usually don’t like to blame the actions of college students on a coach or the administration, but when you have the issues that Hofstra has had recently you start wanting to ask questions. On Friday, four players on the team (sophomore Shaquille Stokes and freshmen Jimmy HallDallas Anglin, and Kentrell Washington) pleaded not guilty to their involvement in a series of six burglaries between October 4 and November 5. While this could be seen as an isolated series of incidents, these events come after the team already had two players miss the first two games of the season due to violation of unspecified team rules. We aren’t saying that it is head coach Mo Cassara’s or Hofstra’s fault that these serious accusations are flying around, but somebody within the institution needs to step up and get things under control there.
  3. Years ago we used to wonder if a player would be headed to college or would bypass it completely to enter the NBA Draft. With the NBA’s one-year rule in place we don’t have that discussion any more, but in the case of elite class of 2013 recruit Jabari Parker we are awaiting a similar major decision — whether he would go to college next season or begin his two-year Mormon mission. On a local ESPN radio show Parker announced on Friday that he would be going to college before going on his Mormon mission. While this may seem like a no-brainer to most people there have been plenty of prominent Mormon athletes (including basketball players) who took time off during college to complete their mission. We are not sure if Parker will delay some part of his basketball career to do so himself, but we certainly would not rule it out.
  4. We came across an article that appeared in The New York Times last week discussing whether a college diploma was as important as people claim it is. We found the argument intriguing and think that it relates a little to the issues regarding basketball players attending school to pursue their professional dreams. Obviously there are some significant differences here, primarily that graduation rates are focused more on the athletes who are not going to have professional sports careers where they make enough money to last their family for several lifetimes. For us the more important connection here is for individuals who are talented enough to pursue lucrative careers without the safety net of having a college degree. There are some important differences (namely the fact that athletes aren’t saddled with significant college tuition debt), but it is an interesting discussion whether you consider it from a traditional student’s perspective or from that of a student-athlete.
  5. Federal officials may have dropped the Bernie Fine case, but local authorities do not appear to be convinced of his innocence as Onondaga County DA believes that some of his accusers are “highly credible.” This flies in the face of actions made by federal prosecutors a few weeks ago in closing the case investigating Fine, citing insufficient evidence to bring charges against the longtime Orange assistant coach. What does this all mean? Not much, as the statute of limitations on the DA bringing charges against Fine has already passed, but maybe in some strange way these statements serve to validate the accusers who came forward and encourage those who are silent in similar situations to realize that sharing their story can be worthwhile.
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Big East M5: 10.12.12 Edition

Posted by mlemaire on October 12th, 2012

  1. The Sports Business Journal gathered a small group of sports media consultants to predict which networks will win some of the upcoming television rights battles, and wouldn’t you know it, but the Big East deal was first on the table. And the consensus is… that no one agrees on how this deal is going to shake out, who is going to win, or if multiple networks win and just share the rights. At this point I think it is safe to say that everyone should just stop speculating because everyone admits it could go in a number of different directions.
  2. So apparently it has been 50 years since Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim first stepped on the upstate New York campus as a freshman and this season will be Boeheim’s 37th at the helm of the Orange program. I guess it shouldn’t be surprising given how long Boeheim has been a larger-than-life presence in the conference, but it is still quite an incredible example of perseverance, sustained success, and school loyalty. There is a lot of talent left over from last season’s impressive squad, but it will be a transition year on and off the court for the Orange as they lost four key contributors, a longtime assistant coach in Bernie Fine, and are preparing to move to the ACC next season. As if there wasn’t enough on Boeheim’s plate, he is already fielding questions about when he will retire and he even admitted he will probably leave “sooner rather than later.” The man has a lot on his plate, but until he actually leaves, we won’t complain, because even if you don’t like Syracuse basketball you have to admit that the sport is more fun with Boeheim a part of it.
  3. If there was ever any doubt that recruits are interested in what St. John’s coach Steve Lavin has to say, then take a look at the list of recruits scheduled to attend the Red Storm’s Midnight Madness event that will kick off tonight. There are 14 players on that list, from 2013 star Jermaine Lawrence to 135-pound Tremont Waters representing the class of 2017. It shouldn’t need to be said that showing up to a Midnight Madness event and committing to that school are two entirely two different things, but just the amount of interest that Lavin has been able to generate in such a short period of time — while battling cancer — is incredibly impressive. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lavin lands a stud recruit from the Tri-State area in the very near future.
  4. You knew an article like this one was coming. Cincinnati enters the season with very high expectations, so it’s only natural that local reporters are going to write the old “expectations are high, but the team is staying grounded” article. We don’t mean to be insulting, because it is an worthwhile article to publish, especially when it’s true. With the exception of maybe Louisville, there is no team in the conference with more expectations on their shoulders than the Bearcats. Syracuse will be good but they are young; Notre Dame will be good but they are young also. Cincinnati has a blend of excellent veterans and promising newcomers, and everybody from pundits to local fans is expecting a repeat of last season’s success at the least. It sounds like coach Mick Cronin has done a good job of keeping his players focused, but it will be interesting to see what happens if the Bearcats stumble once or twice in the non-conference slate like they did last season.
  5. It is hard not to root for Notre Dame big man Jack Cooley given that he looks so out of place among the athletic specimens that populate the frontcourt of conference foes. Last season Cooley came out of nowhere to earn second-team All-Big East honors and develop into a consistent offensive and rebounding force in the paint. This season he isn’t going to sneak up on anyone and he has also been given some additional leadership responsibilities on his young team, and he has responded well to the added duties. From the quotes from his teammates and coach in the article, it seems like Cooley has transformed himself from an afterthought to essential presence over the past two years and now he is poised to lead the Fighting Irish to one of their better seasons ever.
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Big East Summer Capsules: Syracuse Orange

Posted by mlemaire on July 19th, 2012

While most relish the onset of Summer, college basketball junkies do not. Most of the news surrounding the sport is recruiting rumors and commitments or injuries and transfer news. In order to help keep folks up-to-date on what their teams are doing during the summer, we put together these summer capsules for each team in the conference. Next up is Syracuse.

1. Now we know, this season will be the program’s last hurrah in the Big East.

Most knew this was coming, but now it is official. The Orange will bolt for the ACC in July 2013 after reaching an agreement with the Big East, and they will be taking one of the conference’s most storied basketball programs with it. I don’t care how you slice it; this is bad news for people who enjoy Big East basketball. The ‘Cuse was a perennially elite team, and no matter who the conference tries to woo to replace the Orange, they won’t be able to fill those shoes. There are a whole slew of rivalries that will be cast aside, and Jim Boeheim, one of the game’s all-time great talkers, will be taking his sarcastic wit to slightly warmer climates. The Orange are going to continue to be one’s of the game’s best programs on a yearly basis, but for those of us who grew up on John Wallace, Etan Thomas, and Gerry McNamara, the move is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

2. The coaching staff goes national.

For yet another summer, Jim Boeheim will be lending a hand to USA Basketball.

At this point everyone who cares knows that Jim Boeheim has been an assistant to Mike Krzyzewski on the Olympic team for some time now. But some may not have realized that assistant coach Mike Hopkins will also be coaching for the country, as he is the co-head coach of the National Select Team and both coaches have said they expect to learn a lot from the experience. Boeheim has also admitted that their absence puts a stress on recruiting, although he downplayed its impact. This will be the first year that Boeheim has coached for Team USA in July, which is usually the summer month when he does the most recruiting. Still, the Orange also haven’t exactly been on the downswing when it comes to signing talent in recent years, so Syracuse fans should probably take this as a positive.

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Bernie Fine Case Takes Another Strange Turn…

Posted by EJacoby on June 12th, 2012

Nothing has come easy for investigators in the child molestation case against former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine, in which former ball boy Bobby Davis accused the coach of sexual wrongdoing. It’s been a back-and-forth of accusations and denials from everyone involved in the story since it broke public last November. The most fascinating detail about the case remains that the university knew about Davis’ accusations against the coach as far back as 2004, and yet Fine remained on staff in his top assistant position to head coach Jim Boeheim until the public fiasco in 2011. 

The Orange still thrived last season amidst the off-court school scandal involving assistant coach Fine (AP Photo/M. Dwyer)

On Monday a new twist surfaced, as the Syracuse Post-Standard reported on a 2005 university investigation that found no witnesses at the time believed the accuser’s claims. Seven key members of Davis’ story were interviewed by SU, and not a single one confirmed the accusations. But it gets even more odd, as the accuser provides information of his own that the school didn’t seem to properly investigate. Davis reportedly called Fine to apologize (about what?) in 2005, according to the Post-Standard‘s knowledge of the secret report. The investigation has not been released, but more and more contradicting details continue to come out that could prolong this case.

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Morning Five: 05.17.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on May 17th, 2012

  1. Keep moving along. Nothing to see here. That was the stance of ACC commissioner John Swofford on Wednesday in reference to the earth-rumblings regarding Florida State’s rather public dalliance with the Big 12. Taking part in the ACC spring meetings in Amelia Island, Florida, this week, Swofford said that he had spoken with FSU president Eric Barron there and had enjoyed several “positive” conversations which clearly leads him to believe that the Tallahassee school is sticking around. Public statements from officials in positions of power are virtually meaningless these days — especially when it comes to this topic — but we really don’t see Florida State leaving the ACC for a few million dollars when they’d be ceding so much of their existing power to Texas as a result.
  2. Better late than never, but the NCAA announced yesterday that Washington, DC, would become the site of the 2013 East Regional during next year’s NCAA Tournament. Usually the regionals are well settled at this point in time, but reports suggest that the NCAA ran into contractual issues trying to lock up Madison Square Garden (or another NYC-area site) for next year’s tournament. The Verizon Center in downtown DC has served as an NCAA Tournament site several times in the previous decade, and its convenient location built on top of a Metro station makes getting to and from the venue a snap. The other three regional sites in 2013, which have been settled for some time now, are the Staples Center in Los Angeles (West), Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (South), and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis (Midwest). Where are you headed?
  3. How much is an elite college basketball head coach worth? USA Today reported on Wednesday that Duke legend Mike Krzyzewski was paid $7.2 million by the university for his work in the calendar year 2010. According to their research, Coach K’s total compensation that year represents the second-highest total by a head coach (basketball or football) since the publication started tracking the figures in 2006 (Rick Pitino earned $8.9 million in 2010-11). K’s total in 2010, where he no doubt met a number of incentives for winning the national championship, blew his $2.0 million base salary up to nearly four times that amount. When you add in Krzyzewski’s corporate sponsorships to that total, you begin to see that the Duke head coach is competitive with some of the sport’s best-paid athletes in terms of compensation.
  4. While on the subject of Krzyzewski, he announced earlier this week that this summer’s Olympic Games in London would be his last as the head coach of Team USA. There’s no question that Coach K has accomplished a couple of important things as the CEO of the men’s national team. First and foremost, he used his otherworldly player management and motivational skills to encourage (at the time) very young players like LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Paul to play together and win a gold medal as a selfless unit (both in the Beijing Olympics and the 2010 World Championships). This was no easy task, as the 2008 Redeem Team earned its name after the disastrous bronze medal performance in Athens from the 2004 team. The second thing he was able to do was to satisfy his appetite for coaching the very best players in the world, something that he had flirted with a couple of times previously. This allowed him to stay in his rightful place in college basketball at Duke where he belongs, rather than moving to the NBA for a certainly less-fulfilling experience. Gregg Doyel writes that Coach K was able to do something that not even NCAA/NBA champion Larry Brown could do — keep world-class professional athletes hungry and motivated — and he questions whether the next guy is likely to do the same in 2016.
  5. Former Syracuse assistant coach Bernie Fine’s wife, Laurie Fine, announced at a press conference on Wednesday that she will sue ESPN for libel based on the organization’s reporting that (she claims) made her appear as a monster who allowed her husband to molest children. Fine said during the presser that her life has been “ruined” by these allegations to the point where she can no longer go out in public anywhere in central New York. ESPN came out with a response immediately afterward stating that they stand by their reporting. One of the interesting questions that will help define the course of this claim is whether Fine is considered a “public” personality as the wife of the former SU assistant coach. Public figures face a much more difficult threshold to prove libelous claims against them, whereas private figures stand a much better chance. We won’t speculate on how this case might turn out, but the validity of her entire claim may turn on that argument.
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Yahoo! Report Raises Questions At Syracuse

Posted by mlemaire on March 6th, 2012

Still reeling from the Bernie Fine scandal that threatened to rock the program earlier in the season and on the eve of the Big East Tournament, the investigative team at Yahoo! Sports dropped this bombshell on the Syracuse basketball program Monday and their off-the-court issues went from bad to worse. A three-month investigation into the Orange basketball program turned up four anonymous sources close to the team who revealed that, since 2001,  at least 10 basketball players tested positive for banned recreational substances and all of those players were still allowed to practice and play when they should have been ineligible.

It took only two hours for Syracuse to issue a statement in response to the report, which reads:

We self-reported issues with drug testing to the NCAA, and there is currently an ongoing inquiry. The inquiry does not involve any current SU student-athletes. To ensure the integrity of the ongoing process, we are unable to comment further at this time.

The NCAA quickly confirmed the report and said the university “appropriately” self-reported the violations and that their investigation is still ongoing.

One More Headache For Jim Boeheim

At first glance, it appears these allegations will have almost no impact on the current Orange, who are the #2 team in the country and the odds-on favorite to win the Big East Tournament that starts today in New York City. Syracuse already said that the investigation doesn’t involve any of their current players, and although it does seem like an unfortunately timed distraction for the Orange, they have already dealt with plenty of distractions this season and handled them admirably. If  the current players can learn that one of their most-trusted assistant coaches has been accused of sexual abuse and still win 30 games, then they can also cope with reported drug policy violations that none of them were involved in.

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Morning Five: 02.23.12 Edition

Posted by nvr1983 on February 23rd, 2012


SPONSORED: Rush the Court is pleased to bring you a one-day fantasy college basketball league courtesy of Draftstreet.com. The league, which is completely free to enter, will play tonight (February 23) involving several high-profile teams — Duke, Alabama, Arizona, Louisville, California, Wisconsin, and more. Test your college hoops knowledge to win prizes! Click here to enter.

  1. It looks like we will not be seeing Jim Calhoun when Connecticut plays Syracuse on Saturday as he has opted to undergo an undisclosed surgical procedure on Monday, which means that he will at least be out until after the team’s game the following day. Calhoun, who has been out since February 3, consulted a number of specialists getting opinions from many of the most well-known institutions before deciding to go with surgical management rather than more conservative medical management. We are not sure what procedure Calhoun is undergoing, but it does not appear to be a promising sign for his return that medical management did not appear to be working and that he waited almost three weeks to decide on having the surgical procedure.
  2. Luke Winn stepped outside of his usual statistical analysis to continue the tradition started by SI colleague Grant Wahl, who left to cover soccer, and bequeathed the infamous Magic 8 to Winn (see our analysis of Wahl’s earlier work). In this year’s edition, Winn lists five teams that you would expect, but also three teams that most would consider solid Sweet Sixteen teams, but are not usually included in discussion of potential national champions. Winn also discusses a few teams that were omitted that might raise some eyebrows. Unlike his predecessor’s column, Winn appears to be more realistic with his approach although he admits to coming up short last season.
  3. Yesterday, a judge ruled that the Jim Boeheim slander trial will be held in Syracuse, which is a blow to the prosecution that claimed that his celebrity status in the area would hinder their case against him and Syracuse. As you probably remember the case stems from comments made by Boeheim made that Bernie Fine‘s accusers were essentially after money and there was no validity to their allegations that came soon after the Penn State scandal. In their request to move the case to New York City, the lawyers for the plaintiffs argued that not only would Boeheim’s status in and around Syracuse hurt their case (because people in the area were “obsessed” with basketball), but also because many potential witnesses live near New York City making it more convenient for them. None of those named in the lawsuit were present in court and neither Boeheim nor Syracuse issued a statement as of last night, but the lawyers for the accusers appear to be satisfied with the decision and do not plan to appeal.
  4. With the NCAA Tournament around the corner, one group of individuals that will be getting quite a bit of attention is the Division I Men’s Basketball Committee. Yesterday, the NCAA announced that it had selected two individuals to join that group for the next five years. Bernard Muir and Mike Hollis will begin their terms on September 1, 2012 and will replace Jeff Hathaway, who has been a somewhat controversial figure, and Jeff Hickey. While both Muir and Hollis are well-respected within the field neither of them are well-known to the public, which is probably a sign that they do a good job. We hope that they can work to continue to improve the sport and address some of the major issues facing the sport going forward.
  5. In this week’s mailbag, Seth Davis addresses criticism of coaches, cheating in recruiting in big cities, and readers taking issue with his RPI column. We will leave the last two alone and let you just read his comments because (1) we do not have much direct knowledge of recruiting and (2) we are getting sick of the RPI debate. The first point is a little more interesting to us. While we do agree with Seth’s take that fans are often too quick to “condemn coaches”, we also think that they are too quick to praise them for their success. Seth writes “Success and failure is about much, much more than the man on the sidelines” and appears to only use it to defend coaches, but outside of the extremes you can argue that much of what you see in a team’s record is due to its talent on the court not off of it. Now college sports may be more affected by the coach than professional sports due to the transient nature of the on-court talent and the coaches direct impact on recruiting that talent there, but if we are going to try to give coaches a pass when they fail to live up to expectations we should also temper our praise when they exceed those expectations.
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