Bobby Dibler, Pac-12 Officiating Coordinator, May We Never Hear From You Again

Posted by Adam Butler on October 18th, 2013

Adam Butler of Pachoops.com (@pachoopsab) joins us as a guest columnist for the second straight year. He took in the Pac-12 Media Day on Thursday.

He took to the stage rather unassumingly and consequently didn’t look too many people directly in the eye. I don’t believe it was out of discourtesy so much as what appeared to be an effort to answer the question to the room. And beyond. After all, Bobby Dibler has a lot to answer. He enters his tenure as the Pac-12’s Officiating Coordinator in the wake of one of the more bizarre, if not controversial, stripes situations of recent memory. But as Dibler sees it, that is in the past. He didn’t spend much time on the matter and, as he puts it, “I’m a guy that lives life going forward.” And so forward we will go; with 28 rules changes and a brand new officiating crew. A “cutting edge” alliance as Larry Scott would have us see it – consistent with the mission of a cutting edge conference.

Pac-12 Basketball Officials Had Their Day In the Spotlight on Thursday; May They Never Have Another One (USATSI)

Pac-12 Basketball Officials Had Their Day In the Spotlight on Thursday; May They Never Have Another One (USATSI)

Because when the most glaring sight into your conference isn’t surrounding tournament seeds, but rather the striped gentlemen and trips to Cancun, you have an issue. It was the first question asked. This was likely Bobby Dibler’s most public appearance and should be his last. I don’t want to see him address the media again. You don’t want to see him address the media again. He doesn’t want to address the media again. Those sentiments combined and the feeling is, with the proposed officiating improvements, we can move forward with an agenda where referees are neither seen nor heard; their prescribed place and their preferred place. Yet today Dibler was heard and I appreciated the way he handled it. He repeatedly called this “our game.” He said, “Anyone that intrudes on the integrity of our game… it bothers me.” Last spring’s goings-on bugged Dibler and he’s here to fix it. How?

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Morning Five: 07.18.13 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on July 18th, 2013

morning5

  1. On Wednesday ESPN finished its two-day unveiling of brackets for the 11 holiday season events that it more or less controls through its television rights, and the possibilities, as usual, are endless. For a comprehensive listing of those events along with the top storylines as they stand right now in the middle of July, here’s the thread. Be sure to remember that Jeff Goodman picked Boise State over Oregon State in the Diamond Head Classic so that you can mock him on Twitter in late December… but seriously, does anyone else find it more than a little odd that these brackets are released during the time of year when you couldn’t find more people who care less? Why not make this a part of the Midnight Madness/ESPN festivities in October — you know, when fans are actually paying attention to college basketball again. For what it’s worth, Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger and Andy Glockner at SI.com have pretty good rundowns of the events if ESPN.com’s marketing campaign isn’t to your liking. From our perspective, here’s what you need to know: North Carolina vs. Louisville (Hall of Fame Tip-off) and Arizona vs. Duke (Preseason NIT). Done.
  2. While we’re on the subject of ESPN, the post-MLB All-Star Game hole in the calendar provides us with our annual opportunity to over-dramatize the strange mixture of sports and celebrity at the ESPYs. College basketball was once again well-represented, with two major awards among the few nominees. Louisville’s Rick Pitino received the ESPY for top coach/manager of the year, while everybody’s favorite underdog, Florida Gulf Coast, won the ESPY for the best upset of the year (over Georgetown). The full list is here, but the only other college basketball nominee was Trey Burke for best male college athlete (won by Johnny Manziel). Still, we’re more than willing to take a smidgen of credit for the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, given this year to former Sportscenter anchor and Dickie V/Midnight Madness sidekick, Robin Roberts.
  3. We mentioned Seth Davis’ piece on Michigan’s Mitch McGary in yesterday’s M5, and clearly university brass must have also read about his head coach John Beilein‘s prescience in keeping the burly freshman on the bench as a secret postseason weapon last year. Why do we say this? Because on Wednesday Michigan rewarded the 60-year old coach with a three-year extension that will bump his salary up to $2.45 million per year, ninth-highest in the nation. The sometimes-irascible but always competent Beilein has come a long way in his itinerant career, but with another top 10 squad pending in Ann Arbor and a growing NBA pipeline to entice recruits, we’re thinking that he not only deserves the raise, but is well worth it.
  4. The Pac-12 under Larry Scott’s leadership in the last few seasons has certainly been innovative in its approach to its branding and reach, and yesterday’s CBSSports.com report that the league recently sent a letter to the NCAA challenging the admission of Division II Grand Valley (AZ) State to play D-I basketball is certainly interesting. On one hand, why does the Pac-12 care about a low-budget for-profit school with some 40,000 to 45,000 online students? On the other, the business model and corresponding accountability for a school answering to public shareholders on financial matters is in fact a much different situation than that posed by a typical college or university (which are all non-profit entities in Division I). It’ll be interesting to see how the NCAA responds to this, and whether other leagues and/or universities get involved. Grand Valley has already begun transition to Division I, entering the WAC as a basketball school and becoming eligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2017-18.
  5. Some transfer/eligibility news from yesterday to finish off today’s M5. Former Kentucky problem child Ryan Harrow has received a transfer waiver from the NCAA to play at Georgia State next season. This move will allow him to remain near his ailing father, who suffered a stroke last year while Harrow was at Kentucky, averaging 10 PPG and shooting 29.6 percent from beyond the arc. By the same token, Minnesota’s Malik Smith, a senior guard who averaged 14/3 APG last season at FIU under Richard Pitino, also received a waiver to play immediately at his new school. The NCAA approved his waiver to follow his coach in part because FIU is not eligible for the 2014 NCAA Tournament (APR violations). This will be Smith’s fourth school in four seasons.
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Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott Makes A Lot Of Money: Are You Surprised?

Posted by Chris Johnson on May 21st, 2013

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

Lavish contracts of conference commissioners and university presidents and whopping cable rights deals lie at the nexus of most any modern-day ethical and moral-based anti-amateurism rant. People see massive salary figures and television revenues, look the other way and see student-athletes making not a dime over what’s guaranteed from one-year, renewable, merit-based grant-in-aid scholarships, and wonder how anyone could ever allow such a system to take root. They get angry, and furiously shout denunciatory things at their computer and television screens (theoretically, anyways). They read updates about the impending Ed O’Bannon lawsuit, and how its sweeping implications have the potential to completely uproot the NCAA’s long-unimpeachable amateurism ruling model. They envision a future where collegiate athletes are granted what their physical talents and revenue-generating abilities rightly deserve – in an Olympic-style model where bylaw 785947.23 doesn’t exist and where the financial stakes aren’t so egregiously stacked against the very athletes who generate all this money in the first place. They see the injustice, and slowly, surely, more and more people are getting behind the idea that the popular clichés about “pure athletic joy” and “for the love of the game” are really nothing more than an ingenuously contrived shield against legitimate takedowns of a broken system.

Four years as leader of the nation's premier D1 West Coast athletic conference has earned Scott huge financial bonuses on top of an already sizable base salary (U.S. Presswire).

Four years as leader of the nation’s premier D1 West Coast athletic conference has earned Scott huge financial bonuses on top of an already sizable base salary (U.S. Presswire).

Some folks are still split on the idea of a new college sports world order, which probably means they didn’t really react much at all to Monday’s Wall Street Journal report that Pac-12 head Larry Scott is, according to recent tax documents, the richest conference commissioner in all of college sports. In the four years since taking over his current post, Scott has amplified the Pac-12’s financial value with such groundbreaking developments as the Pac-12 Network, a $3 billion broadcast rights deal with ESPN and FOX, the additions of Colorado and Utah and, to tie everything together, a convenient and numerically-pertinent branding tweak – goodbye Pac-10, hello Pac-12. For those moves, along with his typical everyday conference commissioner work – whatever that actually entails (I think we’d all love to know) – Scott’s total take in 2011-12 rounded off somewhere north of $3 million. Not far off was Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, who took home $2.8 million that same year. SEC commish Mike Slive barely made half of Scott’s number, totaling $1.6 million.

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Fire Ed Rush. Yesterday.

Posted by AMurawa on April 2nd, 2013

It may be the most important story to come out of the Pac-12 this season. More than any game that was played, more than any coach’s hiring or firing, more than the Shabazz Muhammad recruitment or eligibility saga. Because this story gets to the heart of athletics, of fairness, of a level playing field – a conference administrator, singling out a coach for rough treatment. The administrator in question is Ed Rush, former NBA referee and current Pac-12 head of officials, and the head coach in question is Arizona’s Sean Miller. Here’s the heart of the story, as reported by Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com:

Rush, according to a source within the Pac-12 officiating group, told a group of referees on the Thursday of the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas that he would give them $5,000 or a trip to Cancun if they either “rang him up” or “ran him,” meaning hit Miller with a technical or toss him out of the game. Rush then reiterated during a Friday morning meeting, according to one referee in attendance, that officials should take similar action against Miller if he did anything on Friday in the Pac-12 semifinals against UCLA.

That alone is bad enough. The fact that Miller did, in fact, get rung up on the Friday of that tournament, and the fact that Miller getting rung up potentially cost his team a win makes this story even worse. But what comes next, the response from Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott, makes this whole thing despicable. Because Scott wrote the whole thing off as a laugh, trying to sweep it under the rug as an inside joke. Here’s Scott’s statement:

After Earning A Lot Of Fans Around The Conference, Commissioner Larry Scott Made His First Major Mistake In His Handling Of The Ed Rush Story

After Earning A Lot Of Fans Around The Conference, Commissioner Larry Scott Made His First Major Mistake In His Handling Of The Ed Rush Story

Based on the review, we have concluded that while Rush made inappropriate comments that he now regrets during internal meetings that referenced rewards, he made the comments in jest and the officials in the room realized they were not serious offers. Following our review, we have discussed the matter with Rush, taken steps to ensure it does not happen again, and communicated our findings to all of our officials.

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Marching to Vegas: With The Pac-12 Networks Leading The Way

Posted by AMurawa on December 28th, 2012

From the moment it was first rumored, the relocation of the conference tournament to Las Vegas has created quite a buzz among Pac-12 basketball fans. Adam Butler (@pachoopsAB) of PacHoops will be here every week as he offers his unique perspective along our March to Vegas.

Were you to Google the name Larry Scott, you’d find numerous results – and a quick bio of the 1960s body builder. This naturally makes sense as Larry Scott the athletic administrator has been doing some heavy lifting on behalf of fans of his conference. It began with aspirations of a 16-team mega-conference that never came to be. Whether you’re for, against, or ready to just hand realignment over to Bane, Scott’s foresight was such that he got what he wanted: $20-plus million annually for each of his teams. And from where did he garner that payday? The Pac-12 Networks. This is the centerpiece of realignment and, again, whatever your stance on the subject is, the net result is exposure.

With Larry Scott Leading The Way, The Pac-12 Landed A Television Contract Approaching $3 Billion Over 12 Years

With Larry Scott Leading The Way, The Pac-12 Landed A Television Contract Approaching $3 Billion Over 12 Years

Based on surface research and anecdotal evidence, approximately two-to-three basketball games were blacked out each week last season. Before The Networks, I’ve watched experienced my beloved Wildcats in each of the following manners:

  • Outside of Arizona Stadium for an untelevised football game
  • Via radio broadcast in my apartment, just me and my buddy Johnny Black
  • On headphones in a Starbucks via the Idaho State radio broadcast

We don’t have to do that anymore. It’s been about four full months of Comcast Bay Area channel 823 and on such I’ve seen Sendek’s speedsters, Albany knock off Washington, UCLA squeak past in-state opposition, and Tad’s third season develop. It’s 2013 and the monopolization of broadcast television is swiftly dissolving. If I had the net savvy of the average Silicon Valley-ian (I live in the Bay Area) I’d be all over things like Hulu and its ilk. Alas, my 10,000 hours were dedicated to a fruitless baseball career so I need things like Larry Scott putting every game I’d like to see in my lap.

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Wrapping Up The Pac-12′s Summer Exhibition Tours

Posted by Connor Pelton on September 13th, 2012

Seven Pac-12 schools took a foreign exhibition trip this summer. We recap them below with Drew taking UCLA, Utah, and Colorado, and Connor taking the rest.

Not Every Team Went Tropical, But All of Them Learned Something

Arizona

  • Where: The Bahamas
  • When: August 11-13
  • What: The Wildcats swept their two games against Bahamian competition.
  • Why: As Arizona transitions from an NIT one-and-done to having at least NCAA Third Round expectations, this trip was all about integrating instant-impact newcomers Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, and Mark Lyons into the rotation. Setting lineups and seeing what groups of players meshed well together was much more important than the actual play against less than stellar competition.
  • Who: Lyons and fellow senior Kevin Parrom were the stars of the trip, each averaging 18.5 PPG. The most anticipated freshman to don the cardinal red and navy blue in a while, Tarczewski, scored eight points in each game on the trip. Arizona absolutely destroyed their lowly competition, winning both games by a combined 112 points.

Colorado

  • Where: France, Belgium and the Netherlands
  • When: August 11-22
  • What: The Buffaloes went 2-3 in five games against European professional teams.
  • Why: With CU breaking in six scholarship freshmen, the trip gave head coach Tad Boyle a chance to build camaraderie between the talented new guys and their six returnees from last year’s Pac-12 championship team. The trip also gave the freshmen a chance to build an identity of their own, evidenced by the fact that Boyle sat out the core returnees from last year’s squad – Andre Roberson, Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddie and Sabatino Chen – in one of the games, allowing five of the freshmen to start the game together.
  • Who: While Roberson was his usual magnificent self – he averaged 14.4 points and 13.8 rebounds – freshman Josh Scott eliminated any doubt that he could be an immediate impact player. Scott led the Buffs in scoring in four of the five games, coming up a point short of the leaders in the opening game; he averaged 17.4 point per game for the trip. His classmate Xavier Johnson also made a statement, averaging more than ten points to go with seven rebounds for the game.

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Pac-12 Morning Five: 05.25.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on May 25th, 2012

  1. Money was a big story in the Pac-12 this week. First and foremost, USA Today unveiled an estimate of the worth of the Pac-12 television deals this week. Navigate Research, a Chicago-based firm that has done multimedia rights valuations for other schools and conferences figures that all told, between the conference’s deals with ESPN and Fox and their ready-to-launch Pac-12 Network, each school in the conference should expect upwards of $30 million a year over the life of their 12-year agreement. About $21 million per school is guaranteed by the deal with ESPN and Fox, with the remainder of the total based on the success of the new conference networks. While the Big Ten Network generated $79.2 million worth of profit in 2011, they have to split those profits with Fox, their partner in that venture, while the Pac-12 will own their network outright.
  2. Based on that kind of income, it is easy to see why Larry Scott earned almost $1.9 million in salary and bonuses in his first full year as Pac-12 commissioner. That figure makes Scott the highest paid conference commissioner in the land and means that he earned more than three times the compensation of previous Pac-12 commissioner Tom Hansen in his final full year. Given the wonders that Scott has done with the Pac-12’s finances, image and future prospects, I would guess that most Pac-12 fans see this as money well spent for the conference.
  3. Former UCLA forward Reeves Nelson has hired a lawyer and intends to sue Sports Illustrated and writer George Dohrmann for $10 million, claiming the article published by the magazine in March was guilty of defamation, false light and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit claims that many of the stories in the article about Nelson were either false or drastically overstated. The lawsuit includes statements from 18 current or former players at UCLA that refute anecdotes in the article. For instance, former Bruin player Tyler Honeycutt states that the memorable tale of Nelson urinating on his clothes and bed was completely false, while recent UCLA graduate Tyler Trapani refutes the story about Nelson stepping on his chest during a practice drill. Bruin transfer and recent New Mexico big man Drew Gordon denies the claim that Nelson gave Gordon a black eye during a fight (and even denies ever having a fight with Nelson), while Alex Schrempf claims that the story that Nelson purposely in injured him by intentionally hacking him from behind is false as well. Seems like this is about the get very, very interesting as Dorhmann and SI attempt to defend themselves against this lawsuit.
  4. Washington State’s coaching staff is back at full strength again, as head coach Ken Bone hired Ray Lopes to take Jeff Hironaka’s spot on the bench. Hironaka was reassigned (read: demoted) to director of player development , and Lopes, who was most recently an assistant at Idaho, will fill his spot. Lopes is no stranger to Pullman, having coached under Kelvin Sampson on the Palouse in 1993-94, before following Sampson to Oklahoma before winding up as a head coach at Fresno State for a three-year stint. However, at both of those stops, Lopes ran afoul of the NCAA, first getting mixed up in the impermissible phone call saga with Sampson at Oklahoma, then continuing the practice in Fresno, eventually winding up with a three-year show-cause penalty for 457 impermissible phone calls while at Fresno State.
  5. Finally, after plenty of speculation that this would come to pass, Colorado redshirt sophomore point guard Shannon Sharpe will be transferring out of the program in order to play closer to his home in southern California. Sharpe’s career at Colorado goes down as a disappointment, after injuring his knee in his first practice with the Buffaloes. All told, he scored 99 points in just a hair over 600 minutes in his career in Boulder. He will have a year of eligibility remaining when he plays again at a lower-tier school (Big West schools like Cal State Fullerton or UC Irvine or perhaps Loyola Marymount or Pepperdine of the WCC would look like good landing spots where he could make an impact), although there is a possibility that he could apply for a waiver on having to sit out a year since both of his parents died of heart failure while he was in high school and he is returning home to take care of the family home.
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Pac-12 Weekly Five: 05.11.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on May 11th, 2012

  1. We’re at that time of the year when we the rosters start to solidify. Most of the key recruits have made their picks, and teams are beginning to add the finishing touches to their recruiting classes. For instance this week Washington State added junior college big man James Hunter, a guy who will have three seasons of eligibility in Pullman. Hunter is a raw work-in-progress, but he is a good athlete who runs the floor well and could be a good body for the Cougs in future years. Meawhile, Oregon got a commitment from combo guard Willie Moore, the sixth player signed by Dana Altman so far this season. Moore had originally committed to Duquesne, but was released from his letter of intent after the Dukes fired head coach Ron Everhart.
  2. The signing of Moore leaves the Ducks with just one remaining scholarship for the 2012-13 season, and they’re certainly hoping that they get good news about their seventh signee of the year in the coming days, as power forward Anthony Bennett, rated the seventh-best recruit in this class (by ESPNU) is expected to choose between Oregon and UNLV. Oregon is also still in the mix for Chris Obekpa, a center ranked in the top 100 recruits as well, meaning that Moore’s signing likely indicates that the Ducks have received word that they’re unlikely to land one or both of those players. And while some in the UO community seem pleased that the Ducks at least outlasted Kentucky and Florida on Bennett’s list, taking second place in a recruiting battle is no win at all. Bennett is expected to announce his decision in the next week, although he is clearly in no hurry.
  3. The other bit of intrigue remaining in the summer are the landing spots for the multitude of transfers still uncommitted. For Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett, that decision is already in the books, as last weekend he announced his decision to transfer to Marquette. Lockett, who has already earned his degree in business communications, wanted to be closer to his mother, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
  4. Once all the 2012 commitments are complete, the next big thing around the conference will be the summer trips. UCLA announced its long-rumored trip to China this week, a venture that could accomplish plenty for both the team and the conference. Most important for the Bruins is the chance to get in extra work during the summer for a talented team chock-full of newcomers. Ben Howland will get a chance to put his team through 10 practices prior the team’s flight to China on August 21. Once there, the Bruins will play a handful of Chinese teams that are expected to be “the equivalent of NCAA competition,” according to Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott. The team will likely also get a crack at the Chinese national team during its visit. The other benefit of the trip is the beginning of Scott’s master plan to take the Pac-12 brand to Asia. Scott expects that this will be the first of yearly trips by Pac-12 teams to China for similar summer events. Washington also announced it own plans for a summer international trip, with an itinerary that will take the Huskies to Spain, France, Monaco and Senegal. The visit to Senegal will be especially important, given that it is the home country of senior center Aziz N’Diaye. The Huskies will play one game in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, as well as putting on several basketball clinics elsewhere in the country.
  5. Lastly, a good story to read about. Utah senior guard Josh “Jiggy” Watkins was kicked off the Ute basketball team in January. But, instead of taking the easy route and quitting school, Watkins stuck around Salt Lake City and, last week, earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology. Watkins and his mom met with Utah head coach Larry Krystkowiak prior to the ceremony and Watkins admits that, while it was hard to have basketball taken away from him, he harbors no ill will towards his former coach and still thinks of him as a “great coach.” Watkins now expects to pursue a professional basketball career overseas, and we here at RTC wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. It was a rough senior season basketball-wise for Watkins, but in the end, he finished off a major accomplishment. Well done, Josh.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 03.30.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on March 30th, 2012

  1.  Without doing the math and coming up with an exact number, it’s easy to say that somewhere in the neighborhood of 330-340 teams in the NCAA’s Division I will end their basketball season with a loss, either in their conference tournament, the NCAA Tournament, or one of the three other postseason tournaments (to get the exact number, you’ve got to figure in the fact that half of the Ivy League school can potentially end the season with a win since they don’t have a conference tourney, plus D-I independents without a tourney as well). Monday night’s winner in New Orleans will obviously have the most to crow about, but the winners of the NIT, CBI and CIT tournaments will all head to the offseason on an upbeat note. And, despite all their struggles this season, Stanford claimed one of those slots on Thursday night, taking it to Minnesota at Madison Square Garden en route to a 24-point win in the NIT Final. Freshman guard Chasson Randle and sophomore backcourt mate Aaron Bright led the way with 15 points apiece, sending assistant coach Dick Davey off to retirement with a win.
  2. Tonight, Washington State will attempt to be another of those small number of teams to go out with a win, as it faces Pittsburgh in the third game of a three-game CBI championship series. While it is a battle for little more than 101st place, it is still important for the players, and even for some fans, as this article from CougCenter so aptly points out. However, for the third time in as many games, it appears WSU will have to go forth without its best player, Brock Motum, who will likely miss his third straight game after spraining an ankle two minutes into the CBI semifinal game last week. While Motum is doubtful, there is slightly more hope on the Pitt end that their best player, senior guard Ashton Gibbs, will return from his ankle sprain to take part in the final.
  3. Last summer, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott led the way to a major score for the conference, earning a $3 billion deal with ESPN and Fox for the rights to football, basketball and even Olympic sports throughout the conference. Still, Scott thinks that there is more to be had, calling college football, at least, undervalued. And, given that the big money available to football allows the Pac-12 to create an environment where 180 conference basketball games will be aired on a national basis, not only is there potentially more money to come for athletic departments around the country, there is more exposure available for basketball and other sports.
  4. We talked about this possibility the other day, but apparently Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell has narrowed his list of possible destinations to Virginia and Arizona. Though those schools could not be more different from each other, the point guard has eliminated all other schools from contention. McConnell made a trip to the Charlottesville campus last week and will visit Tucson next week, but the Wildcats should be considered the strong favorite for a couple reasons: First, while Virginia has sophomore Joe Harris firmly entrenched at the point guard spot for the next couple years, Arizona is wide open; and, McDonnell’s family has been friendly with the family of Wildcat head coach Sean Miller for some time. Pencil McDonnell in as a Wildcat, eligible in 2013-14.
  5. Lastly, on the heels of Washington’s elimination from the NIT on Tuesday night, the next big question in Huskyland is the fate of freshman guard Tony Wroten and sophomore wing Terrence Ross. Both are widely projected to be first round NBA draft picks should they choose to enter this year’s draft, but Wroten in particular could very well slip into the second round and non-guaranteed contract territory. In preparation for the big decisions ahead, both players are awaiting feedback from NBA personnel and will face something of a formality in an NCAA-mandated April 10 deadline to announce their intentions, but in fact they will have until the NBA’s official deadline of April 29 to figure out their next step. Unfortunately for both, the NCAA’s guidelines don’t provide the ability for potential prospects to work out for NBA teams prior to making their decisions. It remains to be seen whether such a setup allows for either more or less bad decisions in regards to early entry.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.16.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 16th, 2012

  1. Larry Scott has made quite a splash in his two-plus years in his current job. Aside from being partially responsible for making the Pac-10 obsolete and ushering in the era of the Pac-12, he helped the conference ink a huge new television deal with ESPN and Fox that made presidents, trustees and other administrators all up and down the conference very happy. That television deal begins next year, and as part of it, the conference will be unveiling a Pac-12 Network, and we got some more details on Wednesday about how that will look when the conference held the groundbreaking ceremony for the network’s future studios. There will be one national channel and six regional channels, and together they will air approximately 850 live events next year, including every football game and every men’s basketball game that does not appear on other national networks (i.e., ESPN or Fox). Additionally, all of those games will be available on mobile devices. Now, we just need to get some recruits into these schools so we’ll have some significantly more watchable games.
  2. Case in point: I write about Pac-12 basketball, I live in Los Angeles, I love college basketball rivalry games and I may or may not have had a rooting interest in the UCLA/USC basketball game on Wednesday night. But rather than being excited about watching the game, I took a look at it from time to time, merely out of a sense of duty. And the fact that I put my precious eyes in the precarious position of having to watch that mess should show just how dedicated I am. UCLA led the whole way, building its lead as high as 23 points in the second half, before fading back into a 10-point win. Still, despite the lopsidedness of the game, head coach Ben Howland never really called off the dogs, playing just seven players the whole way. The Bruins dominated on the glass (41.2% OR, 88.2% DR) and were led by the Wear twins, who combined for 30 points and 24 rebounds, each registering a double-double. And, Maurice Jones is still gunning away: 3-for-11 tonight.
  3. As we head down the stretch, we start saying goodbye to seniors, little by little. For Washington’s Darnell Gant, his final homestand of his career comes this weekend, as the Huskies finish the season with three straight road games. Gant has been in Seattle for five years now, after taking a redshirt his first year under Lorenzo Romar. But after an inauspicious beginning, Gant has the opportunity to become the first player in Washington history to go to four NCAA Tournaments. While he came into college dreaming of an NBA future, those plans are a longshot now. However, Gant already has a diploma in his pocket, earning a performing arts degree last June and could have another type of entertainment career ahead of him.
  4. Just like the Huskies, every other team in the top five of the conference standings have two home games and three road games remaining on their schedule. And fans of each team are probably all coming up with some sort of formula that will not only put that team in NCAA Tournament contention, but also give them a chance to take down the regular season title. For Colorado, that formula begins with a win at Utah on Saturday. While the Buffaloes have struggled on the road this year, that is a very winnable must-win game. For there, CU returns home, where they are 7-0 in conference, to host California and Stanford. Beating the Golden Bears will be tough no matter where they play, but the Buffs will need to extend their home record to 9-0. To this point, all of this is very reasonable; where Tad Boyle’s club will need to break form is in the final week of the season, when they’ll have to travel to the Oregon schools to wrap up the year. Winning at a lower division team like Oregon State in the final game of the season is very doable, leaving the game on March 1 at Oregon as the lone game where the Buffs would need to significantly overachieve to get the job done.
  5. Lastly, while Arizona is by no means giving up on the rest of the season, they are already making plans for the offseason: namely, the Bahamas. Schools are allowed to take an exhibition tour once every four years, and Sean Miller is planning to take his Wildcats on a short trip to the Bahamas in August. While the team will only play a handful of games there, the major bonus for the squad is the additional practices and extra time together than the team will get to experience. With a group of four talented freshmen coming in next season and needing to be merged with a team that will be missing three senior contributors on this year’s team, the offseason trip should make the Wildcats that much more difficult to handle next year.
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Pac-12 Morning Five: 02.07.12 Edition

Posted by AMurawa on February 7th, 2012

  1. Last week at this time, California sat at #30 in the RPI, one of the factors that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee uses to determine at-large participants. However, after losing at home to Arizona on Saturday, its RPI fell to #48, giving us an excellent example of just how tenuous of a claim Pac-12 schools have toward an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. The win did bump Arizona up to #62 from #85, while Washington, the conference leader, still sits at #72. For perspective, an RPI in the 30s will very likely get you in, while pushing up into the 40s will leave you wondering on Selection Sunday eve. In short, odds are getting stronger that the only team that will be truly comfortable when they tune into CBS on Selection Sunday is the winner of the conference tournament.
  2. We gave our Pac-12 Player of the Week award to Joshua Smith for his big weekend in Washington, but the Pac-12 handed out the hardware to Arizona senior guard Kyle Fogg, a worthy recipient based on his well-rounded weekend leading the Wildcats to a road sweep of the Bay Area schools. It is Fogg’s first ever POTW honor, and the 83rd all-time selection for an Arizona player.
  3. Yesterday we mentioned the injuries that Cal’s Allen Crabbe and Harper Kamp suffered in their game against Arizona State on Saturday, but today Mike Montgomery confirmed that the injuries aren’t anything to worry about and that both players will practice and play this weekend when the Golden Bears head to the Los Angeles schools. Meanwhile, Arizona State junior guard Trent Lockett will likely return to action this week for the Sun Devils after missing six games with a badly sprained right ankle. The team’s leading scorer took over the point guard duties for Herb Sendek following the team’s dismissal of Keala King, but may be able to return to more of a wing role now that junior guard Chris Colvin has had some success running the point. Nevertheless, ASU has gone 1-5 in Lockett’s absence.
  4. The Pac-12 is probably no different than other leagues around the country in that fans from one end of the conference to the other think the officiating, um, isn’t very good. Oregon fans are the latest to take up the call for better officiating, following their loss to Colorado Saturday night on a controversial last-second foul call. Conference commissioner Larry Scott made it a priority to work on improving the work of Pac-12 football officials last year, and here’s hoping a similar initiative is in the works for the basketball side of things. However, there is a significant barrier in the way: Basketball officials aren’t tied to or affiliated with any one conference, but rather work a variety of games with teams from different conferences involved. But, to this point, Scott has worked wonders in his time with the conference, so hope remains that he can work on improving the state of officiating in Pac-12 basketball.
  5. And lastly, speaking of the commissioner, he was awarded with a contract extension to 2016 yesterday, unanimously approved by all 12 university presidents. In his first two years as the Commish, he has expanded the conference to 12 schools (and twice almost bumped it up to 16), scored a huge new television deal with ESPN and Fox that begins next year and will include a Pac-12 television network, and just generally done a great job marketing and promoting the conference not only around the West, but nationally and even internationally. Now, USC fans may not be all that enamored of Scott, but the rest of the conference seems to be mighty pleased with the way things are being done under the new commissioner.
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Morning Five: 02.07.12 Edition

Posted by rtmsf on February 7th, 2012

  1. Alabama star forward Tony Mitchell was suspended indefinitely on Monday by head coach Anthony Grant, who did not elaborate on specific causes other than to say that it wasn’t the result of a specific action but a series of transgressions. The junior wing who averages 13/7 on the season picked a tough time to fail to come through for his team, as the Crimson Tide travels to Auburn tonight and LSU on Saturday. Sitting firmly on the early February bubble, Alabama cannot afford to lose either game against two lower-tier SEC teams without one of its two best players in the lineup.
  2. From a player forced to sit to a coach choosing to do so, College of Charleston head man Bobby Cremins opened up Monday about his recent leave of absence from the team. Citing doctor’s orders, the 64-year old coach said that he was running himself into the ground: “I got physically exhausted, fatigued and lacked the necessary energy to coach our team. My doctor advised me to take an immediate medical leave of absence, which I did.” Coaches are competitive and stressed-out people in general, so it probably didn’t help matters that Cremins’ team got off to a 9-1 start this season before dropping eight of their next 11 games. Reading between the lines a bit in Cremins’ statement to the media, he didn’t sound like someone ready to stop coaching — let’s hope he gets his energy back in time to lead CofC to a run in the Southern Conference Tournament next month.
  3. If you were like most of America, you didn’t know Duke had lost another home game until sometime yesterday given that Miami’s overtime victory over the Blue Devils finished as most people were either en route or settling into their Super Bowl parties. One man who knew it all too well and no doubt carried it with him into a sleepless night on Sunday was Mike Krzyzewski. Already having assailed his team in the postgame interview for a perceived lack of effort, the venerable coach on Monday took to the airwaves on 99.9 FM The Fan in Raleigh to further chastise his team for not “playing hard” during parts of the loss to Miami. As we all know, Duke’s ridiculous success has always been predicated on its tough man-to-man defense; and its defensive success has derived from equal parts talent and effort. This year’s defense, however, is one of the worst the Blue Devils have fielded since Chris Collins and Jeff Capel were hoisting shots at the rim rather than dry erasers at the white board. Coach K cannot change the talent part of his defensive problem overnight, but he can change the effort issue. We’d expect his players to come at North Carolina like a pack of starving jackals in Chapel Hill tomorrow night.
  4. We’re really not sure what to make of this, but if your goal is to figure out who has the best chance of finding the sunny side of the bubble on Selection Sunday, maybe this simple equation from Drew Cannon at Basketball Prospectus is really all you need. Could it really be that easy — perhaps so. Considering that the RPI is the metric favored by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee, it makes sense that teams rated highly in that manner have a bit of a leg up. When you then add Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency-based metrics to the RPI, you’re essentially favoring teams that play the game of basketball (from a possession-by-possession standpoint) a little better than those who do not. Voila, the combination seems to result in a hybrid model that is a fairly accurate predictor of the field.
  5. Seth Davis was back in action Monday with a new Hoop Thoughts column, and although we disagree with him that the Kansas-Missouri rivalry will take very long to see back on the regular season schedule (five years, tops), we completely concur with his sentiment that the entire rabbit hole of conference realignment is a very, very bad thing for college athletics. And yet this is the tip of the iceberg, we’re afraid. The Pac-12 on Monday just rewarded its commissioner, Larry Scott, with an extension of his contract through 2016. How is this relevant, you ask? Recall that it was Scott’s maneuvering two summers ago in trying to lure several Big 12 schools to the Pac-10 that set into motion much of the ensuing hysteria and deal-making among schools and conferences looking out only for themselves. Without Scott’s overtures, would Missouri and Texas A&M be going to the SEC? Would Pittsburgh and Syracuse be ACC-bound? It appears that there’s no honor among the barbarians at the gate, though — say it with us now — Scott’s contract extension was approved… unanimously.
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