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yoco :: College Basketball
(a sports weblog) news and commentary on men's college basketball and the ncaa tournament

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Thursday, April 15, 2004

That Bill Self

is one smart cookie.

Welcome to the coaching profession, Danny [Manning].


Oh, Ricky...

Even the best recruits can't save you from your own mistakes:

Texas coach Rick Barnes got himself ejected with 3.9 seconds left in the Longhorns' Sweet 16 loss to Xavier for arguing with referee Ted Valentine, costing his team its last remaining chance of overcoming what was then a three-point deficit.

Texas' 2004 recruiting class includes three All-Americans, LaMarcus Aldridge, Daniel Gibson and Mike Williams, and two top high school stars, Connor Atchley and Dion Dowell. We'll see how many NCAA Tournament games Rick Barnes wins with 'em.


Turnaround Tom

Via Andy Katz:

Penders likes to call himself "Turnaround Tom," but he's got quite a task in Houston.

Uhhh, right. Tom, do everybody a favor and turnaround and go home. You're both over and underqualified at Houston.


Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Declaring early for the NFL Draft

Seems to me a bunch of players think they're declaring early for the seven round NFL Draft.

Ben Gordon? Fine.
Dwight Howard? A high school phenom.
Marco Killingsworth? Who? The Auburn junior is ready...for Round Five.
Trevor Ariza? A household name. For those keeping track, he is the second underclassman to declare early from a UCLA team that went 11-17 last year.


Just because your mouth is moving, Part II

Matt over at the Bulls Blog shows Jason Whitlock some love as he joins the chorus as an Okafor doubter:

Not that he isn't a decent prospect who had a great year, but sportswriters across the country are HOPING that Okafor makes it big in the league, to 'show up' all of the young high school and international kids who are going in the league early. After 3 years of college and a degree, Okafor is certainly more well-rounded and educated than he was when he was 18, and he's a better basketball player than he was then. But that doesn't change the fact that he isn't Tim Duncan coming from Wake Forest, or (good god) Olajuwon. Look at things objectively, and tell me how good an NBA player he'll really be.

We'll see if Okafor proves me wrong, but in my opinion the Bulls shouldn't be too swayed by his college stardom. If they can get a top-flight talent by trading the pick, go for it. The team already has a player with similar age and game, who happens to be 3-4 inches taller and able to jump out of the gym. Oh, and they also have the same...issues.

I don't disagree with Matt's initial assessment; pundits across America hope Okafor's professional success will deter high schoolers from jumping straight to the NBA.

But I do find fault with his comparison of Okafor to Duncan and Olajuwon -- which, after all, I now recognize to be Whitlock's central argument. Okafor has neither Olajuwon's body nor Duncan's game.

But Okafor does have finesse. And shot-blocking ability. And a knack around the basket. In short, he's no Pervous Ellison.

Both Duncan and Olajuwon (and Patrick Ewing to boot) were highly celebrated NBA bound centers from their freshman year of college on. Okafor, on the other hand, developed into a pro prospect.

Emeka's quick, has great hands, an array of low post moves and plays quality defense. Is he the next great NBA center? No. Is he the next Never Nervous? No. Okafor's somewhere in between.

Which puts Whitlock, ironically, on the side of having over-hyped Okafor's defects...


Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Ology my a**

ESPN's "Bracketology," courtesy Joe Lunardi (the funniest looking commentator on network television), attempts to approximate science in the final weeks before Selection Sunday.

Lunardi often contends that selection of teams for the NCAA Tournament is a science, based on hard data and assumptions. Therefore he should be - and has been - able to accurately predict most if not all of the tournament's teams ahead of CBS' Selection Special.

Fine. But then his current exercise - projecting next year's bracket - is the equivalent of a third grade science project on nuclear physics.


Should he stay or should he go?

For Connecticut's Ben Gordon, tomorrow is the big day. Smart money is on an early departure.


How Good Will Georgia Tech Be Next Year?

The Georgia Tech Sports Blog quotes a piece on recruit Anythony Morrow. Scott figures the 6'6" wingman to be the "hier apparent to Marvin Lewis, only more athletic." Scary, no?

For my part, I believe the Jackets' success this year owes more to circumstance and team chemistry than it does to pure talent. Next year's crew will be only as good - or bad - as their egos allow.


To Watch...Self-Distruct

Dick Vitale went up with his "dazzling dozen" a few days ago.

Arizona and Texas are ranked too high, Connecticut too low.

But the real whopper comes in Vitale's "Others to watch" list.

Florida?!?! "Florida is expected to have Anthony Roberson, Matt Walsh and David Lee as the trio to watch." The Gators will be an interesting squad to watch self-destruct. Donovan can't coach, Roberson won't pass and Walsh won't stop shooting. I expect another disappointing NCAA Tournament exit from the Gators.


Norm!

Kansas associate head coach Norm! Roberts will be the new head coach at St. John's.

New York Native? Check (Queens).
New York Coaching Experience? Check (Queens College, 1992-1995).
New York Recruiting Background? Check (Charlie Villanueva to Illinois, Dee Brown to Illinois and Russell Robinson to Kansas).

Norm! has been a trusted assistant to Bill Self, first at Oral Roberts, then at Tulsa, Illinois, and this past season at Kansas. The last Self assistant to land a head coaching gig, Billy Gillispie, at UTEP two seasons ago, led the Miners to the NCAA Tournament this season.

Sounds like a very good choice.


Monday, April 12, 2004

Just because your mouth is moving

or, in this case, your fingers typing...doesn't mean you're making any sense.

Witness ESPN Page 2's Jason Whitlock:

Okafor is the ideal college athlete. He's going to graduate in just three years. He's an academic All-American. He's a gentleman on and off the court. He helps old women cross the street. He comes from a supportive family.

He's the next Pervis Ellison. You remember Never Nervous, don't you? He led Louisville to the national championship and then became the No. 1 pick in the 1989 draft. The Sacramento Kings plucked Never Nervous. Ellison showed a little early promise, could never stay healthy, bounced around the league and eventually fizzled into oblivion.

Okafor isn't nearly as gifted as Ellison. Okafor reminds me of Adonal Foyle, a sound athlete with lots of brains. Okafor doesn't have a polished low-post game. He doesn't have a move that will consistently produce points at the next level. He'll score on dunks and put-backs. He doesn't put the ball on the floor well enough to excel facing the basket. And he doesn't have Carlos Boozer's big butt to muscle guys in the paint.

Okafor is a top-flight college player. There are a dozen high school kids with more basketball upside, and there are probably a half dozen more kids overseas who will outplay him on the next level.


More than you ever wanted

to know about Clemson basketball's recruits.

When was the last time Clemson reached the NCAA Tournament? The Sweet 16? As far as I'm concerned, Clemson is merely padding -- two extra wins a season -- for the ACC's premier teams.

That being said, CollegeHoopsnet is run by a fellow alum of Washington University in St. Louis. Not bad for a recent grad.


Is Charlie Villanueva NBA bound?

I sure hope not.

Yes, Villanueva could follow Corey Maggette's lead and go from college reserve to NBA lottery pick.

But why the rush? If Villanueva returns to Connecticut, the skilled 6'11" big man will have a monster year and solidify his draft status. If, however, Charlie bolts to the NBA, he faces a slew of competition - graduating seniors (not a bad lot), a number of high profile early entrants (teammate Emeka Okafor, for one) and nearly a dozen promising high schoolers.

Gregg Doyel wrote up a nice piece on Villanueva's dilemma.

"I have a decision to make...Next year could be special for me here," Villanueva said. "I'm leaning toward coming back."

Here's to hoping he does.


Like Father?

Like Esherick.

I like John Thompson III, but don't get me wrong. He's no John Thompson. A 68-42 record at Princeton over four years time is not bad. But Georgetown is an entirely different scene. Hoya fans should be disappointed that the the son has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Craig Esherick.

First, recruiting is a big part of the job. As far as I can tell, John Thompson III has only limited recruiting experience.

Second, the players are of a different mind. Student-athletes at Princeton are primarily focused on being students. Student-athletes at Georgetown are exclusively focused on being athletes.

Third, the Big East is a huge step up from the Ivy League. More games, more travel, and more exposure. What's to say John Thompson III is ready? In this year's NCAA Tournament, his team certainly wasn't...


Done. Haith to coach Miami.

Mike DeCourcy has the scoop, beating ESPN to the punch.


Hoosiers!

I believe Indiana's poor performance in each of the last two years places Mike Davis close to the hot seat.

Indiana's recruiting should therefore be under close scrutiny this year and next. Unfortunately for Davis, assuming McDonald's All-American Josh Smith departs for the NBA as is expected, the Hoosiers have two slots left in their upcoming class.

From the Indianapolis Star:

One day after it was announced IU had picked up an oral commitment from Julius Ashby, the 6-9 junior college forward said he had decided to attend Colorado instead. "I just changed my mind," Ashby said. "Originally, I thought Indiana was the place I wanted to go, but the more I thought about it, I just decided that Colorado would be a better fit for me.

Ashby's decision caught the IU coaching staff by surprise.

Ouch.

On Davis' radar: 7-foot center Robert Rothbart from Cupertino, California. Rothbart is also being recruited by Arizona, California and UCLA.


Sunday, April 11, 2004

So something happened, but we don't really have any information

A half non-story.


What Might Have Been

Via Brett McMurphy and the Tampa Tribune:

Connecticut's Rashad Anderson a Florida Gator? It almost happened.

"We visited with [Florida coach] Billy Donovan, but he didn't have any scholarships," said Anderson, a 2002 Lakeland Kathleen graduate. "I played great at the Nike All-American camp, and a lot of doors opened for me. Florida got a scholarship and wanted to get back in it, but by then my heart was set on UConn. I did waver at the last minute [his father wanted him to go to Florida]. I just decided UConn was a better place for me."

Fortunately for Anderson, he stuck with Connecticut. Had he matriculated at Florida, he would never have reached the Final Four and his game would have regressed under the "guidance" of Billy Donovan.


Ugh.

the college basketball season doesn't tip off for nearly seven months


Next Year's Impact Mid-Majors

The early list, with a very healthy assist from Mike Huguenin at the Orlando Sentinel.

George Mason: The Patriots finished third in the Colonial Athletic Association and lost to Papa Capel's Virginia Commonwealth by one in the league title game before winning twice in the NIT. They return four of their top five scorers.

Toledo: The athletic Rockets finished second, behind league champ Western Michigan in the West Division of the Mid-American Conference. Six of their top eight players will return, including three of their top four scorers.

Wichita State: The Shockers tied for second in the Missouri Valley Conference, then lost to a surging Florida State squad in the first round of the NIT. But they return four of their top five scorers, and will have a healthy dose of senior leadership next fall.


They Said It

"If he [Mike Krzyzewski] is still around and lasts in this crazy business for [another] 10 years, he probably should go right to heaven."
-- Former St. John's coach Mike Jarvis