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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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Saturday, May 22, 2004

I'm Not

With all the coaching changes in college basketball, Dick Vitale is amazed Matt Doherty hasn't gotten another job offer.

Yes, Doherty had success at Notre Dame. But his time at North Carolina was marked by mediocre recruiting, poor coach-player relations, and few victories. After he was let go, everyone was left with a sour taste in their mouths. The athletic director who hired an unproven commodity. The coach who had failed at his alma matter. The boosters who had run one of their own out of town. The players who pitied their well-meaning coach.

It isn't one particular facet of Doherty's experience at North Carolina that is keeping him off the coaching carousel. It is, in a strange (and perhaps unfair) sort of way, his "body of work."


Scheduling

I've always been fascinated by the art of non-conference scheduling. The trouble mid-majors are rumored to have. The preference certain teams (Syracuse) demonstrate for cupcakes and others (Temple) for the Top 25. The give and take between friends -- and enemies -- on the coaching circuit.

And the results. News and notes, compiled from various sources:

-- Boston College is finalizing plans to contest UCLA in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim on December 5th.
-- The University of Hawaii will play at Saint Louis on December 4th. (Money talks. SLU will pay UH $25,000 for making the trip).
-- Xavier and Tennessee recently finalized a home-and-home series. XU will travel South this fall, with the Volunteers making the return trip the year after.
-- Should a federal court rule in favor of abolishing the NCAA's 2-in-4 rule (which limits college teams to participation in two early-season tournaments every four years), Notre Dame will join Mississippi State, Missouri and Ohio State as hosts in November's 2004 Guardians Classic. First- and second-round games will be played Nov. 15-16. The four winners would then advance to the Final Four in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 22-23.
-- Steve Fisher is smiling. The first "San Diego Slam" will take place on December 11th and feature the University of San Diego against the University of Southern California in the opener, followed by San Diego State University against the University of California in the nightcap.
-- Memphis will start a home-and-home series at Purdue in December. The Tigers also hope to begin the season against Georgia Tech at the Hall of Fame Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts.


Fly Away With Me

Junior Johnnie Jackson will follow former Boston College assistant coach Tim O'Shea to Ohio University. Seldom-used Devon Evertsen and walk-on Tavio Hobson have also decided to leave the Eagles, causing Al Skinner's depth chart to take a hit.

With Uka Agbai's graduation, BC has seven scholarship players, four starters included, returning this fall. That group will be joined by what is considered a strong three-man freshman class, giving the Eagles a 10-man squad.

We'll see where the underrated Skinner leads the soon to be underrated Eagles this season. My bet - against the odds - is into the NCAA Tournament.


Friday, May 21, 2004

Few and far between.

Opportunities like these are


Hallelujah

Welcome back. But Bill, what took you so long?

Sports Guy: Remember when MJ came back to the Bulls in '95 and put out that two-word press release? Well ...

I'm not MJ. So I can't do that.

But something is going on. Two weeks ago, I left Jimmy's show, and I'm signing a new contract with ESPN. I missed writing my column and wanted the chance to pursue some additional opportunities with ESPN (none of which I'm allowed to mention yet -- although sadly, the launching of ESPN6 isn't one of them).

Does anybody watch Jimmy Kimmel Live? I don't know a soul who likes the show, even though my friends and I fall into the production's targeted demographic.


Back from the Dead

It turns out that Jay Bilas still has a job with ESPN.

Seems like the time off (?) served Jay well. He's surprisingly eloquent in his latest column. For example:

If college basketball is so easy, and the pro game is so hard, how come pro coaches don't just "come down" to college and dominate? The money is really good, and you have long-term security relative to the NBA. Ask Bob Hill and John MacLeod, who spent their time in college getting their tails kicked, all the while talking about how nobody in college "runs anything."


He's the Stat Man

Ken Pomeroy (yes, that Ken Pomeroy) revisits the NCAA Championship game and argues that, conventional wisdom be damned, Georgia Tech was too patient against Connecticut.

A most interesting analysis, I must admit. Pomeroy reaches his conclusion by considering how both Georgia Tech and Connecticut fared in each team's fastest and slowest games, based on calculated possessions.


A Process Post

Collegeball has become a more vibrant community over the past couple weeks. Repeat visitors are up, as is the number of comments per post.

Thank you.

To accommodate the site's growth and further promote discussion (and argumentation), I returned to counting the number of comments underneath each post. But with my old commenting system, the counting process slowed the site's upload time.

So I moved to a new commenting system, the industry standard, HaloScan. Thanks for the early help, Comment This. But with HaloScan, the site should load a little quicker on your screen. For now, bear with me as I transfer comments from the old system to the new.


Pity Pitino?

Matt (of Bulls Blog fame) rips Rick Pitino for ripping Donta Smith over the youngster's decision to go back on his commitment to Louisville and declare for the NBA Draft.

Notably, Matt finds Pitino's rhetoric ironic, given that he himself abandoned the college game for the pros several years before his contract was set to expire.

So I put the chimps to work. Donta Smith, meet Mike Bradley.

From the May 9th, 1997 edition of the Boston Globe:

Just about every high school recruit hears the same promise. While praising the kid's talents and rhapsodizing about what he can do for the program, a college basketball coach utters words from that once-popular Spinners tune.

"I'll be around."

Most players base their college choice at least in part on the coach's vows to remain through their four-year tenure. Apparently, Worcester Burncoat big man Mike Bradley was one of them. After backing out of a commitment to attend Boston College, he opted for Kentucky and a chance to be coached by Rick Pitino.

But Pitino opted to come to the Celtics, leaving Bradley and his family bitter. He reportedly said Pitino promised him he would be around throughout Bradley's career at UK. Bradley is also quoted as saying that when he delivered his letter of intent, his father was told by Pitino he would not leave UK while his son was there.

The May 7th, 1997 edition of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette concurs:

Rick Pitino's oh-so-sincere face filled the big-screen TV as Dave Bradley and I sat alone in his den.

The orange basketball phone rang incessantly as the answering machine blew off the calls. The basketball clock on the wall read half past three. The TV room is filled with trophies, more than 50, won by the Bradley boys, Dave and Mike, the latter one of four Rick Pitino recruits headed for the University of Kentucky in the fall.

Dave Bradley Sr., wearing a Boston College sweatshirt "as a joke," didn't want to say much. Sensitive spot for the Bradleys. Coach Pitino had promised Mike that he'd be there at Kentucky for Mike's four years. Now Pitino's voice of betrayal filled the small room in the modest brown house on Wilkinson Street in Worcester's Burncoat section.

Pitino did not apologize to Mike Bradley or three other recruits for lying to them about his promise to remain at Kentucky...At his winter press conference announcing his choice of Kentucky, Mike had made it clear that Pitino was a critical factor in his decision. He believed in Pitino's ability to mold pros...

Doesn't it seem hypocritical that colleges can hold recruits to their written declarations to attend while not holding a coach to the remaining years on his contract? Seems like a one-way street, doesn't it?

During March, Pitino or one of his minions would regularly call Mike Bradley to assure him that all the Celtics rumors were false. Pitino's best friend, Ken "Jersey Red" Ford, once called the Bradley house at midnight to quash such a rumor. Last week, Pitino assistant Jimmy O'Brien called to say Pitino was waffling.

What goes around comes around.


Woah

According to ESPN's Chad Ford, high schooler J.R. Smith is now projected as a lottery pick.

Maybe, after all, it was a good decision for Smith to renege on his commitment to North Carolina. (But don't tell that to Ryan over at the Heels, Sox & Steelers blog).


The case for Nolan

Mike Anderson just had his contract extended. His UAB Blazers upset Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

Monty as an NBA Coach

ESPN's Daily Quickie doubts Montgomery will succeed at Golden State ("He'll be back in college before his current freshmen graduate"), citing the experiences of Tim Floyd, Jerry Tarkanian, Lon Kruger, John Calipari and Leonard Hamilton.

But Montgomery had a better track record than all five in college -- and he'll have a better track record than all five in the pros. First, he's a great X's and O's coach, while Tarkanian and Calipari were always more flash than substance. Second, he has a demonstrated ability to generate productive team chemistry, a quality I have yet to see from Leonard Hamilton. Third and finally, he has always been able to command intense respect from his players, an important ability I never saw from Tim Floyd or Lon Kruger.

Monty may not win an NBA Championship any time soon, but he also won't flameout after a year or two.


A bit of a surprise

C. J. Giles will enroll at Kansas, not Washington.

After Giles was released from his commitment to Miami, I had the 6'10" center headed to Washington. Figured Romar's magic, the Huskies late season success and the allure of playing close to home would be too much to overcome.

But I forgot that Giles' pop, Chester, played at Kansas in the late '70s. Following David Padgett's departure and Self's failure to ink Malik Hairstonk, I - perhaps, and only for a moment - also doubted Kansas' ability to secure top-level talent.

No more. The Jayhawks will be just fine come fall.


Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The Other Shoe Drops

According to the AP and ESPN, Mike Montgomery will leave Stanford to coach the Golden State Warriors.

Frankly, I'm stunned. As must be Stanford.

Montgomery has coached the Cardinal for 18 seasons, the last few with great success. He's built Stanford into a national power, securing top NCAA seeds in three of the past five tournaments. He's found a way to recruit (at Stanford, no easy feat), coach, motivate, inspire, handle NBA defections...In short, he's succeeded where few thought possible -- and at a level few imagined.

Wow.

Finding a replacement of his caliber will be next to impossible. I'm stumped as to where the Cardinals might look. Most college coaches couldn't handle recruiting not only athletes, but also students...Andy Katz put it this way:

The Stanford job likely would attract some of the top names in the business who have a history of working with academically rich, highly skilled basketball players. The Cardinal's recruiting pool is consistently considered one of the smallest in the country for a high-major program.


Marky Mark

Unlike most folks who write about college or pro ball, myself included, Mark Cuban has a vested interest in the exodus of players from academia (ha!) into private practice.

If for that reason alone, I'll link to him on occasion. Blog Maverick's solution to young players leaving early? Get rid of guaranteed rookie contracts.

Cuban makes a persuasive case, no?


His Own Brand of Logic

Via Dave Sez. (A blatant, shameful rip-off of content).

Earlier, I argued against government oversight of the NCAA. After the latest from NCAA president Myles Brand, perhaps I ought to reconsider. Dave has the lowlights:

Myles away from logic. On ACC expansion:

Most of the realignments had to do more with academic affiliations than they did with [athletics]. No question about it. And I know that for a fact. . . . The press thought that this was a money grab.

Myles away from logic. On football playoffs:

This group of presidents, who are the ones in control, have made it very clear that they don't want to overcommercialize I-A football moreso than it is now, and turning it into a Super Bowl-type environment would do that.

The entire stand-up routine is available via the Richmond Times-Dispatch.


Their Own Undoing

Wonder how UCLA forward Trevor Ariza came to think it was a good idea that he declare for the NBA Draft?

Considering Ariza just signed with Todd Ramasar of Life Sports Management in Los Angeles, his new agent is suspect numero uno.

Ramasar's accomplice? The UCLA administration. From the March 14, 2003 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

T.J. Cummings and Andre Patterson were gesturing and shouting to the crowd during several Bruin timeouts, but it wasn't because mom and dad were in the stands. Sitting behind the UCLA bench cheering madly were former Bruin players Rico Hines and Todd Ramasar.

In other words, UCLA gave Ramasar the access he needed to "befriend" the school's ballplayers.


Nolan!

Why does Nolan Richardson remain unemployed? AD's never cease to amaze me.

Nolan amassed a .711 career winning percentage in 22 major-college seasons. He's the only coach to have won junior college, National Invitation Tournament and NCAA titles. In short, he can C-0-A-C-H.

My only solace is that perhaps Richardson will remain unemployed through this season, afterwhich the University of Massachusetts will fire Steve Lappas and hire him...

Reason #214 to fire Steve Lappas: His success at Villanova wasn't his own doing. Credit goes to then-assistant coach Paul Hewitt.


Misnomer?

CNN/SI terms Mike Fish's columns "Straight Shooting." Not particularly sure why. His pieces aren't any more plain-written, his arguments aren't any more matter of factly advanced, and his tone is no less candid than the site's other contributors.

Oh well.

In his latest, Fish celebrates Larry Eustachy's return to the coaching profession. A nice read, by off-season standards.

Though Fish wins my vote for Whopper of the Week:

Eustachy, 48, is a guy you root for -- he doesn't make excuses, blame anyone else for his screw-up nor dance around his alcoholism or his time at a Minnesota rehab facility.

Uhhh, right. I root for middle-aged coaches who hit on college-aged girls all the time. Mensches, all of them.



En Route

a preview of next year's Top 25
post-draft entrees, pre-draft withdrawals


Tuesday, May 18, 2004

We've Been Down This Road Before

Eddie Sutton, rehab specialist.

I'm all for Sutton's famed second changes, but the following gave me pause:

Last year's Final Four squad featured nine players who didn't start their college careers in Stillwater. Allen was one of two JUCO transfers, while five other scholarships went to Division I players who started in places like North Texas, Central Florida, BYU and Baylor.

Nine of twelve (or so) is quite a percentage. Seems like Oklahoma State isn't much of a recruiter at the high school level...


Sunday, May 16, 2004

The Off-Season

This is what passes for news. Ugh.

The article's most interesting tidbit:

In 1989, he [Larry Krystkowiak] became the only player in Montana men's basketball history to have his number (42) retired.

Guess the Grizzles are quite stingy with their numbers.


Off Topic

But well worth your time. Rick Reilly speaks truth to power.