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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, October 09, 2004

You've heard of concept cars.

Now read about a concept contract. While not NBA money, Tom Izzo's new contract assures him millions of dollars in bonuses. Enough to keep one of the game's best coaches in East Lansing until he retires.


the blind leading

the blind.

Dick Vitale's "All-Cawood Ledford Team," a list of the 16 best basketball radio broadcasters in the nation.


dinner and a

Ever wonder where former University of Michigan star Maceo Baston is today?

Click here to find out.


Friday, October 08, 2004

They Said It

"If I go to Washington I could be the Johnny Dawkins who believed in UW coach [Lorenzo] Romar."
-- Snohomish standout and Huskies signee Jon Brockman


Knowing Right from Wrong

Right.

DeMarcus Nelson, Duke: Junior Sean Dockery gets first crack at replacing Chris Duhon, but Nelson is a 6-3 combo guard who's too good not to play. He'll give shooting guards J.J. Redick and Daniel Ewing some rest before ultimately giving Dockery a spot on the bench.

DeMarcus is a stud. He'll relieve Dockery of significant amounts of playing time.

Wrong.

Calipari has an argument against the negative-recruiting theorem that suggests too many great players equals diminished minutes, which equals a diminished NBA Draft stock. Actually, he has two arguments.

"Luol Deng," he said. "Mike Miller."

As a Duke freshman last season, Deng was third on the team in minutes and second in scoring, yet went No. 7 overall in the 2004 NBA Draft. In two seasons at Florida, Miller averaged a modest 13.3 points in 26.7 minutes -- then went fourth in the 2000 draft.

Deng and Miller, both exceptional talents, were able to secure NBA millions despite diminished minutes, not because of them. Calipari is being creative with the truth. But doing so successfully.


he's no

johnny come lately.

A great piece by Andy Katz on the relationship between John Gilchrist and Gary Williams. Explains much of the Terps late-season success last year.

In particular, Gilchrest's comment on buying into the system caught my eye. And made me chuckle.

"We believe in his system. A lot of guys have made a good living, feeding their families, because of this system."


White House Press Corps, Take Note

Now these are questions. To read Bill Self’s answers, click here.

Dirk — Lawrence: Coach, do you think your young big men are going to be good enough to take some of the pressure off Wayne that the other teams are going to put on him?

Scott — KU Student: Coach, with all the returning talent and the freshman that we have coming in this season how are you going to keep everyone happy with playing time?

Randy — Kearney, Nebraska: Coach Self, Which is more of a challenge: Teaching an offense or teaching a defense?

Dylan — Kansas City: Awesome job recruiting coach! Will you please share some of the keys to your recruiting success?

Ordinarily, I hate arguments regarding which school, city or conference has the best fans. (Though when it comes to professional baseball, Boston and St. Louis, hands down). But after reading the questions asked of Coach Self during his recent chat with kusports.com, I’ll willing to entertain the notion that Kansas fans are among the most informed in the country.


meanwhile, back at the ranch

From the latest issue of SI. They get letters.

I always thought that the BCS was just about football. Now I know better. How else do you explain UConn's inclusion in the BCS after playing less than three years of Division I-A football? Utah, Fresno State, Boise State, TCU and others need to take note that in order to field a better football team they must first build up their basketball programs.

David Williams, Midland, Texas

He has a point, no?


What's in a name (Part II)?

Shouldn't the "Battle in Seattle" feature Gonzaga and the University of Washington rather than Gonzaga and the University of Massachusetts?


They Said It

"Would Bob Knight have ever won a game if this rule was strictly enforced in college basketball?"
-- Knight Ridder columnist Scott Fowler on the points penalty imposed by NASCAR on Dale Earnhardt Jr. for using vulgar language in a television interview


Point Guard U

Welcome.


Dwayne Wade's Cellphone

Tom Crean wins this off-season's good samaritan award.

"I told Bracey [Wright] he can do for Indiana what Dwyane Wade did for Marquette," [coach Tom] Crean said. "You can learn how to always keep your head up and make everybody around you better. That's what separates the really good players from the great players."

Then Crean told Wright another thing: You'll have to work the way Wade worked — and nobody Crean has coached outworked Wade...

"[Last] season doesn't exist anymore. Coach Crean got my head in the right place. He convinced me I have a great chance to make a statement about what kind of player I am."

The kind of player Wright can be is one of the top five in America. He can shoot the ball from Malibu. Squeeze him to take away that jumper, and he'll dunk on you. And he can handle the ball well enough to play guard or forward. That scouting report sounds like Wade, the former Marquette All-American who was one of the top NBA rookies last season...

Crean even handed Wright the number to Wade's cell phone. The two players discussed what Wright must do to have the kind of junior season Wade had when he carried Marquette to the 2003 Final Four.

St. Louis is a stretch, but Bracey could very well welcome D.J. White and Robert Vaden to Division 1 by leading the Hoosiers back into the NCAA Tournament.


Thursday, October 07, 2004

Pitt-iful Indeed

Chas catches the Panters' administration undermining Midnight Madness.


twin cities, twin problems

A second bit of bad news for the Gophers.


gopher-ing broke

The poor get poorer. Dan Monson isn't having the success I expected him to have at Minnesota. If only Rickert had stayed another year...


what might have been

Ben Affleck as Don Haskins in "Glory Road," a Disney movie on Texas Western's 1966 NCAA Championship. Now known as the University of Texas-El Paso, Texas Western was the first college basketball team to have five black starters.

Instead, we'll observe John Lucas ("The Hulk," "A Beautiful Mind," "Wonderland" and "Sweet Home Alabama") play Haskins.

Looking for your big break? Extras will be paid about minimum wage and will receive free breakfast and lunch.


Head in the game?

In the past month, as I read article after article on Dee Brown’s health, I’ve observed an undercurrent of optimism about Luther Head.

The Illini’s third guard, Luther is rumored to have matured as an individual and developed as a player. A sometimes contributor to Bruce Webber’s club last season, Head is expected to produce, big-time, this year.

But can he keep a handle on his personal life and his head in the game?

Read Bobby La Gesse’s piece from last March to find out.


upgraded from critical

to serious. A.J. Price is "feeling much better."

To a speedy recovery.


Wednesday, October 06, 2004

'ballers behaving badly

Here, here, here (again), here, here, here (again), and here.


secrecy = bad

My enthusiasm about the NCAA Selection Committee’s decision to assign a higher RPI value to road wins than home wins and road losses than home losses is only tempered by the secrecy surrounding the formula for the “adjusted” RPI that will be available to the committee come decision time (along with the original, home-road neutral, RPI).

While the regular RPI the committee uses is technically a secret, there are enough math geeks out there who have figured out the basics of the formula that those rankings are essentially public knowledge.

Calling Ken Pomeroy. Calling all statisticians (e.g. Joe Lunardi) who share my enthusiasm for college basketball. Calling all sources within the NCAA Selection Committee.

I want to know the formula for the “adjusted” RPI. Come March, I will desperately want to know the formula.

Attention bloggers! We have five months to crack the code.


A Can-Miss Event

Maybe you’ll jump at the chance to meet a living legend, but I think I’ll pass on the invitation. Courtesy the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle.

CHEYENNE -- Kenny Sailors, credited with inventing the jump shot that revolutionized college basketball, will be the grand marshal of the University of Wyoming Homecoming Parade beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

In his book "The Origins of the Jump Shot," John Christgau wrote that Sailors is one of eight pioneers who in the 1930s and 40s developed the modern-day jump shot. A native of Hillsdale, Sailors is the only basketball player in Wyoming history to earn All-American status three times.

He was the unanimous selection for College Basketball Player of the Year in 1943 and was named the Most Valuable Player of the 1943 NCAA Tournament, when he led Wyoming to its only NCAA basketball championship.


Duck Hunting

Oregon is poised for another postseason appearance (likely in the NIT). But you wouldn't know it from reading the football-obsessed Ducks Blog. Grmph.


Welcome Back

Seth Davis returns (!) to make a questionable call regarding Syracuse's future.

Syracuse's success this season hardly depends on whether Edelin is available. The Orange made it to the Sweet 16 last year without him, and with jet-quick freshman Josh Wright ready to take over at the point, the team will hit the ground running when practice begins in a couple of weeks. Edelin will be allowed to practice with the team while he's sitting out, but by the time he's eligible he may find it hard to crack the starting lineup.

Wright was a heralded recruit, but to suggest he can step in and run a Top 10 team right away is more than a little presumptuous. I expect Syracuse to win – and win often – this season. But without Edelin, I wouldn’t bet on finding the ‘Cuse in St. Louis.


Dick Vitale, you should know better

than to write an article on Lou Henson and the Basketball Hall of Fame while “Loo Doo” is sick.

I believe Henson belongs. But making the case while he’s in the hospital elicits sympathy that obscures the merits (or lack there)of his case.


What's in a name?

Sounds like a Big Ten basketball player to me.


martell!

After suggesting Martell Webster is likely to commit to the University of Washington in the coming days, the Seattle Times' Blaine Newnham gets ahead of himself.

This week, a football school became a basketball school.


Oh, the irony.

From several months back:

Look for March Madness to slow U.S. productivity as the NCAA tournament fuels sports talk around office water coolers and lingering about company lounge TV sets. Workplace authority John Challenger puts the productivity price tag at $1.5 billion as workers spend 10 minutes a day for the 15-day tournament discussing the games. But some bosses use March Madness as a morale booster. Thirty percent of employers admit to allowing an office pool on tournament play, according to figures compiled by the Society for Human Resource Management.


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

writing, examples of

good & bad


currently I'm rereading

Shane Battier's March 2001 column for Maxim. Thought you might want to read the piece as well. An excerpt:

Last summer I was walking down the street in Birmingham, and I see this heavyset guy take off in a dead sprint toward me, a block and a half away, yelling, “Hey! Hey! Hey!” I thought I was going to be assaulted or something. He’s all out of breath, panting like a dog. He’s going to have a heart attack right there, he’s so out of breath. He says, “My name is Mark Jones [or something], and I’m from the law offices of [whatever].” And he hands me his business card. I say thanks and turn around and walk away. It’s pathetic.


Comings and Goings

Frank Burlison, formerly with Fox Sports, has joined Rivals.com. I look forward to his columns during the season.


Coincidence?

Yesterday, at about 3 PM, I blogged about the success Bruiser Flint is having at Drexel.

Today, at about 3 PM, ESPN published a column by Andy Katz on the same exact subject.

Coincidence? Most likely. Though I'm happy Andy agrees with my judgment on topics that deserve our attention.


The Case Against

Some of the concerns below are more fiction (e.g. Dee Brown’s health) than fact. But in every case they represent the three most significant fears I would have as a fan of

Wake Forest: (1) Skip Prosser won’t have the experience to lead the Deacons come March. (2) The same health problems that plagued Wake Forest last season (Vytas Danelius’ shoulder and Chris Ellis’ right foot) will return. (3) Defense will remain a problem and Wake will stumble during outings in which the team shoots poorly from the field.

Kansas: (1) The departures of Jeff Graves and David Padgett will enable opponents to collapse on Wayne Simien, limiting the big fella’s effectiveness. (2) One or more of the Jayhawks’ summer injuries (to Keith Langford’s knee, Wayne Simien’s groin, J.R. Gidden’s sore foot and Alex Galindo’s wrist) will return, undermining the team’s depth. (3) Aaron Miles will struggle from outside, putting undue pressure on Langford to lead.

Georgia Tech: (1) Marvin Lewis’ points and quiet leadership will be sorely missed. (2) Will Bynum will be much less effective as a starter than a role player. Further, Will’s height will become an issue. (3) Luke Schenscher won’t rise to the occasion during this season as he did in last year’s NCAA Tournament.

North Carolina: (1) Raymond Felton won’t mature as a player, failing to live up to the media hype surrounding his potential. (2) The Tar Heels will miss J.R. Smith and lack a slasher on the wings. (3) Marvin Williams will pull an Eddie Griffin.

Illinois: (1) Lack of points production down low. (2) Contrary to countless recent columns, Dee Brown is not healthy and has not fully recovered from last season’s injury. (3) A weak Big 10 won’t toughen the Fighting Illini for a lengthy March Madness run.

Connecticut: (1) Not a single player will step up and establish themselves as the team’s new leader. (2) Lacking maturity, Rudy Gay will disappoint. (3) With or without a visible leader, the Huskies will fail to develop the chemistry necessary to weather the ups and downs of a long season.

Syracuse: (1) The Orange will lack a third scoring option. (2) Billy Edelin won’t return. Or will return, but in so doing disrupt team chemistry. (3) Craig Forth will continue to get into early foul trouble, enabling teams to concentrate on containing Hakkim Warrick’s productivity on offense.

Duke: (1) The lack of a true point guard. (2) A short rotation (particularly up front) will dilute the benefit of team practices and enable opposing clubs to exploit tired Blue Devils as games wind down. (3) On nights that J.J. Redick is off, Duke will be unable to score at the clip necessary to keep pace with other premier clubs. (DeMarcus Nelson won't be ready to contribute immediately).

Oklahoma State: (1) Eddie Sutton will find it harder to replace Tony Allen’s production than he had hoped. (2) Neither Joey Graham nor John Lucas III will have developed and matured as could (and should) have been expected after last year’s success. (3) JamesOn Curry will disrupt team camaraderie and prove he didn’t deserve a second chance.

Arizona: (1) Salim Stoudamire will assume the role of a destructive team leader, selfishly pouting more often than he unselfishly inspires. But no other player will step up and take control of the ‘Cats fortunes. (2) Mustafa Shakur will pursue his dreams of an NBA career during the NCAA season. Rather than focusing on directing the Arizona offense, he’ll try to impress scouts and hangers-on with flashy passes and frequent shots. (3) Channing Frye will lack the bulk to be a dominating college big man.


more well

wishes. This time for Connecticut's A.J. Price.


Today's Must Read

More than you ever wanted to know about the "Pace Factor, Defensive Efficiency, Offensive Efficiency and Points per Shot Attempt."

John Brumbaugh's column provides (a lot of) data to support what we already knew; the Pac-10 was miserable last season.

Other extrapolations from John's number-crunching:

-- Boston College performed better than expected last year
-- Colorado may not be a bubble team this season (as I had earlier suggested)
-- Stanford deserved our love and attention while undefeated
-- Vanderbilt was quite lucky in 2003-2004
-- Maryland struggled more than was perceived without big-name stars

John’s most interesting conclusion?

When people talk about Big Ten Conference basketball, they talk about solid defense. The traditional statistics definitely bear this out as the teams within the Big Ten are routinely on the top of the points against statistics. What the defensive efficiency numbers are here to show is that while teams may not score a lot against Big Ten defenses, it is more of an effect of game pace than actual defense, at least in the 2003-2004 season.

Only Illinois, Purdue, and Wisconsin allowed less than one point per possession when they were on the defensive side of the ball. The other eight teams in the conference all allowed more than one point per possession, the sign of a poor defensive team.

Today's must read.


Monday, October 04, 2004

Place

Herb Sendek put Top 100 prospect J.P. Prince in his. Courtesy Thad Mumau.

J.P. Prince reportedly asked the Wolfpack coaching staff for a guarantee of playing time as a freshman. A source close to the Pack hoops program said Prince wanted a promise of at least 20 minutes a game next year, which will be his rookie college season. N.C. State coach Herb Sendek apparently told him good luck, wherever he ends up playing.

Props to Sendek for not acquiescing to J.P.'s demands. A couple seasons ago, however, before Herb had worked himself off of the hot seat, he might have been unable to say no. But as a result of recent success, North Carolina State can afford to be more selective.


well

wishes.


Strange (but true)

to see DePaul's official athletic website begin its description of Coach Dave Leitao as follows:

Making people feel good about DePaul Basketball again was one of the first goals of Dave Leitao when he took over the reins of [the] Blue Demon program on April 17, 2002...

After a couple solid seasons, consider it done.


Without Further Ado

Not so stylish.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the recently released logo for the 2006 Final Four in Indianapolis. Contain your enthusiasm, please.


Don't look now

but "Bruiser-Ball" is succeeding at Drexel. Courtesy of a 51-37 record over three seasons and two straight postseason appearances, Flint was this summer given a multi-year extension. Good for him.


Don't believe

the hype.

Even Rashaun Freeman and Massachusetts' four other returning starters won't be enough to overcome the aura of mediocrity that has enveloped Amherst since Steve Lappas assumed head coaching responsibilities.

Once upon a time, the Minutemen refused to lose. Today I refuse to believe. Pourquoi? Try 34-53, Lappas' record over three years time.


BMOC

Today Jon Brockman will make it official. Washington rather than Duke will enjoy his services next fall. Following Brockman's example, look for other Seattle-area recruits to stay close to home. Consequently, Washington will soon establish itself as a tourney regular.

UW coach Lorenzo Romar has repeated over and over that it would take just one nationally recruited player with local roots to fully legitimize his program, and Brockman qualifies there...The Snohomish big man is a top-30 player or better. As a junior, he averaged 23 points and 13 rebounds per game and was an all-state selection. The fact alone that Duke went to great lengths to get a commitment, with Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski visiting the Pacific Northwest a few weeks back, stamped him as a high priority.

For more than two decades, nationally recruited players from Seattle have left in droves for higher profile programs, with ESPN-TV serving as a natural recruiting conduit by airing an overabundance of ACC and Big East games into local teenagers' homes, making bold steps easier to take...Nearly two dozen players with top-level credentials went elsewhere, among them future NBA players in Franklin guard Jason Terry (Arizona), Rainier Beach guard Jamal Crawford (Michigan), Federal Way swingman Donny Marshall (Connecticut), Federal Way swingman Michael Dickerson (Arizona) and Kamiakin forward Scot Pollard (Kansas).

Brockman, however, is staying home, possibly starting a new trend.


Martell Webster, the 6'7" forward who is the subject of a John McNight report in the latest issue of ESPN Magazine, is the lone remaining Seattle-area stud who has yet to commit to an institution of higher learning.

Webster may or may not take advantage of the scholarship that became available when Anthony Washington chose to transfer. But you can be sure that Brockman's decision will make Martell think long and hard before deciding against the Huskies.



Pardon the Interruption

But isn't it past time for Providence to have completed their basketball schedule? According to the "projo," the Friars continue to search for a non-conference opponent to play between December 26th and January 7th.


They Said It

"Where else does a 50-year-old man chase a 17-year-old athlete? That's called pimpin' and hookin'. I hate it."
-- Former Lousiana State coach Dale Brown, on college basketball recruiting


Sunday, October 03, 2004

Thank You

to ESPN and Dick Vitale. (There, I wrote it). Via the Buffalo News:

A few months before ESPN's 1979 debut, the NCAA championship basketball game between Larry Bird's Indiana State team and Magic Johnson's Michigan State Spartans raised the national visibility of college basketball to a new level.

That summer, the Detroit Pistons fired their coach, Dick Vitale. A then ESPN executive, Scotty Connall, liked Vitale's style and soon hired him -- for $175 per game -- to be the network's hyper voice of college basketball.

Vitale wasn't sure he knew what cable television was, but he went along for the ride. "When Scotty said ESPN, I thought that sounded like a disease," Vitale said.

The network in the '80s became the first TV outlet to show early-round games of the NCAA Tournament, inventing the game-to-game whip-around. Competition from ESPN essentially forced CBS in 1990 to begin broadcasting the entire tournament.


What's cooler than being cool?

Not so stylish.
Rick Pitino should think twice before wearing a hat sideways. Particularly while wearing a suit.


A Tough Life

Folks in Lexington have it rough.

Kentucky needs a Final Four run.

It's been since 1998 that the Blue and White spent the final weekend of a college basketball season playing.

By Kentucky's regal standards, that's an eternity.

Will this year's 'Cats win their way to St. Louis? Between upperclassmen Kelenna Azubuike and Chuck Hayes, transfer Patrick Sparks, and "fab four" freshmen Rajon Rondo, Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford and Randolph Morris, Kentucky will have the talent to make a run at the national championship. But because Tubby's team will be young and because club chemistry remains a question mark, Vegas (baby, Vegas!) has the Wildcats as 15-to-1 for the title. A little generous, perhaps, as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets also check in at 15-to-1.


An SI jinx?

Emeka Okafor and Diana Taurasi graced the cover of Sports Illustrated's college basketball preview last year. Both then led their respective clubs to the national championship.

This past season, however, may be an outlier. Consider Alexander Wolff's column, "Unraveling the Jinx." Numbers don't lie.

In investigating virtually all of SI's 2,456 covers, we found 913 "jinxes" -- a demonstrable misfortune or decline in performance following a cover appearance roughly 37.2 percent of the time.