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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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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

the gang of 500

-- Both the Louisville Courier-Journal and WTVQ Channel 36 this morning reported that freshman guard Joe Crawford yesterday expressed his desire to transfer from Kentucky. The McDonald's All-American would be welcome at any university in America. My suggestion? Connecticut. After yesterday's loss to Oklahoma, it is apparent that Jim Calhoun's club is a guard removed from the Top 25.

-- Jim Boeheim became the first coach with 300 Big East victories. He gets my vote for the Hall of Fame.

-- Jeff Shelman, of ESPN.com and Minneapolis Star Tribune fame, cast a Top 10 vote for Boston College in the AP poll. In a move that portends a bright future -- and post-season present? -- for UCLA, Shelman also ranked the Bruins 22nd.

-- Eli Saslow of the Washington Post has a lengthy must-read on Joe "how the mighty have fallen" Forte. Will the former UNC star rise again? Hard to tell. But, at the bare minimum, he sounds more mature in his interview with Saslow.

-- Vahe Gregorian of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch paints JamesOn Curry in a positive light, all but suggesting his drug arrest was a blessing for the Oklahoma State guard. Kindly personal, the article eschews college basketball rhetoric in favor of a substantive view of Curry and his family.

-- Crediting coach with Kansas' toughness, Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post affirms that the Gang of 500 is quite fond of Bill Self.

-- As they are of Larry Eustachy, whose feel-good turn-around story -- both personal (alcoholism) and professional (USM) -- provides easy ink for beat writers. See, for example, Eric Crawford's piece in the Louisville Courier-Journal previewing the Southern Miss - Kentucky game. (I hope to watch).

-- Jeff Pinkham of the Burlington (VT) Free Press notes that UVM (57) is ranked higher in the RPI than Maryland (59), Miami (60), Indiana (62), Utah (63), Florida (66), Texas Tech (69) and Notre Dame (71).

-- John Wagner of the Toledo Blade interviews a proud but cautious Dan Dakich about his 9-2 Bowling Green State University Falcons. An impressive start, but my money remains on BGSU to play their way into the NIT rather than the NCAA Tournament.

-- Brett Hait of the Nashville City Paper writes up Doug Gottlieb's praise for the Vanderbilt Commodores. The media writing about the media. Gotta love it. (Though Gottlieb is right, Vandy has been dandy).

-- Injury Update: Michigan's Chris Hunter and Brent Petway are in worse condition than originally thought. Tommy Amaker can't catch a break. Florida's Matt Walsh will be a shell of his former self if he returns for the end of this season, or so says Billy Donovan. A bad break for a bad coach.

-- J.P. Giglio of the Raleigh News & Observer notes Mike Krzyzewski is "encouraged" by the NCAA's response to National Association of Basketball Coaches proposals for recruiting reform, even as Division I vice-president David Berst points to "a trust gap" between the NCAA and the NABC.

The Division I Management Council refused to allow coaches to give players limited extra benefits. For example, coaches were suggesting that programs be allowed to buy birthday or wedding gifts (up to $50) for their players; pay for parents' tickets and parking to home games; and pay for an annual parents' trip to a special game, such as senior night or the NCAA Tournament.

Berst said the council couldn't see giving that kind of freedom to one sport and not others. But other proposals were forwarded for further consideration by the management council April 11-12. The items would have to pass a second time with the council before the Division I Board of Directors takes a final vote on April 28.

Items that will get further consideration are: allowing greater contact between a coach and a prospect who has signed, permitting coaches more contact with the athletes year-round, allowing coaches to observe players in voluntary athletic activities outside the playing season, and letting schools conduct limited tryouts with recruits.

I'm with the NABC. All the proposed changes (detailed in the excerpt above) make sense. And while I'm sympathetic to a "slippery slope" argument regarding "limited extra benefits," I find the NCAA's restrictions a bit much. Because there is a huge difference between easily verifiable perks for parents and murky and dangerous gifts to student-athletes.

-- Hawkeye Nation is losing it. See, for example, here and here. I'm of the opinion that Iowa was never as good as the school's Top 15 ranking and not as bad as current critics would have you believe after an 0-2 start in conference play.