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January 24, 2003 Columns No Comments


by Brian Seymour

I’m very disappointed in Missouri head coach Quin Snyder. Reinstating suspended guard Ricky Clemons is absolutely the wrong move, especially after the junior only missed one game after being arrested for allegedly physically assaulting a woman last week.

The timing is very fishy, coming after the Tigers had lost two straight games, including the one game Clemons was inactive for, to Oklahoma State.

It’s a delicate situation to be sure. Snyder has to balance being fair to Clemons against how the issue plays out among the whole campus and the whole college basketball community. But my take is this — if a player on my team is charged with a felony, I have to suspend him until the charges are dropped, reduced to a misdemeanor or until the legal system takes its course.

How does this decision look to female fans of the Tigers? That it’s OK to assault women as long as you can score 10 points a night and keep the team from falling to the middle of the conference standings? And if Clemons had been sitting on the end of the bench instead of major contributor, would he have been brought back so quickly? Snyder has opened himself up to those kinds of questions.

At the very least, Clemons should have been suspended until his initial court (the other kind) appearance on Jan. 29. If the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor at that point, then reinstating Clemons wouldn’t look so desperate and motivated by Missouri’s place in the Big 12 standings.

A very, very classless move by the young Missouri coach.

• As if we needed any more prove that the RPI rankings are junk, did anyone notice the top team in the land, according to the computers? How about Georgia and its 10-4 record. No offense to the Bulldogs, a very underrated team, but not the best team in the country and probably not even one of the three best teams in their own conference.

RPI defenders will say that it’s too early in the season to make judgments on the standings because teams haven’t played enough games, but how many games are enough? If 15 isn’t, then why is 27 enough?

The major failing of the RPI is that is doesn’t take into account factors that humans can account for. It doesn’t take into account a team forced to play two games in 36 hours, while its opponent had the whole week off, rivalries, road games that are tougher than other road games (every conference has at least one or two places that are hell to play at), injuries to key players earlier in the season that might have healed by the end of the season.

Meanwhile, thanks to the “wisdom” of the NCAA Tournament selection committee, we get teams with losing conference records in the field while deserving teams whose RPI is about 10 spots lower sit home. Hopefully, one day common sense will rule, rather than the computers.

• It’s been noted by a couple of other Hoopville writers, but kudos to Butler guard Darnell Archey, whose streak of 85 consecutive free throws ended last weekend. Free throw shooting is a lost art among today’s young players unfortunately, but few things are as important to a team’s win-loss record, especially if you can make the freebies down the stretch.

• Looking for perhaps the most underrated big man in the country? Check out Central Michigan’s Chris Kaman. The 7-footer is averaging over 20 points and 11 rebounds a game and leaving opposing coaches in the Mid-American Conference to mutter things like “NBA lottery pick” under their breath. His 30-point, 21-rebound performance against Michigan is looking more and more impressive as the Wolverines continues to roll.

Meanwhile, Kaman has led the Chippewas to a 12-3 record and five straight conference wins. Teams trying to double or triple him up leave the Central sharpshooters open for easy three-pointers. His passing skills are remarkable for a big man, though he still needs to refine his game a little before the big leagues. Few teams in the nation have a better inside-outside game than Central right now.

• The poll voters will punish No. 10 Creighton for losing to Evansville, but there’s little shame in losing on the road to the Purple Aces. The Bluejays were never going to make it through the tough Missouri Valley regular season undefeated anyway. The sooner folks realize how hard it is to win on the road even in the Mid-Major conferences, the better off we’ll all be.

• Ditto for Butler’s loss Thursday at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The Bulldogs are still in my Top 25.

• One man’s opinion — the toughest thing to watch so far this season has been the plight of Western Kentucky’s Chris Marcus. It’s brutal to see a guy who did the right thing and came back for his senior season get punished for that decision. His NBA status is plummeting (though he’ll still be drafted) as he struggles to recover from his injuries.

• Memo to the folks in Springfield, Mass. — now would be a great time to correct a major oversight and induct Mount St. Mary’s coach Jim Phelan into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The guy should get in for longevity alone, forget about the impact he’s had on a half-century of young men or all the games he’s won at all levels of college basketball.

• Finally, since the season is half over and I’ve seen enough games to make this determination, I’m going to let you all in on my pick to win it all in March.

The NCAA champion will be…Oklahoma.


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