It remains to be seen just how much of an exodus there is from Kentucky’s absolutely loaded roster this year, and last year proved there could be more mystery to that than some might think.
Despite being the school so often identified with “one-and-dones,” the fact is a lot of Kentucky players who were anticipated to be one-year players last year stuck around for at least one more season, a big part of just why this year’s Wildcat team was so loaded. Head coach John Calipari has already predicted that as many as 6-7 of his players could be gone this year, but before the 2013-14 season he also thought the same number would go pro last year.
The first two departures from the Wildcats were reported on Wednesday as word leaked that twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison are expected to enter the NBA Draft. Ironically, the Harrisons may be considered lesser NBA prospects than a number of their UK teammates, but both did show a propensity for hitting clutch shots in college and were part of teams that were undoubtedly tough and made winning plays when it counted. Considering they were two of the players rumored to be out after one year, this is not a surprise.
Also declaring for the draft on Tuesday was North Carolina’s J.P. Tokoto. The 6-foot-6 junior came to UNC highly touted but was nowhere near a college star, an excellent defender who was not good offensively, save for some explosive dunks. If there is a possibility that this is a good move, though, it would be in someone’s belief that the athletic Tokoto will be better fitted to the NBA.
- Hawaii has tabbed St. Mary’s assistant Eran Ganot as its new coach. Ganot has been an assistant for Randy Bennett at SMC since 2011 and is a former Hawaii assistant. Interesting that the job did not go to Benjy Taylor, who did a nice job with the Rainbow Warriors this year on an interim basis, leading the team to a 22-13 record. The school hasn’t addressed it, but perhaps some of the reasoning for not keeping Taylor may have been rumored drug use by the team. Hawaii already is the subject of a current NCAA investigation and received a notice of allegations in January, and the school has a new athletic director coming later this month in David Matlin, who made the call on the hire.
- Reports are that Buffalo coach and Duke icon Bobby Hurley is a serious candidate for the Arizona State job. It seems pretty clear based on the number of jobs he’s been discussed for that Hurley is searching to move up in the coaching world. He has the right to do whatever he wants, though his loss after just two years would be unfortunate for Buffalo. The Bulls’ rapid progress under Hurley, though, certainly indicates he’s capable of big things in the profession.
- St. John’s has already picked up its first transfer under Chris Mullin, as former Tennessee forward Tariq Owens announced he will be joining the Red Storm. Owens averaged just over a point per game this year but is 6-10. He also is almost certainly not the last transfer going to SJU.
- A number of transfers were announced or reported on Wednesday. Among them: Shaqquan Aaron from Louisville, Manu Lecomte and Deandre Burnett from Miami (Fla.), Jaron Hopkins from Colorado and Nigel Johnson from Kansas State. The latter four in particular all were significant contributors on their teams.
- The saga surrounding a controversial replay review in the national championship game continued on Wednesday, as NCAA V.P. Dan Gavitt disputed what was said by coordinator of officials John Adams the day before and said that officials did in fact have access to the same replay angles as TV did.
According to an Associated Press story, Gavitt seemed to feel the officials should have taken even more time to wait for further replays, instead of cutting their review after the allotted two minutes were up. Except that’s not what the rules are; the rules are that officials have two minutes to review. In that regard, officials did their job correctly. Gavitt would prefer replays take as long as needed to get a call right, but that’s asking too much of fans who are already being worn out by the slog that is the end of games. It’s also disingenuous for anyone to advocate for that and then at the same time complain about the sport being too slow-paced, because replay is a considerable part of the problem with the game’s pace. The bottom line is: replay is broken. Maybe it was never in one piece to begin with. Clearly there are disagreements on the best way to implement replay, and until the sport’s decision makers can square this away, from this view it’s best to just get rid of it or used only on an experimental basis until it can be done in a way that minimally affects the flow of games.
- Dallas Mavericks owner Marc Cuban is the latest to shoot off about the “horrible” state of college basketball. “It’s worse than high school,” said Cuban. “You’ve got 20 to 25 seconds of passing on the perimeter and then somebody goes and tries to make a play and do something stupid, and scoring’s gone down.” Cuban also went on to trash college officiating and, even, the choice of schools to choose which brand of ball they use.
Cuban is a smart guy who often makes good points, but a couple thoughts: 1) If 20-25 seconds of passing is bad before taking a bad shot, how is 15-20 seconds (or less) before taking a similar bad shot somehow better? Once again, what does the shot clock’s length have to do with the quality of teams’ play? 2) Cuban’s thoughts need to be taken with a grain of salt, maybe even a salt lick block. He spoke of how college basketball is “hurting the NBA,” but it’s not college basketball’s job to worry about the pro game. Two entirely separate sports, and they should be treated as such.
- Finally, more tough news in the sport as former Marquette star Marc Marotta passed away on Wednesday at the age of 52 due to an apparent heart attack. Marotta played for the then-Warriors from 1980-84 and scored just under 1,000 points and led the team in rebounding twice while also receiving Academic All-American honors three times. Marotta also was a very successful and influential businessman in Milwaukee who was well-known in the community.