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Globetrotters’ Basketball Soul Outshines Rash of Rough News

by - Published April 15, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

BASELINE TO BASELINE

Go coast to coast with a round up of the nation’s top stories.

1. Although Phil Jackson seems pretty convinced that there won’t be a next season for the NBA next season, several college players are gambling that they’ll still be making NBA money within a few months. Here are a few of the players who announced during the past few days that they’ll be entering the NBA Draft.

2. ESPN.com’s Andy Katz breaks down the NCAA Legislative Committee’s proposal to move up the deadline for declaring for the draft. If the Board of Directors approves the measure, players will need to decide by April 10 whether they intend to declare for the draft — and they can’t turn back. It essentially ends the test-the-waters approach, which isn’t good for the kids, Katz writes.

3. One player who won’t be testing the waters this season is Baylor’s Perry Jones, ESPN.com’s Andy Katz writes. Somewhat surprisingly, Jones will return to the Bears, who had a disappointing season but will return a start-studded team, anchored by Jones.

4. Despite the uproar about the early entry deadline, that’s small change compared to the fiasco in San Diego. The Associated Press reported this week that the FBI is investigating former members of the Toreros program for running a sports betting business, and 10 people have been charged in the case, including the team’s all-time leading scorer, Brandon Johnson. In addition to Johnson, former player Brandon Dowdy is accused of fixing games.

5. Jorts-mania could be coming to a town near you. Kentucky’s Josh Harrellson will be launching a Jorts Tour — after his now-famous nickname — to sign autographs and hawk his clothing line, according to Diamond Leung of ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog.

6. As Nebraska prepares to move to the Big 10 next season, the Huskers have reworked coach Doc Sadler’s deal to pay him an extra $100,000 per year, making his salary $900,000 per year through 2015-16, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report.

7. One of Nebraska’s former Big 12 rivals, Iowa State, is dealing with some drama after police arrested freshman center Jordan Railey for punching a man late Wednesday night along a hot spot for Ames restaurants and bars, according to the Associated Press. Coach Fred Hoiberg has suspended Railey while gathering more information about the incident.

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Man, what a rough week for news in the world of college basketball.

Several players landed in trouble with the law (Nebraska, Florida). An NBA-minded freshman skipped his team’s season-closing banquet to work out in Vegas (Kansas). And speaking of Sin City, the gambling bug apparently migrated south to San Diego, where the very integrity of the game is in question after the FBI unearthed a supposed sports business ring that included former Torero players who are accused of fixing games.

And just to pile on, the NCAA looks pretty selfish and uninterested in the welfare of student-athletes after moving forward with a proposal to give players until about a week after the championship game to decide whether they want to return to school or enter the NBA Draft. Needing only an affirmative vote by the NCAA’s Board of Directors to become official, the proposal applies tortured logic that benefits schools and coaches but not players. And the players already are limited because the NCAA won’t let them profit from their name or likeness in commercial products, such as video games. However, the NCAA is happy to take its cut from those sales.

That’s enough to get you pretty down about the game.

Thankfully, I watched the Harlem Globetrotters play tonight on ESPN. And that evaporated my creeping cynicism. The figure-eight weaves, between-the-legs passes and crowd-pleasing interludes don’t look like traditional basketball. All those fancy moves make for great entertainment, and everyone in the arena is having fun — even the tough-luck Generals.

Basketball is supposed to be fun. Yes, the game can be a means to a career — and a small fortune — for the most talented players. But for the 99 percent of players who don’t come within sniffing distance of an NBA pay check, the game needs to be fun. If it’s not, why play? The Globetrotters take fun to an extreme, but they embody the soul of the game.

Despite the spate of bad news, the game goes on. By November, optimism will be the mood du jour as nearly 350 Division I teams embark on the journey toward a 2012 championship. And with any luck, most of them will have plenty of fun along the way.

Stable Tar Heels, Seminoles Have Good Reason for Optimism

by - Published April 11, 2011 in Columns

If roster and coaching stability means anything, fans in Tallahassee and Chapel Hill should be optimistic about the 2011-12 season.

Florida State and North Carolina figure to return at least 70 percent of their scoring from this year, and they have tenured ACC coaches at the helm. However, each team has a question mark that could decide whether the Seminoles and Tar Heels become stalwarts of the top 10 or bounce around the Top 25 polls. … Continue Reading

ACC Player Rankings 2.0

by - Published December 26, 2010 in Columns

Within two weeks, the ACC will enter the grind of the conference schedule. Florida State enters conference play as a favorite to finish near the top, and a recently improved offense will be critical to making that happen.

The rise of Florida State’s offense has coincided with a dip in the impact of the Se♦minoles’ best player: Chris Singleton. In the first eight games, only two opponents cracked 60 points, and Singleton ranked as one of the best forwards in the conference with a Total Impact Quotient of 18.1 points. Three weeks later, Singleton’s TIQ has dipped by more than three points, but Florida State has scored more than 70 points in all six games after failing to do so in the previous three. … Continue Reading

Florida State Sets the Mark for Defensive Domination

by - Published December 9, 2010 in Conference Notes

It’s final exam time in Tallahassee, as Florida State takes the week off before opening ACC play against Clemson Dec. 12.

The Seminoles already have one grade in for the semester: an A+ in Epic Defensive Mastery.

At 6-2, Florida State appears to be a legitimate contender for a top-third finish in the ACC this season. But the team’s success will hinge almost entirely on a defense that is historically good. According to Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings, Florida State is No. 1 so far, allowing only 0.819 points per possession. If the Seminoles can maintain that pace, Florida State would have the most efficient defense in the nine-year history of Pomeroy’s statistics.

That feat is more impressive when considering that Florida State lost its defensive centerpiece last season when Solomon Alabi took his 2.3 blocks and 6.2 rebounds per game to the NBA. In his place, junior Chris Singleton has emerged as possibly the most dominant defensive player in the country. He has nearly doubled his blocks per game to 2.8 and is sixth in the nation with 3.3 steals per game. Singleton aggressively seeks loose balls, too, collecting 9.4 rebounds per game.

Although Singleton is only an average shooter (44.3 percent from the field), he offers the total package. Singleton’s production has yielded a Total Impact Quotient of 18.1, good for fourth among ACC forwards. But he has played at least two-thirds more minutes than any of the forwards ranked ahead of him.

Through the first eight games, Singleton has helped Florida State hold six opponents to less than 60 points. That’s even more impressive when you consider that the Seminoles don’t slow down the game. According to Pomeroy’s stats, Florida State plays the No. 62 — out of 345 teams — fastest tempo in Division I. The math doesn’t lie: Florida State is one great defensive squad.

Now it’s obviously way too early to crown Florida State with anything. The Seminoles have dominated opponents whose sum offensive firepower ranks No. 205 in Pomeroy’s stats. Let’s see how the Seminoles fare against ACC opponents, starting with the Tigers this weekend.

With Singleton leading the opponent oppression, there’s a good chance that Florida State remains near the top of defensive rankings all season, and the Seminoles end up in contention for an NCAA Tournament bid.

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