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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.

Big East Player Rankings 2.0

by - Published December 19, 2010 in Columns

In the first update of the Big East player rankings this season, using the Total Impact Quotient, we find Kemba Walker continuing to play at an outrageously high level, while Pittsburgh is building a team that looks like a champion.

As mentioned in our first rankings for Big East players this season, Walker is on pace to post a better TIQ for guards than anyone did last season. The biggest question is whether he can maintain his hot start. In the past three weeks, Walker has made an even bigger contribution in his total impact in points per 40 minutes, elevating his TIQ by 1.4 points. … Continue Reading

After the Feast

by - Published November 26, 2010 in Full Court Sprints

FULL COURT SPRINTS

BASELINE TO BASELINE

LAST SHOT

Go coast to coast with our roundup of the nation’s top stories.

The Bruce Pearl edition:

  1. News broke early last week that SEC Commish Mike Slive has banned Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl from the Volunteers’ first eight SEC games.
  2. In Jason King’s SEC roundup on YahooSports.com, King writes that the Volunteers are keeping their focus on the court in this time of trouble for their coach.
  3. Pearl’s suspension should be considered within the context of other SEC machinations, writes ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil.
  4. Meanwhile, David beat Goliath in Maui as Chaminade, host of the EA Sports Maui Invitational, upset Oklahoma in the final game of the tournament for both teams.
  5. Chaminade’s upset wasn’t the only event that shook the major conference teams in Maui: A 4.7-magnitude earthquake rattled Kentucky and Washington for five seconds during their second-round match up, according to the Associated Press.
  6. You just don’t want to play Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence. The team won a 63rd consecutive game at home, the longest such streak in school history, according to a CBSSports.com news report.
  7. Division III Skidmore and Southern Vermont go seven overtimes to settle a 128-123 marathon that ties the NCAA record for longest game, according to the Associated Press.
The pre-Thanksgiving holiday tournaments served several excellent appetizers this past week. Here are some of the biggest games.

  • Michigan St. 76, Washington 71
  • Duke 82, Kansas State 68
  • Kentucky 74, Washington 67
  • Kansas State 81, Gonzaga 64
  • UNLV 68, Wisconsin 65
  • Pittsburgh 68, Texas 66

Meanwhile, four teams had some eye-opening wins or losses: Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina and Old Dominion.

  • Connecticut 84, Kentucky 67
  • Connecticut 70, Michigan State 67
  • Old Dominion 67, Xavier 58
  • Old Dominion 61, Clemson 60
  • Vanderbilt 72, North Carolina 65
  • Minnesota 72, North Carolina 67
  • Minnesota 74, West Virginia 70

STUDY SESSION

OPENING TIP

Phil Kasiecki spent a long weekend in New Haven, Conn., for the National Prep Showcase, which — as the event’s name implies — showcased plenty of up-and-coming high school players. Many of those players are destined for top programs, and plenty of others will land with hard-working mid-major teams. Phil wraps up the action from the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Thanksgiving. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge gets under way this week, capped by a battle royale between Duke and Michigan State. Here are some of the tastiest morsels of the next week.

11/26:

  • Tennessee vs. Villanova in New York

11/28:

  • Florida at Florida State

11/30:

  • Ohio State at Florida State
  • Cornell at Syracuse
  • Georgetown at Missouri
  • North Carolina at Illinois
  • Saint Louis at Portland

12/1:

  • Michigan State at Duke
  • Purdue at Virginia Tech
  • Saint Mary’s at San Diego State
  • American at West Virginia
  • Richmond at Old Dominion

12/2:

  • UCLA at Kansas
  • Missouri at Oregon

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Happy Thanksgiving, Hoops Nation!

On this holiday weekend, I’d like to take a moment to give thanks for the privilege of watching great players and great teams in action. In the past week, we have seen a bona fide superstar emerge in Maui, as Connecticut’s Kemba Walker cooked two top 10 teams with a huge serving of 90 points in three games. In Kansas City, better known for barbecue than turkey feasts, Duke devoured all comers, including a resilient Marquette squad and top five Kansas State, which played in front of a partisan crowd.

Last season, Walker battled through a tough season for the Huskies, who missed the NCAA Tournament for only the fifth time since 1990. As a sophomore, he averaged a respectable 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.1 rebounds per game. This season, he has more than doubled that points total through five games, averaging 30.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Although Walker’s assists are down, he isn’t committing as many turnovers this season and actually has a better assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s almost single-handedly dominating games, and he’s lifting holiday hopes in Storrs that this season will see Connecticut return to the top of the Big East standings after a one-season hiatus.

In Durham, Duke fans are already thankful to celebrate Thanksgiving as reigning national champions. With the Blue Devils’ start to this season, there’s reason to be hopeful that they’ll get to do so again next year. Duke dismantled Kansas State 82-68 in Wildcat territory in the CBE Classic. Although team leaders Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith pitched in 28 points on 40 percent shooting, the rest of Duke’s players looked great, tallying 54 points on 55.2 percent shooting. Freshman point guard Kyrie Irving lived up to the hype with 17 points, five rebounds and six assists. If Duke can continue to play balanced basketball, this Blue Devil team genuinely might end up being better than last season’s squad.

It’s early in the season, and we already have plenty of high-quality hoops to celebrate. The holiday season promises to deliver plenty of gifts on the hardwood, setting us up for a fantastic conference season with the turn of the new year.

Coaching Changes and NBA Draft Early Entrants

The coaching carousel is moving. Keep track of the latest coaching changes right here on Hoopville.

Also, keep track of players who have declared early for the NBA Draft.

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Conference Coverage

2013-14 Big Ten Post-Mortem

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2013-14 Sun Belt Post-Mortem

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Membership changes have been happening at quite a pace of late in the Sun Belt, and it was a new member that stole the show for much of this past season and seems poised to lead the way in the future.

2013-14 Big Sky Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

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The teams that have led the way in the Big Sky of late were right there again this season. One of them won both the regular season and conference tournament, and also had a nice time with the post-season awards as well.

2013-14 MEAC Post-Mortem

July 1, 2014 by

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The 2013-14 season was N.C. Central’s year in the MEAC, as the Eagles completed their four-year ascent to the top of conference.

2013-14 Big 12 Post-Mortem

June 30, 2014 by

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When it comes to overall depth, the Big 12 this season may have been one of the strongest leagues in a long time. The conference sent seven of its 10 teams to the NCAA Tournament, the first time in 21 years and just the fifth time ever that a league sent 70% or more of its teams to the tourney.

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