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2014-15 WAC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 3, 2015 in Columns, Conference Notes
wac

There’s really no way around it; there is a perceived gap between New Mexico State and everyone else in the Western Athletic Conference, and that gap was quite real in the 2014-15 season.

The lone link between the WAC’s former days as a solid top 15 basketball conference and its current location near the bottom of NCAA Division I, the Aggies dominated the league, winning the regular season title by five games and eventually nabbing their fourth consecutive WAC tourney title and NCAA Tournament bid. NMSU lost just once in WAC play and outscored league opponents by an average of 14.2 points, winning 13 straight games entering the NCAA Tournament.

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The Morning Dish – Sunday, January 4, 2015

by - Published January 4, 2015 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

The unbeaten toppled over one-by-one on Saturday.

We started the day with six, but ended it with three, and nearly less than that. Villanova went down at 2:30 p.m. TCU was gone by 6 p.m. Colorado State dropped at 10 p.m. Two hours before that, Virginia looked for the world like it was going to join the list until some heroics by Justin Anderson and some poor clock management by Miami.

Welcome to conference play.
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The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 29, 2014

by - Published December 28, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

The Kentucky hype wagon, already rolling along at NASCAR-like speeds, will only gain even more momentum after yesterday.

Whereas that wagon was humming at, say, Bristol Motor Speedway speeds before, though, it now is flying along at a Daytona-like pace after the Wildcats’ 58-50 win over Louisville Saturday afternoon.

And truthfully, why wouldn’t it be? Kentucky has beaten all comers this year, frequently in impressive fashion. In this one, UK held the Cardinals to 25.9% shooting and was so good that Louisville finished with one assist. One. In a road game against a bitter rival and top five team that has blown out almost everyone it faced.

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Scanning the Nation Notebook – Dec. 24, 2014

by - Published December 24, 2014 in Columns
glatczak

On Christmas Eve, we share some weekly thoughts from following the nation in college basketball:

  • West Virginia’s turnaround this year has been a joy to watch and, at the risk of falling into the type of coach worship you hear so often on TV, also is a tribute to just how good a coach Bob Huggins is. After a couple mediocre seasons, this year’s Mountaineers look distinctly more like Huggins’ former Cincinnati teams with their running, pressing, scrambling and hustling all over the floor. Huggins has drawn on his vast experience in getting this team to play a different way than it has the past couple years, and the result has been an 11-1 record and a number of impressive wins, the most recent being a dismantling of a darn good Wofford team that just beat North Carolina State a week earlier. WVU entered Monday leading the nation in turnover margin, steals and offensive rebounds-categories all partially or completely related to hustle and playing hard. The Mountaineers do that all the time.

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The Morning Dish – Sunday, December 7, 2014

by - Published December 7, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-cyan

The independents are dead. Long live the independents.

Whereas once independents were far more than an exception in college basketball, the ranks have dwindled in recent years to near extinction, as well documented for some time.

The lone independent the last couple years has been New Jersey Institute of Technology, New Jersey Tech, NJIT. By any name, it has one of those perfectly obscure independent names, carrying on the tradition of indies of the past like Brooklyn College, Utica and U.S. International. As the lone independent left, though, it’s sometimes hard for the Highlanders to get so much as a mention in preseason annuals, much less a real chance at postseason glory.

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The Morning Dish – Sunday, November 23, 2014

by - Published November 23, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

The weekend has featured several instances of something we don’t see often: BCS conference (or Group of Five, or whatever term you want to use) teams taking to the road against good non-BCS teams.

In the past two days, four teams that went to the NCAA Tournament last year went on the road to face non-BCS teams. For those who have paid attention to this sort of thing over the years, the results of these games were not surprising.

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The Morning Dish – Friday, November 14, 2014

by - Published November 14, 2014 in The Morning Dish
hoopguy-orange

Today’s the day we’ve been waiting for, the college basketball season opener.

With that as a backdrop, we look at a few things we’re looking to see this weekend, and really in the first month of the season, as well as a preview of some of the top games tonight:

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2013-14 WAC Post-Mortem

by - Published May 28, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
wac

The Western Athletic Conference still has a pulse. It faces a long, long rehabilitation period to stability, but at least a few positive signs were visible in 2013-14.

As expected, the WAC struggled overall, with just two schools finishing with winning records. New Mexico State, the lone heavyweight left from prior days of prosperity, scored the league’s three biggest wins (at New Mexico, plus a sweep of UTEP) and, in fact, the WAC’s only three top 100 RPI wins. And, sure enough, the Aggies also won the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, just as expected before the season.

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CBS’ Doyel has the guts to step back from the controversy trap

by - Published December 20, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

Good journalism isn’t easy.

That’s especially true when a juicy story comes along that’s sure to rile up the masses, generating lots of readers and charged opinions. Those stories force editors and reporters to make critical decisions about the validity of sources and effort required to seek comment from an opposing side.

In the emerging brouhaha about the transfer of Todd O’Brien from Saint Joseph’s to UAB, we have an awful lot of information spewing from the O’Brien side and almost nothing from the Hawks’ side.

If you missed the background, Sports Illustrated’s website ran a lengthy column by O’Brien, who outlined his journey through college basketball, which has landed him at UAB as a graduated senior with one remaining year of eligibility. However, before O’Brien can play for the Blazers, Saint Joseph’s must grant him a full release from his scholarship. And supposedly coach Phil Martelli refuses to do so. Without that release, O’Brien won’t play college hoops again.

Frankly, it’s hard to imagine a legitimate reason for not letting a guy play, especially for a team in a different conference and not on the Hawks’ schedule. But that’s not the point.

As the media outcry has sided with O’Brien — who is seeking legal recourse to force his way onto the court — only a handful of commentators have taken a measured approach to this story. So I tip my hat to CBS Sports’ Gregg Doyel, a man with plenty of strong opinions, for leaping into the fray waiving a gigantic caution flag.

While everyone is crying foul, Doyel cried, “Wait!” He rightfully observed that Saint Joseph’s is remaining mum because they are respecting student-athletes’ privacy. The bottom line is we don’t know the Saint Joseph’s side of the story, and we might not for some time. So it’s presumptuous at best and flat-out wrong at worst to side with the supposed victim in this story.

Of course, it’s far less engaging to remain on the fence when others are going all in and calling for Martelli’s ouster. That bloodlust is unhealthy and not reflective of this country’s innocent-until-PROVEN-guilty judicial system. If mob rule dictated justice, we’d have a lot of major mistakes to apologize for whenever we learned the truth — if we ever learned the truth.

A good journalist’s duty is to present clear, accurate and precise information. Commentators who espouse opinions based on incomplete information aren’t doing anyone any good. As unsexy as it may be, we all need to follow Doyel’s lead and wait and see. Let the established rules play out in the NCAA, and if the courts get involved, let the state and local laws as interpreted by the courts decide the matter.

But there’s no need to call for Martelli’s head on a platter until there’s substantiated evidence that he acted like a callous, vindictive control freak.

We go coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

Kentucky had no problems getting past Samford, 82-50, even without Terrence Jones, who missed the game to recuperate from a dislocated pinky, writes the Associated Press’ Colin Fly.

California will be without one its big men this week as sophomore Richard Solomon recovers from a left foot injury, writes Diamond Leung for ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog. The sophomore forward is one of the team’s best rebounders, averaging 6.9 rpg, and he’ll miss at least the team’s games against UNLV Dec. 23.

Miami will get back DeQuan Jones, who figured to play a bigger role for the Hurricanes this season — if for no other reason than he’s one of the bigger players on the teams. Jones missed the first month and a half of the season because the school suspended him for the season while the NCAA investigated his possible involvement in the recruiting scandal that has rocked the university. However, according to an Associated Press report, the Hurricanes have reversed that decision, and Jones could be back in the lineup as early as this week.

Some tech-savvy pranksters punked Oregon’s website Sunday night and Monday morning, writes the Washington Post’s Steve Yanda, and the hackers posted some disparaging comments about Virginia that were attributed to Oregon coach Dana Altman. The Ducks lost to the Cavaliers 67-54, and the hacker made up comments ranging from Mike Scott’s hair to the Ducks’ pregame meal. Oregon apologized to the Cavaliers for the malfeasance.

New Mexico State is bringing suspended guard Christian Kabongo back into the fold after the sophomore had been suspended for two games for making obscene gestures in a game against UTEP, writes ESPN.com’s Diamond Leung for the “College Basketball Nation” blog.

NCAA Division I programs couldn’t get enough support to overturn a rule that bans universities from hosting high school prep tournaments, according to an Associated Press report.

Houston boosters might have lost as much as 40 percent of their investments in the David Salinas Ponzi scheme affair, according to the Associated Press. Salinas committed suicide last year, a few weeks before the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit that detailed the deceptive investments and behavior that swindled a bunch of Division I programs and coaches.

The NCAA’s $2,000 hot mess

by - Published December 15, 2011 in Full Court Sprints

We go coast to coast with other news from the college basketball nation

The NCAA is entering new levels of ridiculous mismanagement. The Associated Press reports that the NCAA might reconsider giving new scholarship student-athletes a $2,000 stipend, though it would have to allow players who have already signed letters of intent to receive the extra cash while banning those who sign later.

Ohio State superstar Jared Sullinger is still hurting from recurring back spasms, and coach Thad Matta didn’t want to say when Sullinger will be back in the lineup for the Buckeyes, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report. But Sullinger answered that question Wednesday night when the Buckeyes beat down USC Upstate 82-58 and Sullinger played 24 minutes and got 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Nobody will face criminal charges in the Xavier/Cincinnati brawl, the Associated Press reports. Joe Deters, a Hamilton County, Ohio, prosecutor, looked into the matter, deciding not to pursue charges against anyone. One of the factors was Xavier center Kenny Frease’s satisfaction with an apology from Cincinnati’s Yancy Gates, who decked Frease in the head during the debacle.

Seton Hall will gain some more depth this weekend with the return of freshman Brandon Mobley, who had been out with a dislocated shoulder and torn labrum since the summer, according to the Associated Press.

Don’t skip your court appearances. Nothing good can happen. Just ask Kansas’ Ben McLemore. The freshman is under arrest after skipping a Dec. 6 court appearance for a citation related to underage alcohol possession, according to a CBS Sports.com wire report.

Also on the list of bad behavior is taunting fans by grabbing your crotch. New Mexico State sophomore Christian Kabongo did that, and now he’s suspended, writes Diamond Leung for ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nation” blog.

Syracuse still has Melo — Fab Melo that is. If you thought I was talking about Carmelo Anthony, well, I kinda was. The NBA star who led the Cuse to a championship is convinced that Melo 2.0 and the rest of the crew have the talent to win another championship for the first time since 2003.

I’m not gonna lie — I love the fan experience. And if you tell me that a team in California’s tradition is to throw tortillas when a victory is in hand, I find it amusing. I mean, a flying tortilla — presumably uncooked soft tortilla — won’t hurt anyone. Except when your team is only up two and the officials consider giving the home crowd a technical. Yep, that’s how UC-Santa Barbara’s 65-61 win against San Diego went down, writes Diamond Leung for ESPN.com. When the fans started tossing tortillas, the officials considered tossing out a T. They opted to go with a public announcement that any more thrown items would produce two free throws for the Toreros. The fans settled down, and the Gauchos won.

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