Yes, I know it's only Friday, but my game day
starts tonight at happy hour,
so better to post now,
if you know what I mean.
Yes, I am Crimson.
Mired in a slump that cost him his starting job, Kansas University junior point guard Naadir Tharpe decided it was time for a one-on-one sit-down session with coach Bill Self.
The date was Dec. 11 — a day after the Jayhawks suffered their second straight loss, a 67-61 stinker at Florida that dropped the team’s record to 6-3.
“It was good for us to talk. It showed us a lot about one another and how much we really care about each other,” said Tharpe, who coincidentally regained his starting spot after the meeting. He has led the Jayhawks to six wins in the last seven games, including a 3-0 mark in conference play, heading into Saturday’s 3 p.m. home game against Oklahoma State (15-2, 3-1).
“I didn’t go in there and talk anything about starting. It was more about the team and how things were going with us, what I needed to do more to help him (Self) out and how he could help me out,” added the 5-11, 170-pounder from Worcester, Mass. “Me as a player and him as head coach ... we look at each other the whole time throughout the game, so we had to get a much better understanding for each other.
“(Since then) it’s been great being the guy everybody looks up to — the coach having your back and you having the coach’s back. That’s the most important thing.”
Self, who said he removed Tharpe as starter for the simple reason “Frank (Mason) was playing better,” nonetheless was pleased Tharpe asked for the confab in Self’s office.
Self said Tharpe “probably needed to know I liked him.
“I love the kid. He knows he’s my kind of guy, but I think for a period of time early in the season he wasn’t giving us everything he could. I let him know it. I expect a lot out of him,” Self added. “He was not doing everything he potentially could do. He knows how important he is to this group. I wanted him to make sure he understood that. He didn’t do anything bad. We needed to make sure we were on the same page and he knew what this team needed.”
…“He gets everybody ready. Not a lot of people know that,” said sophomore forward Perry Ellis. “He’s getting us pumped up and ready before every game pretty much.”
It is by design.
“After the Florida game when the whole locker room (was quiet) I was kind of sitting back and not voicing my opinion,” Tharpe said. “I was thinking about what I could do to make myself (better). Being here three years and having all these young guys ... there’s no time to be thinking about you. You have to worry more about how everything is affecting them because they’ve not been through this. I’ve been through this. That’s something else coach and I sat down and talked about. I’m trying to encourage guys as much as I can.”
He’s succeeding in that regard.
“We go as he goes,” freshman off-guard Wayne Selden said, simply.
Self brought up KU’s 86-60 victory over K-State last week as an example of Tharpe leading the team. Though he made just 1 of 7 shots, Tharpe contributed nine assists with no turnovers and, according to Self, controlled the game.
“Those are the things that I like seeing because I don’t think as a point guard you can base your performance on whether the ball goes in or not,” Self said. “You’ve still got to figure out a way to help your team win, and I think he’s doing a pretty good job of that.”
…Self admits it’s only natural for the point guard to draw an amount of criticism that might be unfair. After all, he’s the one in charge of getting the team’s offense started.
“If you have a bad possession late game, whose fault is it? It’s the point guard,” Self said. “I’m not going to blame Joel (Embiid). You threw it to him. It’s the point guard’s fault.
“But also, coaches know that when you have good possessions late and things like that, it’s usually to the point guard’s credit. I think that goes with the territory.”
TCJ Hawk Zone podcast: Preview KU-OSU, Embiid’s future
KUAD: Coach Self’s weekly presser - OSU preview
KUAD: OSU vs KU pregame notes
Bothered by the backflip, fellas?
“What bothered me was that we played like crap, not someone else doing a backflip,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “If we’d have played better, it never would have happened. Things like that don’t bother me.”
…“We had a chance to win that game, and we didn’t do it,” Self said. “And he did do a backflip, and I watched it on tape. I thought it was beautiful form. I thought he tucked just at the right time and got full extension. I thought it was very impressive.”
…Wayne Selden didn’t flip-flop on the backflip question because doing so would require taking a stance. Instead, he said, “No comment.”
…Now for the juicier stuff, Smart’s comments about Wiggins.
Will he use Smart’s remarks as motivation?
“Uh, I wouldn’t really say so,” Wiggins said. “When someone says something, and I don’t really care for the person, it doesn’t influence me or anything like that. It doesn’t really matter what he says, only if it’s like my parents, my family, my friends.”
False. He’ll use it to motivate him.
Hours before the Kansas State game, someone from one of the national sports networks said of K-State’s Marcus Foster, “He might be the best freshman playing in this game.” Wiggins didn’t let Foster breathe all afternoon.
So, I asked Wiggins, when he scored 54 points in a high school game right after a national publication was critical of him, was that just a coincidence?
“Probably,” he said, smiling a swampland salesman’s smile.
When Marcus Smart walked onto the floor in Allen Fieldhouse for the first time, he was in awe of playing in the arena where greats such as Wilt Chamberlain used to roam.
“I was just like, ‘Wow,’ ” Smart recalls. “It was a static situation for me. I ain’t never seen nothing like that. I played in front of some big crowds, but to walk in Allen Fieldhouse and see that many people, it was amazing.”
His walk off of the court was much different.
The buzzer went off, and the only thing heard was emotion from the Oklahoma State bench and the sound of Smart’s feet and hands hitting the hardwood as he did a cartwheel and back flip. KU fans stood speechless trying to comprehend how the unranked Cowboys defeated No. 2 Kansas, 85-80.
“It was like the movie ‘300’; it was us against them,” OSU forward Brian Williams, who was injured for last year’s game, remembers.
“The bench was crazy, everybody was into it. There was a level of focus, also. It wasn’t just us out there doing back flips, like they probably think.”
Oklahoma State returns to Lawrence, Kan., and though this year’s Jayhawk squad isn’t as good, the daunting task of winning in Allen Fieldhouse remains the same.
“They gonna have their crowd rockin’,” Le’Bryan Nash said. “We gonna come in there with the same attitude we had last year.
Williams admitted — amid all the talk of taking it one game at a time — the team has been looking forward to the showdown with KU.
“They a great ball club,” Williams said. “This is one we have been looking at since the beginning of the season.”
“Time’s flying. I remember the Elijah Johnsons, the Tyshawn Taylors, the Thomas Robinsons, when they were seniors and we were just kind of learning,” Cowboy junior Brian Williams said. “Some of those games got ugly, but we were learning. Now that we’ve learned it, we’re trying to put that out on the court.”
...Freshman center Joel Embiid has been impressing NBA scouts and clearly has the attention of the Cowboys heading into Saturday’s game. The 7-footer from Cameroon is averaging 10.9 points per game, having scored double digits in six of the last seven games, while averaging 7.4 rebounds per game. He is also second in the Big 12 in blocked shots with 41.
“We’ve got to attack him. He’s a good shot blocker, they have big bodies down there, but we can’t back down from them,” Williams said. “... We’ve got to try to make up for it with our athleticism. They are athletic too, but we have to utilize our athleticism to try to neutralize that height advantage - because those are some big kids.”
Doug Gottlieb, a former Oklahoma State point guard, will be in studio when the ninth-ranked Cowboys play at No. 15 Kansas at 3 p.m. Saturday on CBS. Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony will call the game. Gottlieb, 38, is busy this winter hosting a 2-5 p.m. show on the CBS Sports Radio Network, co-hosting “Lead Off” at 11 p.m. weeknights on the CBS Sports Network, broadcasting 30 college basketball games and working weekly in the studio. Here are excerpts from a phone interview in which Gottlieb discussed OSU, Kansas and the Big 12:
What's your impression of the Jayhawks?
The game I called (against San Diego State) was the worst offensive (showing) since Bill Self has been coach at Kansas, statistically in field-goal percentage (29.8). Since then, they have played much better. They are par for the course for a team of freshmen. Freshmen have to learn how to win. I thought that was a heck of a win at Iowa State. I thought they got really good point guard play from Naadir Tharpe, in the way in which he plays point guard. Their flaws are No. 1 their youth, No. 2 they still are not a great shooting team no matter how well they shot against Oklahoma.
Three, they don't have a true point guard, so that is going to make guys have to create their own shots. They are very turnover prone. It's pretty obvious what the plan is for everybody. When one of their post players gets it, you double them and you make them pass and you try to get steals off it. When they drive, you try to muddy up the lane and make them make tough contested shots. It's a very simple game plan but sometimes talent wins out and they do have a lot of talent in (Joel) Embiid and (Andrew) Wiggins.
The Big 12 right now is the best conference in the country, and with apologies to Iowa State, these are the top teams in that league.
Once dogged by questions of what ails them, the Jayhawks are hitting their stride. They have won three in a row, including an absolute drubbing of Kansas State and on the road at Iowa State. Wiggins, who was doing too much alone early in the season, now has plenty of help, much of it coming in the form of fellow lottery pick Joel Embiid.
Meanwhile, the Cowboys have a three-game tear of their own to claim, with Smart averaging 22 over that span.
Aside from the sideshow shenanigans, what makes this game intriguing is that one team’s weakness is really the other’s strength. Kansas’ biggest attribute is its frontcourt, Oklahoma State’s the backcourt.
Naadir Tharpe has to find a way to stop Smart from driving the ball while the Cowboys, sans Cobbins, need Le’Bryan Nash and Kamari Murphy to somehow contain Wiggins, Embiid and Perry Ellis.
And then there is the X factor: Allen Fieldhouse, where Oklahoma State knows it can win and Kansas remembers ...
Embiid has made 69.7 percent of his attempts inside the arc. That would place him among the best NCAA finishers of the past decade and a half. And those raw stats don't consider that Kansas has played the nation's most difficult schedule.
Factoring that in, the history of NCAA-to-NBA translations suggests Embiid's performance is equivalent to making 60 percent of his 2-point attempts in the NBA, which would be incredible for a rookie. (Per Basketball-Reference.com, just five rookies have shot better than 60 percent on 2-pointers in the past decade.)
…Again, back to the raw narrative: He hasn't been playing basketball that long. Learning how to play big and not foul takes time, and Embiid is clearly still feeling things out. He'll have to take another huge leap when he moves from college to the NBA. Surprisingly, most of the NBA guys I talk to, especially the old-timers, really want him to stay another year at Kansas. That's a fairly rare sentiment. Usually, NBA scouts and GMs want players in the draft.
Some of it is selfish (the more players in the draft, the better chances a good player falls to them), and some of it is pragmatic (many in the NBA believe that players pick up bad habits in college and it's better for them to learn the NBA game right away). But for Embiid, they feel like one more year of tutelage under Bill Self could make him unstoppable. I doubt Embiid stays, given the fact he looks like he's a lock for a top-three pick, but it's interesting nonetheless. No one is saying that about Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Dante Exum.
…That said, one of the reasons that Embiid is so attractive as a No. 1 pick is that there just aren't that many special 7-footers who play like a center in the NBA these days. Having someone like that gives your team a huge advantage, and it's ultimately why I think Embiid ends up the favorite to go No. 1. If he reaches his potential, you could make the argument pretty easily that he has the ability to be the best player at his position in the NBA someday. That's certainly a compelling argument to take him No. 1.
ESPN($) Why Joel Embiid is No. 1
Where Wiggins really has the edge over Parker and Randle –- and over almost any player -– is in transition.
Wiggins ranks eighth in the country in transition points per play (1.45) among players with at least 45 such plays this season.
While Wiggins may have a long way to go before becoming the next LeBron James, the numbers show he still might be the best prospect in this freshman class.
ESPN Freshman Math
The discussion: Four of the teams in the top five of the preseason Associated Press poll -- Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Louisville -- have struggled at times this season. Which has the best outlook going forward?
Jeff Goodman: They all have their issues, and that's why they have each struggled at times this season. One common theme is that all four have questionable point guard situations. Quinn Cook is erratic for Duke, and the other three are either newcomers or in new roles: Kansas' Naadir Tharpe is trying to hold on to the job, Chris Jones is a junior college kid who has slid in to replace Peyton Siva, and Andrew Harrison has struggled as a highly touted freshman at Kentucky.
I also worry about Duke due to a lack of size. I worry about Louisville due to a lack of frontcourt depth and no quality wins to this point (the Cards have a chance to earn a good win Saturday against UConn -- 9 p.m. ET, ESPN). Kansas and Kentucky both have upside and should continue to improve as we get into the meat of league play.
I've been somewhat critical of Andrew Wiggins, pointing out that he hasn't played up to the unrealistic expectations some put on him, but he's still capable of exploding (as displayed the other night in a win over Iowa State). Big man Joel Embiid continues to make rapid progress for a guy who has played for only a few years, and he's a tough matchup due to his size and skill level. The "third" freshman, Wayne Selden, showed what he could do with a pair of 20-plus point performances last week, and sophomore Perry Ellis is steady and reliable.
Sure, the Jayhawks have question marks at point guard, but so do the other three teams. This team is talented, is gaining experience and confidence and has one of the elite coaches in the country leading the way in Bill Self. Out of those four teams, I'll take the Jayhawks with the best future for the remainder of this season.
Jay Bilas: All can improve significantly and will have to in order to challenge for a Final Four appearance in Dallas. I expected all to be better at this point in the season, and youth has been an impediment to the development of all, save Louisville. All have issues that can stand in their way late in the season.
Kentucky has nothing but supertalented freshmen and a couple of sophomores and has had a leadership void as a result. The key for Kentucky is the play of Andrew Harrison. The Wildcats need stability at the point of attack and have not gotten that consistently yet. Duke does not have an inside game, struggles to rebound and is not a smart, experienced defensive team with the ability to protect the paint and the rim. Louisville has very good talent, but there are so many new pieces.
I believe Kansas is the team that has the best outlook going forward, but it's a close call. The Jayhawks are the most complete team, with talented big men, very good wings and an experienced point guard. Kansas does not shoot particularly well from deep and needs to take better care of the ball, but the Jayhawks can get the ball inside and are improving defensively. Embiid is improving by leaps and bounds, and Wiggins has played his best in big games. If Tharpe plays consistently at the point, Kansas can be the best of the bunch. But there is still a long way to go.
Group Stats: Kansas Lineup Efficiencies
SI Luke Winn Power Rankings: Kansas #12
H/T to Jayhawk Slant member RocknChalkn for video below!
VOTE for Kansas fans at the NCAA 6th Fan Contest
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“Pay Heed. The game you love began here. Respect those who came before you. Make their legacy your own. Because destiny favors the dedicated. And rings don’t replace work. In this game you don’t get what you want. You get what you earn. We are Kansas. Together we rise. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!
Big 12 / College News
The University of North Carolina has launched its own investigation into claims highlighted by CNN that too many of its student-athletes read poorly.
Chancellor Carol Folt posted an open letter to campus, saying: "I take these claims very seriously, but we have been unable to reconcile these claims with either our own facts or with those data currently being cited as the source for the claims. Moreover, the data presented in the media do not match up with those data gathered by the Office of Undergraduate Admissions."
The university also released some of its own data, which it claims shows that the allegations of academic problems highlighted in a CNN investigation by whistle-blower Mary Willingham are not true.
Folt's letter said: "Only two of the 321 student-athletes admitted in 2012 and 2013 fell below the SAT and ACT levels that were cited in a recent CNN report as the threshold for reading levels for first-year students. And those two students are in good academic standing."
But a larger analysis of SAT and ACT entrance exam scores released to CNN show the situation is not so bright.
UNC data shows that, since 2004, the university admitted 34 players to play in the revenue-generating sports of football and basketball who scored below a 400 on the SAT verbal test, or below a 16 on the ACT reading and English tests.
That's 10% of those athletes admitted under "special talents" to play football or basketball.
Willingham reported 8% of student-athletes playing in revenue sports were reading below a third-grade level as part of a research project that was university approved.
Bruce Weber and Kansas State have each found, finally, the perfect fit. This was decades in the making, for both an underappreciated coach and an often overlooked men's basketball program.
The wider understanding of this will be one of the most lasting effects from what is shaping into a thrilling local season.
Weber is at a place, finally, that will allow him to build a program that fits his personality and skill set and that will grow to appreciate him for who he is rather than judge him for who he is not.
Kansas State, finally, has a coach specifically equipped to navigate the program's shortcomings and maximize its strengths, a man who won't promote himself above his team or see Manhattan, Kan., as a nice enough place to wait for something better to come along.
"I'll be honest," Weber says. "I hope I retire here."
That would be good for both sides, and this is something that Kansas State fans will continue to see as time goes on. This will be the job that defines Weber, who has a real chance to bring the kind of stable success that K-State basketball has lacked for decades.
KC Star Mellinger
Is playing men’s basketball at Iowa State a right or a privilege?
That’s the question swirling around the newest, jolting chapter involving Bubu Palo as an ever-tangling web of decisions made in courtrooms and university hallways tangled anew Thursday.
For the hoops-watching life of me, it’s nearly impossible to understand how the decision rests somewhere other than the offices of president Steven Leath, athletic director Jamie Pollard and Cyclone coach Fred Hoiberg.
A district court judge ordered a stay, however, that temporarily restores the eligibility for Palo, a point guard initially charged with second-degree sexual abuse in May 2012.
Along the way, a lot happened. The Story County Attorney’s Office dropped the charges. Iowa State’s Office of Judicial Affairs ruled Palo violated the university’s code of conduct. An administrative law judge found accusations related to that ruling unfounded. Leath stepped in to say Palo did run afoul of student guidelines. And the state’s Board of Regents backed the decision from one of its presidents.
Now, a district court has bounced the ball back in play again.
Why isn’t this over? Well, attorneys for Palo cite a laundry list of reasons they fought to reinstate Palo, ranging from the dismissal of charges to the university’s decision to keep him as a student on scholarship who remains in good standing academically.
They cited, too, a delay in Leath’s ruling by five days that stopped Palo from considering a transfer according to NCAA rules. Attorneys warned that “irreparable damage” could be caused, which is often code for limiting a person’s ability to later make a living.
No one expects Palo to return to the court and send potential Big 12 MVP DeAndre Kane or even backup Monte Morris to the bench and merrily march to the NBA. Someone in a suit and tie might try to make a case, though, about Palo’s potential in the NBA Development League or any number of check-cashing stops across Europe.
So, the unspoken specter of a civil lawsuit lingers uncomfortably in the air.
Hoiberg, asked from multiple angles about what the team can or will do in the face of the most recent court decision, said it was too early to comment, other than to affirm that Palo would not travel with the Cyclones this weekend to play Texas.
The voice begging to be heard in all of this is Leath, whose decision in September seemed to end Palo’s days in Hilton Coliseum. Leath said during an interview at the time of the decision that the ruling was appealed to him — and was not something he sought out.
Leath, rightfully and understandably, said he was unable to discuss the specifics that steered his call because of student-confidentiality concerns.
When reached Thursday via text message, Iowa State’s president deferred to the statement issued by athletics boss Pollard. There’s no doubt Leath, even on a day when he was involved in an education forum at the White House, weighed in on the words and sentiment before someone hit the “send” button.
The statement from Pollard: “We are disappointed to learn of the district court judge’s decision to reinstate Bubu Palo to our basketball team. We believe the university should have the sole right and responsibility to determine any student’s participation in extracurricular activities at Iowa State University.”
The divide between university decision-making and player loyalty immediately surfaced.
Melvin Ejim tweeted about Palo: “Strongest spiritual and mental dude I know been through way to much not to be rewarded. … welcome back broski.”
Georges Niang added his thoughts on social media, too: “Happy to hear my guy Bubu Palo it’s (sic) back on the team welcome back brother!!”
All of that arrived before the statement of “disappointment” from Pollard.
Colorado had a rough time in its first game without star guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
Norman Powell matched his season high with 19 points and No. 25 UCLA pulled away in the second half to beat No. 21 Colorado 69-56 Thursday night, handing the short-handed Buffaloes their first home loss of the season.
Dinwiddie was leading the team in scoring, assists and steals when he sustained a season-ending knee injury during Sunday's loss at Washington. Colorado (14-4, 3-2 Pac-12) also played without Tre'Shaun Fletcher, who injured his knee in the same game and is expected to miss six to eight weeks.
Arizona State's players and coaches had seen what Arizona had done to opponents this season, so they had a good idea how good the Wildcats were.
Seeing it up close only served as affirmation.
Arizona State fell into a big early hole and was unable to mount a comeback with second-leading scorer Jermaine Marshall out of the lineup, leading to a 91-68 loss to top-ranked Arizona on Thursday night.
Vanderbilt fell in love with the three-pointer Thursday night at Memorial Gymnasium.
That often isn't a winning strategy, but it worked out well for the Commodores, who connected on 12 threes and dispatched Missouri, 78-75, for their first win of the season in Southeastern Conference play.
Vanderbilt, 9-6 overall and 1-2 in the SEC, entered play averaging 16 attempts from long range per game, but coach Kevin Stallings' squad hoisted double that - going 12 for 32 overall - in fending off the Tigers.
Always looking to innovate in college basketball, John Calipari has his next idea.
The recent winter break his University of Kentucky basketball players underwent, going without a game from Dec. 29-Jan. 7, allowed for constant togetherness. The Wildcats practiced every day, shared meals and watched movies.
“Really becoming a team, getting to know one another, all the things we’re doing, helps,” the coach said of his “Camp Cal” ritual.
He’s already thinking of next year’s freshman-laden team, though.
“Could we do it offsite?” Calipari asked Thursday in a video segment posted to his website. “Maybe somewhere else? Yeah. Maybe bring fans with us wherever we go to do it. But we will do something that gives us an opportunity to rework our team. Why? Brand new team.”
Calipari didn’t elaborate on possible “Camp Cal” destinations — surely, he’d take suggestions on his highly popular Twitter account — but essentially taking a basketball team on a working vacation with fans hasn’t been done.
What in the world has happened to Jabari Parker?
Three weeks ago, he was being hailed as the best offensive weapon in the history of college basketball. Ok, that may be overstating it just a bit, but there really wasn’t much that Parker wasn’t doing on the offensive end of the floor. Put a smaller defender on him and he would abuse them in the post. Put a bigger defender on him and he’d show off his highly-developed perimeter repertoire. He finished alley-oops a possession after grabbing a defensive rebound and going coast-to-coast for a dunk.
He was special, and Duke looked like a legitimate title contender.
But Jabari hasn’t been the same player since the calendar turn, and that no doubt plays a major role in why Duke has suddenly looked like a borderline top 25 team.
Check out these numbers:
Halfway through college basketball's first major season of change regarding new officiating protocol, the man in charge of overseeing more than 800 officials is satisfied with how things are turning out.
NCAA national coordinator of men's basketball officiating John Adams said, across the board, Division I officials have been implementing the points of emphasis regarding hand-checking and the block/charge rule with consistency -- for the most part. It's not perfect. There have been cases where the zebras have failed in this pursuit, but overall, he's satisfied.
"I'm pretty honest about stuff like this," Adams told CBSSports.com. "Given everything that was thrown at officials this year … I think they've done a very, very good job of adapting quickly and officiating games according to the standards of the NCAA and their conferences. I don't think there's any question that anecdotally these rule changes have worked. Scoring through Jan. 5 was up six and half points through this time last year. There were only four more fouls per game. Turnovers are down almost two per game and with exception of [Kentucky-Arkansas], the games that we're able to time are coming, the vast majority, under two hours.”
Adams' statement about shortened games goes against conventional sentiment, that the new rules and more whistles are leading to games that often swell beyond two hours. Adams said the NCAA timed all the NIT games back in November and December, most of which were on television, and the average length came to one hour and 54 minutes. It should be noted that the NIT's November bracket of results is a small sample size overall.
The loudest bemoaning most recently sprouted during Tuesday night's Kentucky-Arkansas game, which went to overtime and took two and a half hours to complete. It featured 60 fouls and 81 free throws. As coincidence would have it, Adams was at the game.
"I hope my presence doesn't have any affect on the officials," Adams said when I asked him if he thought his attendance affected the way the crew called the game. "They have much more things to worry about than me sitting 150 feet from the court. I thought the referees in the game, assigned by the SEC, did exactly what they're supposed to do. What happens in games like that … the players on each team fail to adjust to the way the game is being called. At some point, you have to stop fouling. And if you don't, why would you expect the officials to change the way they're calling the game?"
The college athletics transfer turnstile may keep spinning.
On Thursday, the NCAA's Leadership Council decided not to adopt but to continue to consider a proposal that would prevent transferring athletes from applying for and receiving waivers to play immediately at another school. All transfers would have been required to sit out a year.
The recommendation, proposed by the NCAA's transfer issue subcommittee, would have given transfers an opportunity to extend the traditional five-year period of eligibility by one year (which would mostly affect those who have been injured, redshirted or have previously transferred).
This proposal stemmed, in part, from concerns about the heavy use of the transfer waiver process and the perception that the waiver process has been inconsistent.
"(This proposal) is where we felt we could, maybe not reduce the number of transfers, but hopefully ensure that the student-athletes who are transferring are making the right decision and not doing it just because, 'School A has promised me they're going to get me a waiver and School B hasn't said anything,' " Amy Huchthausen, the America East commissioner and transfer issue subcommittee chair, told USA TODAY Sports on Thursday.
Huchthausen said that the subcommittee proposed two recommendations – albeit similar ones – one affecting undergraduate transfers, and one affecting graduate transfers. In both cases, there would be no possibility of immediate eligibility or potential to extend the eligibility clock.
The hope, Huchthausen said, was for the new policy to be implemented for the 2014-15 academic year. Because the leadership council will not recommend the policy to the Board of Directors on Saturday, the next opportunity for the waiver issue to be addressed will be in April at the next leadership council meeting. In the meantime, Huchthausen said, she and others will try to educate more of the NCAA membership about the proposal.
Ron Wellman looks around at college basketball and sees balance. He sees some things he expected, and lots of things he didn’t. He sees nobody dominant, but many teams capable. He sees the line of candidates for March stretching from sea to shining sea.
And then he thinks of what a challenge it will be one day soon, when it comes time for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Committee that he chairs to put together a tournament bracket.
“Oh gosh, a challenge is putting it mildly,” he said this week. “We’re going to have a yeoman’s task, to not only select the right teams but to seed them correctly. The depth of really good teams this year is unlike anything that I have seen.”
Wellman looks at the records. The list of unbeatens is down to three, but there were 36 more teams with three or fewer loses at the close of business Tuesday.
“If you were to try today to do the top four teams, or the top eight teams, or the top 12 teams, there would be controversy associated with all of those decisions. Maybe more than for a number of years,” he said.
He sees that even those currently in the penthouse have struggled to stay there. No. 1 Arizona has had five games decided by six or fewer points, including Drexel.
No. 2 Syracuse just had to hustle to get past 5-12 Boston College. No. 3 Wisconsin lost for the first time on Tuesday, to an Indiana program it had beaten 12 consecutive times. No. 4 Michigan State has had to survive back-to-back overtimes. Ohio State started 15-0, then lost two in a row.
“Even the undefeated teams are having great games, and sometimes great games against unanticipated teams, which again shows the competitiveness of college basketball,” Wellman said.
“There isn’t a team I don’t think who has emerged as the clear No. 1 team in the country. We have a number teams that would be potential No. 1s, and probably an equal number of teams that are immediately after those five or six teams.”
He sees the curves this season has been taking. He remembers back to the glitzy November night in Chicago; Duke vs. Kansas and Kentucky vs. Michigan State. The elite of the elite in the polls. By this week, Michigan State was the only one of the four still in the top 10.
“I think everybody at that doubleheader was saying, this could be the Final Four right here,” Wellman said. “You wonder, where did they go? But I will say a couple of those teams could emerge again if they continue to improve.”
...He looks at the latest NCAA RPI ratings. Last year’s championship game duo of Louisville and Michigan, who both had several returnees? They’re Nos. 39 and 48.
Meanwhile, Wichita State and San Diego State are in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll. And in the RPI, Duke is behind George Washington and barely ahead of Harvard.
“But I think that has been a trend in college basketball the last few years,” Wellman said. “Now there may be a team or two that emerges over the next couple of months that really separate themselves from the others. But I do anticipate that we’re going to have 12 to 18 teams that are very competitive toward the end of the season.”
Wellman has liked what he has seen -- to a point -- from teams more arduous better non-conference schedules.
“I think we’re making progress, but I don’t know that we are where we ultimately want to be or need to be. But I do think there’s a recognition of the importance of scheduling the right teams at the right places. More and more coaches are recognizing the importance of building the right schedule that is going to attract the attention they want from the basketball committee.”
What if they held an NCAA tournament subregional in the heart of Tobacco Road and no one came?
N.C. State is hosting one this year at Raleigh's PNC Arena, but it's starting to look like the impossible is possible, the unthinkable thinkable: A North Carolina subregional without a North Carolina team.
While more than 80 percent of the tickets are already sold, many to Duke and North Carolina fans who expected their teams to stay close to home, neither team has earned that position at this point. (N.C. State is prohibited from playing NCAA games on its home floor.)
This will be the ninth time in the past 11 years one of the eight opening-weekend sites is in North Carolina because, simply, it's good business for the NCAA.
Since going to the "pod" system in 2002, which gives geographic priority to teams seeded in the top four, there's been at least one and often two North Carolina teams in that group. From the NCAA's perspective, that means guaranteed ticket demand in Greensboro and Charlotte and Winston-Salem and Raleigh.
Which is, once again, the case. It's the basketball that isn't going according to plan.
…Ticket sales won't be a concern in Raleigh. Only about 3,000 remain two months out. But if the Blue Devils wind up in Spokane and the Tar Heels are sent to St. Louis (with Kansas, presumably), and Pittsburgh and Baylor end up in Raleigh, just to name two possibilities, they might as well move it over to Reynolds Coliseum and give it a retro vibe.
"N.C. State does a magnificent job of marketing and hosting this event, and it's going to be an excellent NCAA site with exciting games," Dupree wrote. "Regardless of which teams are here, it's still March Madness."
Big XII composite schedule (includes results, highlights, stats)
ESPN College GameDay Schedule
2013-14 TV Schedule
Curie nearly got caught looking ahead to their nationally televised game against USA Today's top-ranked Mountverde (Md.) at the Hoops Hall of Fame Classic in Boston on Monday. The No. 2 Condors had to scrap to a 58-47 victory on Thursday against visiting King.
"I told them just what I thought about their effort," Curie coach Mike Oliver said. "All this cool play and thinking all I have to do is show up kind of attitude has got to go. If not, then some of them can hit the door.'' Oliver said his long time assistant coach, Larry Wallace, said he sensed that the team was not ready to play. "He told me before the game that we were going to be in trouble," he said.
Cliff Alexander registered a triple-double registered with 30 points, 26 rebounds and 14 blocks as King refused to go away quietly. The Condors (15-1, 7-0 Red-Central) led by nine points at halftime, but had the lead trimmed to 41-38 by the end of the third quarter after being outscored by King 14-8 in the period.
It’s Thursday afternoon, and Kevin Boyle and his Montverde (Fla.) Academy boys basketball team, the consensus No. 1 in the nation, are in Springfield.
Not Springfield, Mass., Springfield, Mo.
The Eagles will head to the Birthplace of Basketball for the Spalding Hoophall Classic on Sunday, but first they have to play three games in as many days in the competitive Bass Pro Tournament of Champions.
“We’re used to playing those types of games, but it’s not easy,” the coach said in a phone interview Wednesday afternoon.
Montverde could potentially face White Station of Memphis, Tenn., No. 3 in the USA Today poll, or Paul VI – which will also play in the Hoophall – in the final. Less than 36 hours later, Montverde will take on Kansas commit Cliff Alexander and Curie Metro of Chicago Monday afternoon at Springfield College.
Monday’s game wraps up four games in five days for the Eagles, with the finale of that stretch against a Curie team ranked No. 7 in the nation.
“Curie will be the eighth Top 10 team we’ve played this year,” Boyle said.
Alexander checks in at 6-foot-8, 240 pounds. The power forward is just that: powerful. He is physical and aggressive going to the basket, and is a one-man wrecking crew on the glass.
“He’s a man against a lot of boys right now,” Boyle said. “Hopefully we can limit him from having a monster game, keep him somewhat off the boards.”
Hoophall Classic schedule (Jan 16-20)
Daily Hoophall Classic coverage and live blog
ESPNU Monday Jan 20 11:30 AM (Eastern): Kelly Oubre vs Theo Pinson
The next few matchups will take place on Monday afternoon and can be seen on ESPNU. The first of which involves a talented and athletic Wesleyan Christian bunch, and a boatload of talent and NBA potential from the program hailing from Sin City in Findlay Prep. However, the in-game matchup that I most want to see is between a future Tarheel and Jayhawk. Though similar in height and position, Kelly Oubre and Theo Pinson are far apart when skillset is involved.
Wesleyan Christian wing, Theo Pinson, is a type of guy that loves to get to the bucket. With giant length and added bounce around the rim, the Carolina native is good for one or two highlight reel dunks in any given game. His jumper remains a work in progress and he has been placed at the point guard spot on the floor for his WCA squad, so it will be interesting to see how well Oubre maneuvers around in containing Pinson out top.
With Oubre, the Findlay transfer has a ton of skill within his scoring arsenal and the lefty has a developed pull-up game and does major damage on the offensive glass. He can oftentimes lose balance on his perimeter jumper, but his stroke is pristine and it will be interesting to see how Pinson deals with the stronger lefty on the wing. I give the edge here to Oubre’s bunch in pulling out the W, but it is anyone’s guess as to who takes the upper hand in this particular matchup.
…The final matchup that immediately stands out is between Curie High School (IL) and Montverde Academy (FL). Curie is led by rim arsonist Cliff Alexander, while the Florida bunch is led by who could be the top player in 2015 in Ben Simmons.
Alexander brings the body and vengeance from 15-feet and in that most NBA teams would like to see out of their starting big men. Simmons displays the fortitude and versatility at the four spot as a highly skilled yet athletic forward. Hailing from Australia, does Simmons have the toughness and body to stick with Alexander when placed on him within the half court?
It should be a fun affair and interesting to see how a less talented group in Curie hangs with the number one team in America. Montverde throws at you high-major prospect after high-major prospect, while the Windy City program is heavily reliant on Alexander. However, don’t overlook the contributions of the future Jayhawk as the violent finisher can carry his squad for prolonged spurts and carry his team until the very end. I give the final nudge here to Montverde, but not before Cliff Alexander goes for 30 and 15.
Bass Pro TOC Jan 16-18
CBS Sports Network will broadcast the Semifinal games (Jan. 17th) LIVE and the Championship game (Jan. 18th) LIVE!
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