Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:15 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 11:25 am
By Jeff Goodman
Jim Calhoun's line: UConn needs to worry about UConn.
"We have a lot to offer," Calhoun told CBSSports.com on Monday morning. "We're very attractive now. This isn't 25 years ago."
Calhoun went onto talk about the national championships, the continued growth and success of the football program and the location of the school in regards to its media coverage from New York to Boston.
"It's a different world now here," he said.
Calhoun wouldn't talk specifically about the possibility of UConn heading to the ACC (he said he'll leave that to UConn president Susan Herbst), but he sure sounded like a guy who knew his program was in for a change.
Multiple sources have confirmed ESPN's report over the weekend that UConn is in serious discussions to go to the ACC.
"What UConn needs to do is put it head down and take care of UConn," Calhoun said. "Do what's best for us - just like everyone else needs to do what's best for their institution."
Calhoun, 69, sounded upbeat about the potential change of conference home.
"I'd face any challenge. Anywhere," Calhoun said. "Line 'em up and let's play them. I'd be excited by it."
My sense is that Calhoun would welcome the opportunity to go toe-to-toe with Coach K and Roy Williams and Duke and North Carolina as his career winds down.
That may not have been the case a year ago, when the Huskies appeared to be on the downward spiral, but now after a national title - and the addition of the program's best recruiting class in a while - Calhoun's swagger is at an all-time high.
Photo: US PRESSWIRE
Posted on: September 19, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: September 19, 2011 10:36 am
By Matt Norlander
Suddenly, over the weekend, it started to feel real. Really real, really fast.
Conference realignment -- two words everyone's quickly adapting as cringe-worthy as "Brett Favre" -- just had its first corporeal, wide-ranging impact on college basketball. Before this, the BYU, Texas A&M, Colorado, Boise State (what? Don't you realize it jumped form the WAC to the Mountain West?) and Nebraska scurries from one spot to another were fringe movements; the fray before the tear. They no doubt signaled a larger shift at work, but it wasn't until the swift -- and goodness was this FAST -- bolt from the Big East by Syracuse and Pitt that we really felt the revolt.
We finally have a tear.
The other schools jumping, like most of these decisions, if not all of them, were football-related. But I don't see how the case could be made this Syracuse/Pitt package deal was all about pigskin. This truly, tangibly shifted the perception and existence of the college basketball world.
Two schools leaving college basketball's latest and greatest conference, the best one we have (plenty claim the '09 Big East crop was the best assembled in the history of the game), to go to the old-school best conference. Your older brother's and father's best basketball conference. And with that shift, the ACC can claim perennial paramount over the sport's landscape once again. You don't think that had as much to do with leaving as television/football money down the road? It certainly did.
And the fallout came fast over the weekend. Who knows which school presidents are talking to which conferences now. The rearrangement everyone claimed was coming (and because everyone claimed it was coming, is that why it transpired?) is here. We're fully in the throes. It's clear: Texas A&M may have "tripped the wire" on realignment in 2011, but Syracuse and Pittsburgh undoubtedly shook the foundation on which East Coast college sports rest on. The Big East as we know it is dead and gone, haphazardly and ironically eased into the coffin by one of its founding members in Syracuse.
And so the next question everyone has waits before us. What's next of the Big East? Well, what of the ACC as well? Seems pretty clear based off ACC commissioner John Swofford's quotes that 14 is merely an overnight stay of a number for the league. Could we be at 16 by week's end? And if we are, who are the next two schools? If UConn gets an invite and accepts (which it would), then the Big East gets a full downgrade by any pragmatic measure.
Just a few of the questions that come to mind: What will happen with Madison Square Garden? Will the ACC adopt its postseason in the same amateur way the Big East does/did? Does this affect the tenures of any coaches in their 60s (Boeheim, Williams, K, Calhoun)? And a big one the coaches are vested in: How does this alter the recruiting strategies for all big players involved? For the past 13 months, college football's culture -- its teams, school presidents, ADs, fans and writers -- got busy worrying, ranting, predicting, diagramming and explaining away what was happening in its sport. College basketball politely and quietly stood on the outer circle, taking an occasional piece of shrapnel to the face out of self-mandated loyalty to big brother's fight.
But now the fight is college basketball's, too. Now the future of the sport is truly changing and the traditions, identities, patterns and grooves of the sport as we know it are mutating are an alarming speed. How we see the sport today isn't how we saw it a week ago. And in a week's time, the view could change again.
Posted on: September 17, 2011 2:06 pm
Edited on: September 17, 2011 2:19 pm
By Gary Parrish
You don't apply for membership to the ACC unless you already know you'll be accepted.
So this is happening.
Syracuse and Pittsburgh -- two of the Big East's most important members -- are heading to the land of Duke and North Carolina, and though I'm not certain what it does for the ACC in football other than ensure commissioner John Swofford will run what's on track to be the first so-called super conference, the basketball aspect of this is exciting.
The ACC was already arguably the nation's best basketball conference.
Now it won't even be debatable.
The league is about to add two perennial and rock-solid top-25 programs .
Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim are the active leaders in victories.
Now they'll be fighting for the same league championship.
That's a cool future for the ACC.
Meantime, where the Big East goes from here is anybody's guess.
One option might be to try to pluck Kansas and Kansas State from the Big 12 to get to nine all-sports members (once TCU is added), but West Virginia could still, at some point, leave for the SEC, and Rutgers is always an option for the Big Ten. In other words, the Big East is just as vulnerable as the Big 12. One of the leagues might survive, at best. But the most likely scenario has leftover members from both leagues merging to form something that's a geographical mess and notch below a soon-to-be-enhanced SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12.
"Whatever happens, we'll have to adjust to it," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told CBSSports.com by phone on Saturday. "I'm not commenting on Syracuse to the ACC, but in general I'm saying that I don't see how it's a good thing to have all these huge conferences. But I may be wrong. That's my opinion -- and I'm old. ... [But] some day we'll get to 16-team leagues and everybody may look back on it and say it wasn't such a great idea."
Most agree with Boeheim because there's a chance this makes everybody more money at the cost of happiness.
Traditional powers will have a tougher time winning league titles.
Traditional losers will have a tougher time breaking through.
Traditional rivalries will be sacrificed.
But complaining about those things is like sitting around and complaining about how children don't play outside anymore. Or how our country would be better without fast-food chains on every corner. Or how the BCS ruins college football's postseason. Like it or not, these are the times in which we live. Super conferences are coming, and Swofford should be credited for being proactive in this eat-or-be-eaten world. He's on the verge of poaching two of the Big East's all-sports schools and ensuring the ACC survives this grand shift in the landscape of college athletics, and by doing so he's seriously enhanced the basketball side of his conference.
Yes, I know, basketball isn't what's dictating any of these proposed moves.
But that doesn't mean basketball won't be affected.
Or, in the ACC's case, vastly improved.
Posted on: September 15, 2011 10:49 am
Edited on: September 15, 2011 6:05 pm
By Matt Norlander
(UPDATE: Haith also spoke, a little more in detail, to Steve Walentik of the Columbia Daily Tribune and CBSSports.com. Worth the quick read. Click.)
Frank Haith isn't allowed to speak on the record about the allegations against he and his former staff at Miami. That's an edict from the NCAA, which is currently looking into Haith's past with the Hurricanes.
In August, Yahoo Sports dropped what I consider to be the most thorough investigative story in the history of sports journalism. It largely centered around the Miami football program, but Haith was a target as well. In fact, the allegations against he and his assistants were among the most acute and detailed. The primary allegation from imprisoned former Miami booster/Ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro was that Haith arranged to pay recruit DeQuan Jones $10,000. Jones is still on Miami's roster, has been a player of minimal impact, and has yet to be punished for his alleged involvement.
Haith went on KTRS radio Wednesday night. Naturally, the Yahoo Sports story came up. Haith addressed it on record for the first time (not including a sterile reaction by way of a school press release). Good job by the hosts to get something out of Haith, when he's among the most guarded head coaches in the country to begin with.
The better quote, in my ears, is Haith addressing how he's dealing with a frenzied September of official visits and in-home conversations with recruits and their parents. This is a big month. Could arguably set the tone for his tenure at Missouri. He's got a reputation to overcome. That's not easy, obviously.
I'd love to offer up true context, but it seems KTRS' site is still a few days behind in uploading its notable audio clips.
Parrish has written about it here before. So long as Haith denies, denies, denies, and there's no paper trail, he's most likely not going to lose his job over this. Now, if he can't win at a high rate and his recruiting is affected? He could be bought out of that five-year contract well before it expires.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 9:59 pm
Edited on: September 13, 2011 10:27 pm
By Gary Parrish
You know that report that estimated Duke basketball players are worth roughly $1 million each? Mike Krzyzewski must recognize there's something to the study. He spent Tuesday treating a prospect that way.
Word has it Duke rolled three deep, including Coach K, plus showed up in a limo to watch Jabari Parker's workout at Simeon tonight.That's a Tweet from Scout.com's Evan Daniels. What it claims is that Krzyzewski and two assistants took a limo to Simeon High in Chicago to see the Class of 2013's top prospect on Tuesday, and that'll leave an impression, won't it? Yes, Kansas' Bill Self, Michigan State's Tom Izzo, Ohio State's Thad Matta, Illinois' Bruce Weber and various other coaches were also in the gym; they're all still involved with Parker, too. But it's difficult to quantify what it must mean to have the most powerful man in college basketball -- a coach with four national titles and a gold medal to boot -- fly to your hometown and take a limo just to observe your workout.
So will Parker be the next Million Dollar Blue Devil?
It's way too early to speculate on that.
But a limo at Simeon High on Tuesday probably didn't hurt Duke's chances.
That much, I know.
(Note: After I filed this I got a text from a source informing me that Krzyzewski also took a limo on Tuesday to see Julius Randle, the consensus No. 2 prospect in the Class of 2013. Translation: Duke is ballin'.)
Posted on: September 7, 2011 5:17 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2011 5:24 pm
In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.
By Jeff Goodman
Jeff Capel got his first up-close look at his alma mater in Duke's recent trip to China and Dubai, so I figured the former Oklahoma head coach would be the ideal choice for insight on the Blue Devils.
OK, fine. I'll admit it. Coach K big-timed me, but Capel was perfect for the task and shared some of his thoughts - including gushing about the trio of Ryan Kelly, Miles Plumlee and Seth Curry.
What he learned from the trip: "How good Ryan Kelly is. He was our best player on the trip - and was pretty consistent in practice, too. His body has changed, he's more mature and his confidence continues to increase. This trip should provide him with even more confidence heading into the season. The second thing that stood out to me was how Seth Curry has expanded his game. I also thought of him as a shooter, but he's really worked on his ballhandling and decision-making and has put himself in a position when we put the ball in his hands and are comfortable with him running the team. He's better than I thought."
Who/What stood out on the trip: "How big and long we are. We have three guys in the frontcourt who are at least 6-foot-10 - Ryan, Miles and Mason. The strength of our team was in our frontcourt. The three main guys who stood out on the trip were Ryan, Seth and Miles (Plumlee)."
What concerns you following the trip: "The two areas we didn't play as well as we'd have liked were defense and rebounding. We need to rebound the ball at a higher rate, especially with the size we have. But we didn't implement a lot of our defensive stuff in the 10 practices prior to the trip."
- Nolan Smith told me a few months ago he expected sophomore Tyler Thornton to win the job as the starting point guard, but it was Seth Curry who started each game at the point. "I think he'll see time at both backcourt spots," Capel said.
- Freshman point guard Quinn Cook did not play on the trip as he continues to rehab from an injury he suffered last season at Oak Hill Academy. "He participated in the first three or four practices, but it was obvious he wasn't ready," Capel said. The Duke staff expects Cook to be ready for the start of practice on Oct. 15.
- Highly touted freshman Austin Rivers is really the one guy on the team that can break down an opposing defense. "The best thing he does is penetrate and create offense," Capel said. "He didn't shoot the ball particularly well, but that's not something we're worried about." Capel said that the area where Rivers needs to improve is on the defensive end, but he knows Rivers is capable since he did it when Capel was coaching the U-18 team last summer. "He can be a heck of a defensive player, but has never really been asked to do it."
- Rivers' father, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, went with his family on the entire trip. Nolan Smith also spent the entire time with the team while Kyrie Irving and Grant Hill were with the team in Shanghai.
- Capel said the highlight of the trip was climbing the Great Wall with the entire team. "It was pretty cool how the guys came together," Capel said. "You don't realize how high it is. I was exhausted. Everyone was."
- On freshman Marshall Plumlee, the youngest of the Plumlee Brothers: "He probably got knocked back more than anyone. He's going to be a really good player for us, but he's playing behind the strength of our team - Mason, Miles and Ryan. His time will come." Capel said that the youngest Plumlee can really run and plays hard, but just needs experience and strength.
- On freshman Alex Murphy: "He played better each game. If he makes his free throws and a couple of 3's, then you're talking about him playing great. The big thing for Alex is he has to develop the ego that he's a really good player. He's a legit 6-8, is athletic, can run and is versatile. He can't worry about stepping on anyone's toes. I think he came in thinking he might redshirt, but now he sees that he can play this year."
- On freshman Michael Gbinijie: "He struggled a little bit, but had been good in practice. He has to understand who he is - a defender, rebounder and a kid who can bring us toughness. Like so many freshman, he feels as though his worth is determined by scoring - while what he needs to provide us is as a big, athletic wing."
- Andrew Dawkins did what he does - make shots. Capel said the staff talked about it was the best defense they had ever seen him play.
- Mason Plumlee came off the bench each game as his brother, Miles and Kelly started up front. "Those other two guys played better in practice," Capel said. "Mason played well, and I think that may have lit a fire in him. Now he knows, with those two guys improving so much, that he has to step up. We need him to be a great rebounder and defend our paint. He played well, but those other two guys just played better. Miles was tremendous on the trip - he looked like a pro. He was dunking on guys, blocking shots and finishing through traffic. He was a beast."
Posted on: September 2, 2011 9:56 am
Edited on: September 2, 2011 10:08 am
By Jeff Goodman
CORAL GABLES, Fla. - When I walked into the weight room, I almost didn't recognize him.
A slimmed-down version of Reggie Johnson was in the midst of his rehab.
I'll be honest. I had written Johnson off the moment I heard the news back in early July that he would be out 5-6 months after suffering a major knee injury.
But that was when he was, well, fat (please don't tell him I said that).
That would put his return around the New Year - and usually, 300-plus pounders (Johnson played at about 310 a year ago) aren't able to come back quickly and in shape after being on the mend for such a lengthy period of time.
But Johnson has dropped about 20 or so pounds and is down in the 285 range - and Larranga and his staff are hopeful he will be able to make an impact when he returns, whether that be in December or January.
"I'm no doctor and just know the doctors told me it would be six months for him to be 100 percent," Larranaga said.
"We're going to have three different seasons," he added. "Without Reggie, when Reggie comes back and then with a healthy Reggie. We're obviously a different team with him."
Johnson gives the Hurricanes something few teams can boast these days: a legitimate inside presence and a guy who can score in the post. He averaged 11.9 points and 9.6 rebounds last season.
Larranga has already gone through plenty of adversity since taking the job down in Miami - as I documented in my story last night - but the return of a sub-300 pound Johnson for ACC play would give the Hurricanes a chance to be an NCAA tournament team this season.
Posted on: August 29, 2011 3:06 pm
By Gary Parrish
My colleague Matt Moore has an interesting post in our NBA blog about some interesting comments from Stan Van Gundy in relation to the scandal at Miami that has some believing the football program should get the so-called death penalty. Basically, the Orlando Magic coach blamed the NCAA's system for the problems that plague college athletics, then suggested the only way to fix the system is to eliminate the entire rule book.
“[We should] let the schools decide whom they enroll and how — no entrance or eligibility requirements, how much the boosters want to pay them and whether or not they go to class. There are two rules. You play only four seasons, and the upper age limit is 25. No other rules. Players who are paid must declare their income and pay taxes on it. If they don’t and get caught, then they have to deal with the IRS and instead of giving back the Heisman they risk going to jail. This drops the myth about amateurism and education. It allows players to get paid but puts it out in the open. Now people can stop hiding behind their idealism about the purity of college athletics and let you know what the school and alumni truly value. NCAA enforcement is the drug war. We’ve lost. Let’s find a different, more realistic approach.”The reason I love that quote is because it touches on something I've spent a lot of time talking to coaches about recently -- that the only way to really "clean up" college athletics is to eliminate the rules because amateurism as defined by the NCAA has never worked and will never work. There's just no reason to believe we will ever stop agents and boosters and coaches and shoe companies from buying prospects for schools. Van Gundy's solution to this problem is to strip away all the BS and make college athletics a legalized free-for-all, and that's an idea I could get behind because it would bring everything above board.
It probably wouldn't change much in regards to which teams win and which teams lose.
I genuinely believe that if we told all football programs and all basketball programs that they could, for the next 15 years, do whatever they want to do to field whatever kind of team they want to field, that our next 15 national champions in both sports would look a lot like our last 15 national champions in both sports. They'd be the same lists, give or take a school or two, because the schools that care the most and spend the most would win the most, and that's pretty much the way it is right now anyway. The only difference would be that nobody would call that system "hypocritical," and nobody would whisper about cheating when a school wins a title because everybody would know exactly what everybody did to get everybody on campus.
No more lies.
No more secrets.
Is it a far-fetched idea?
But it's much more honest than the system we've got now.