Tag:Big East
Posted on: September 14, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 14, 2011 4:15 pm

Trippin': Fight might've been good for Hoyas

By Gary Parrish

John Thompson III would've rather the fight in China been avoided. That's obvious, right? But the fight did happen -- you've read about it and seen it many times already, I'm sure -- and there's nothing anybody can do about it now. So Thompson has decided to use the incident as a positive, and he really thinks it might be exactly that.

"In a roundabout and undesired kind of way, the whole incident, the fight, really brought this group closer together quickly," Thompson said. "So big picture, it's not a bad thing at all."

Georgetown returned home from China last month.

Thompson reflected on the trip with CBSSports.com on Wednesday.

What Thompson learned: "This group has a willingness to compete and a willingness to win. And it's a versatile team -- much more versatile than we've been the past couple of years."

Who or what impressed Thompson: "I think the key part of the trip was just the introduction and acclimation and initiation of our freshmen. We have five freshman and we're going to need significant contributions from all of them, to tell you the truth. I was very pleased with how they competed, how they responded and how they learned. They all played really well. Collectively, their basketball IQ and competitive spirt is high."

What concerned Thompson: "Our inexperience. As much as I like this group, we're still an inexperienced team."

----- NOTES -----
  • Like most coaches, Thompson is mostly spending this "contact" period on the road watching and meeting with prospects. But when I caught him on the phone Wednesday, he was actually walking into his office ... for a moment. "I'm going to be in here two hours," Thompson said. "Then it's back on the road."
  • Georgetown, as Thompson pointed out, will rely heavily on a freshman class of Otto Porter, Greg Whittington, Tyler Adams, Mikael Hopkins and Jabril Trawick. Thompson said all of them -- except Adams, who was injured at the time but is now fine -- showed encouraging signs in China, and he didn't single anybody out. But when I asked about Porter specifically, here's what Thompson said: "Otto is outstanding. He's just a basketball player. He does everything on the court. He can score. He defends. He rebounds. He works hard."
  • The country got to hear John Thompson Jr. -- Thompson III's legendary father -- tell his 9/11 story earlier this week, and most of us were blown away by it, by how close the former Georgetown coach came to dying in the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Among those not blown away was Thompson III. He heard that story 10 years ago. "I remember him trying to decide whether to travel that day," said Thompson III. "I'm just glad he wasn't stubborn about getting on that plane."
Photo: Reuters
Posted on: September 12, 2011 10:11 am
Edited on: September 12, 2011 10:17 am

NCAA deflects issue of UConn scholarships

By Matt Norlander

It's a Monday morning after the first weekend of the NFL season, so few general, Joe Q Six Pack sports fans are invested in the college hoops scene, what with everyone eager to quarterback. (My analysis: the Bears are winning the Super Bowl. NEXT QUESTION.)

Somehow, we press on over here in our digs, and I wanted to bring this item to your attention.There was a good column filled with a lot of curiosity written by Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant over the wekend. Jacobs has been on fire this year, and I thank him for giving the blog a little bit of extra content fuel.

Jacobs -- probably the most outspoken sportswriter at any of the Connecticut newspapers -- had been mainly silent since the news of Andre Drummond's arrival to Connecticut's campus. Why? Why did the most prominent sports voice at the state's biggest newspaper sit on this for so long? Well, he wanted to talk to the NCAA, particuarly president Mark Emmert first. But it appears Emmert wasn't made available to discuss why a program that's been put on probation, that's suspended Jim Calhoun for three games, that won a national championship despite living under the heat lamp of the NCAA for the better part of the past two years, was able maneuver within the system once again.

On Friday came my answer from Erik Christianson, NCAA director of public and media relations: "We do not know the specific details of this situation, so we encourage you to contact the institution for that information."

So much for expanding the public discussion.

Going to UConn for answers does nothing. All you'll get from the school is a quaint and correct, "We worked within the system that's allowed."

Jacobs makes the point that UConn isn't at fault here, and he's exactly right. It's faulty to blame a school for finding ways to win within the weak/manipulable rules that are already at play. UConn knew it could get Andre Drummond in this year and knew it'd have to boot someone off the scholarship docket to do so. Turns out it's Michael Bradley, a kid who grew up in a Tennessee group home who's taking the hit. (He'll no doubt end up not really incurring that debt, right? So who's ultimately paying for that, and when?) With Drummond, the Huskies a legitimate national championship team, the first group with that acclaim coming off a title since Florida five years ago.

And the reason Drummond's even learning about the best and most boring spots in all of Storrs, Conn., is because the NCAA still has a one-year-renewal scholarship policy. A mini contract for players the institution vehemently refers to as amateurs. If you implement a four-year -- or even a two-year -- scholarship policy/guarantee, Drummond is at St. Thomas More Prep right now, gearing up for a quiet post-grad season. Jacobs merely wanted to ask Emmert about that, above anything else.

But the NCAA hides and deflects issues to its member institutions. How is that leadership? Sitting back and allowing UConn to do what it did without so much as a comment isn't indicative of new policy, it's proof of continued contentment with so many of the system's flawed keystones. Emmert and Co. look compliant and complacent in place of proactive and perturbed over how UConn's seemingly gotten stronger despite sanctions for violations that would've forced 99 percent of programs to find a new head coach.

Photo: AP
Posted on: September 5, 2011 8:02 pm

Friars best scenario? Ledo never steps on campus

By Jeff Goodman

Ed Cooley had no choice. He had to go after local star Ricky Ledo.

Ledo is one of the most talented scorers in the entire country, a guy that the new Providence Friars coach can normally only dream of landing. CBSSpports.com broke the news on Monday afternoon that Ledo committed to Providence.

But, in essence, the ideal scenario for Cooley may be the following:

Ledo never, ever steps foot on campus.

``It's absolutely the best thing for Cooley," said one source extremely close to the situation.

It sounds nuts, but hear me out.

Ledo is at his fourth school - which is a major academic red flag for not only the NCAA, but also for those who track the success rate of those who have established a clear track record of instability in high school. This is his second pledge to the local school, the first coming when Keno Davis was at the helm.

Many of those who have suited up alongside Ledo aren't enamored with him because of his unwillingness to be a quality teammate - and the attitude he often displays. His pledge could wind up hurting Providence with some local targets.

Also, there are plenty who feel as though Ledo playing so close to home in the fishbowl that is Providence may be ultimately setting him up to fail. 

Ledo's record this past July, at one point, was 1-10. The last high-level guy who had a mark like that one was Renardo Sidney, and um, look what's happened with him.

Let's hope I am wrong about Ledo - and he winds up academically qualifying and buying into his role as a member of a team.

However, I'm skeptical.

Cooley has already reaped the reward of a two-week stretch in which he landed arguably the nation's top point guard, Kris Dunn, and another elite level wing in Ledo.

It's given him and the Providence program exactly the pop he needed to make the Friars "cool."

People are writing about Providence for the first time in years.

But Ledo - if he does wind up in a PC uniform - could set the program back instead of moving it forward.  

Ledo has already spent four years in high school and doesn't have a diploma. The plan is to have him get his GED, then add one core class and arrive in December or January.

I'll believe it when I see it.

And I just don't think that'll ever happen - and that may not be the worst thing for Cooley and the future of the Friars.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 11:37 am

Alex Oriakhi was blindsided by Drummond news

By Jeff Goodman

The bombshell that Andre Drummond dropped exactly one week ago caught everyone by surprise.

Even his new frontcourt mate, Alex Oriakhi.

"I was shocked," Oriakhi admitted. "I didn't think he was coming."

But Oriakhi received a call on Friday evening from Drummond in search of UConn coach Jim Calhoun's number, saying he wanted to commit for this year.

"It was crazy," Oriakhi said.

Now the speculation will begin with how Oriaki and Drummond can co-exist. However, what people fail to realize is Oriakhi is about as team-oriented a kid as you will find.

"It doesn't bother me at all that he's coming," Oriakhi said. "I want to win another championship. That's what's important to me."

"I know I'm going to get the ball in the post," he added. "The addition of Andre isn't going to hurt me; it'll help me."

Oriakhi expects that both he and Drummond will get the opportunity to step out and expand their game on the perimeter. But that'll be the interesting scenario to watch - whether teams respect either or just pack it in, dare them to make shots and congest the middle.

- Oriakhi said he's been impressed with freshman DeAndre Daniels' ability to shoot the ball. "He's athletic and can defend," Oriakhi said. He said that Daniels and sophomore forward Roscoe Smith are similar players - with the primary difference being versatility and that Smith is stronger and also be play some power forward.

- Oriakhi also admitted that the key to this year's team is Shabazz Napier, who will likely become the full-time point guard with the departure of Kemba Walker. "He's our general," Oriakhi said. "As he goes, we go. He's ready - especially after a year of learning and talking to Kemba." Oriakhi also laughs when people question Napier's shooting ability. "That's crazy," he said.
Posted on: August 31, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: August 31, 2011 4:37 pm

Calhoun, UConn were always going to start easy

By Matt Norlander

The Big East expected UConn's first three games to be easy.

For most top-tier teams in most years, it is easy -- rather: unbalanced. That's really the more appropriate term. And it's unbalanced because TV networks get first pick of the best games in the best conference in basketball well before a full schedule is agreed upon. Those games are scattershot across the final six weeks of the regular season, when the sport spurts out of second gear and starts getting national recognition.

The early parts of the Big East schedule dovetail with college bowl season and the packed wildcard and divisional playoff weekends of the NFL. Networks by and large don't want hoops games in big spots at that point. So the Big East doles out underwhelming intra-conference matchups, saving the good stuff for later. It's smart business.

It's why people need to stop grousing about what was destined to be. It's hardly fair that Jim Calhoun's three-game suspension comes against inferior competition, but at the same time, it seems all too appropriate that Calhoun gets this sort of break. Having said that, there is some rightful complaining being done because, if you look at UConn's first three games in recent years, there's always one or two teams that are considered good-to-great baked into the first portion of the Huskies' schedule. This time around: at South Florida, St. John's, at Seton Hall. A change of pace, for sure, as the best of that group from last year (St. John's) graduated nine seniors.

“The (scheduling) process was the same that is has always been," Big East associate commissioner Thomas R. Odjakjian said. "We put in maybe 25 percent, manually, of the schedule. It varies year to year, and we put it into the computer."

What's interesting: Sometimes the software the league uses can't conjure up a schedule when doing a blind simulation. The unnamed software is the brainchild of Arthur Steiker, 59, who is the managing director of Bortz Media and Sports Group. The NHL, NBA, ACC and Pac-12 also use his scheduling software, which he resisted putting a price tag on. (It seems it's very, very pricey.)

The league has a computer designated at its headquarters to only be used for scheduling; that's all it does. Each summer, it's fired up and the multi-week process begins. The conference's slate is put together by computer first and checked by Big East officials after to confirm all teams jibe with what's been BINGO'd out to them. No league has as many obstacles to overcome like the 16-team Big East. No league shares more pro arenas, has more concerts, circuses and special events to plan around. The computer spits out many simulations; Odjakjian said it took more than 200 this year before one-fourth of the schedule was doable.

“If we gave the computer more than 25 percent of (the league's schedule), it would overheat. Last year we asked it to do too much, it came up with a million scenarios and no solutions," he said.

One schedule simulation can take as long as 12 hours. The Big East uses their headquarters and Bortz Media's in Denver to optimize arranging a slate as quickly as possible. It's a very tedious process, even after the big games have been tacked to dates.

"The Syracuse game was picked by CBS in February, at Syracuse. ESPN picked for GameDay the Syracuse game at Connecticut. Those games in February so obviously they were not going to be one of the first three games," Odjakjian said. "UConn never even gave us a phone call to say, ‘What are you going to do?’" When we started the process we called the athletic directors and associate athletic directors and told them how we were handling. Since CBS and ESPN didn’t want any games against other highly ranked teams in the first week of the season -- which is normal because you’ve got bowl games and less time slots, you‘ve got sweeps in February -- there were only so many teams left and that happened to be teams that came out."

There is a formula to be obeyed. No team starts with three away or home games. The matrix of the schedule is determined in early June.

"We knew people would scrutinize it closely, but that’s how it came out. There was no conspiracy at all; it was totally, totally honest process,” Odjakjian said.

Fortunately for the league, it was able to get its intra-conference schedule out at its earliest point in eight years, thanks to the NBA lockout. Last season, LeBron James' decision pushed back the NBA's scheduling, thus affecting the Big East well past its usual deadline. It's easy and understandable to lament UConn's easy break to start its Big East season, but the fact of the matter is, the odds favored this. Right or wrong, this is the math. Math never got in the way of a good conspiracy theory, though.
Posted on: June 30, 2011 1:25 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 1:36 pm

Big East slate released with an epic flaw

By Matt Norlander

We're at our most parched as sports fans when we get hot flashes over the fact a schedule has been released. It's the first tangible step and sign that we're closer to a season beginning (this year's NFL drama and dilemma excluded).

With the unveiling of the slate there's sign of rebirth and reason for true anticipation. Players and fans alike can envision the coming season, tallying up wins and losses in their heads, those tallies unfailing in their unpredictability.

The Big East, the best league in college basketball, released its intra-conference schedule today, only in opponents. The times and dates will come later this summer. It's got some hitches and glitches, most notably, the fact there's some irregularity with traditional rivals not getting home-and-home competition. The conference's premier and most storied/heated annual battle, Syracuse vs. Georgetown, will only be played once. Due to the 18-team setup, the schedule agreement is that each team plays three teams twice, six teams at home and six other teams away.

Somewhere, John Thompson II has a look of disgust on his face.

And make no mistake about it: There are plenty of ticked-off alumni on both sides of the aisle because of this, despite its precedence. It's the first time in five years the Big East has done this to Syracuse and Georgetown; many believed the Big East wouldn't clip the rivalry after so many fans on both sides felt incomplete without two games back in 2007.

When it comes to no-brainer sellouts and easy TV draws, there are certain things that shouldn't be messed with. No matter how exciting neo-rivalry Syracuse-UConn is, Orange fans want two cracks, not one, at stifling Hoya Paranoia. SU fans aren't comforted by the fact they'll get two gimme games against Providence, since it means they sacrifice a game in Washington, D.C., where plenty of Syracuse alumni are based. (Syracuse's other two-gamers are against Connecticut and Louisville.)

And Georgetown fans have to give up their home game against the Orange this year. Since the two schools were such a catalyst into turning the Big East into what it is today, league officials should really make it a point to have the teams play twice per year, no exceptions. Next season, when TCU joins and bloats the conference to an egregious 17 squads, teams will then only play the same opponent twice per season. This could be the Big East's way of telling Orange and Hoyas fans, "Deal with it. Because it's going to be slimmer pickings from here on out."

As for the rest of the league, there's plenty to like. After all, 11 teams went to The Dance last season. Georgetown and UConn get manageable slates, while Syracuse, Marquette and Cincinnati have their hands full.




DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Villanova


Connecticut, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, St. John’s, USF, Villanova, West Virginia






Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia


Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, Seton Hall, USF, Syracuse, Villanova






Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, USF, Syracuse


Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Notre Dame, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, West Virginia






Cincinnati, Connecticut, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, USF, Villanova


DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia






Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, USF, Syracuse, Villanova


Cincinnati, DePaul, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Syracuse, West Virginia






Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, USF, Villanova


Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Providence, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia






Connecticut, DePaul, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, USF, Syracuse, West Virginia


Cincinnati, Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, West Virginia






Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, USF, Villanova, West Virginia


Connecticut, DePaul, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Seton Hall, USF, Syracuse, West Virginia






Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Rutgers, Seton Hall, USF, Syracuse, West Virginia


Cincinnati, DePaul, Georgetown, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, St. John’s, USF, Syracuse, Villanova






Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Notre Dame, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia


Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Seton Hall, USF, West Virginia






Cincinnati, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Providence, Syracuse, Villanova, West Virginia


Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Seton Hall, USF






Connecticut, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, St. John’s, West Virginia


Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Marquette, Providence, Rutgers, USF, Syracuse, Villanova






Cincinnati, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, Villanova, West Virginia


DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Syracuse, Villanova






Connecticut, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Providence, Seton Hall, USF, West Virginia


Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Louisville, Notre Dame, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, Villanova






Cincinnati, Connecticut, DePaul, Marquette, Notre Dame, Providence, Seton Hall, USF, Syracuse


Cincinnati, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, St. John’s, USF, West Virginia






Cincinnati, DePaul, Georgetown, Louisville, Marquette, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Villanova


Connecticut, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, Seton Hall, USF, Syracuse


Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big East
Posted on: June 20, 2011 4:08 pm
Edited on: June 20, 2011 4:16 pm

Basketball is still king in the Big East

By Matt Norlander

College football foots the bill. It is the behemoth, the papa, the bus driver, the Grand Poobah of collegiate sports. Its existence and ever-growing power is why unprecedented, billion-dollar contracts are drafted by networks each year in the hope they'll win the rights to put college football games on television. That sport is the breadwinner in every major D-I league.

Except the Big East. Bretty McMurphy shared the news and figures about this earlier today.

The 16-team Big East is still the counterculture, bizarre, Willy Wonka-type land where football is the dark chocolate to college hoops' silky milk cocoa. A place where college basketball is still the preferred product and brings in more money to the conference than football. The 2011 NCAA tournament netted the Big East (which had a record-breaking 11 teams from the conference make the 68-team field) $24.9 million this year. The BCS landed the Big East $21.2 million. And that was before UConn had to pay the BCS for all those unsold tickets.

Given how the NFL and college football have taken over American sports in the past decade, this is a little bewildering, but not completely shocking when you consider the league's consistently had the best basketball product and the worst football one among BCS leagues since the BCS came into existence.

Here's the order of the top 10 money-getters from this year's Big Dance:

1. Big East $24.9 million
2. Big 12 $18.9 million
3. Big Ten $18.4 million
4. ACC $18.2 million
5. Pac-10 $16 million
6. SEC $15.5 million
7. Conference USA $6.9 million
8. Missouri Valley $5 million
8. Mountain West $5 million
10. Atlantic 10 $5.7 million

And if you think the NCAA numbers are just a case of volume, then think again. BusinessofCollegeSports.com released today the profit numbers for the top football and basketball universities, the numbers from the end of the 2009-10 season. The first 20 schools are football. But No. 21? Louisville -- basketball. The Cardinals were in the black at the end of the 2009-10 year by more than $16 million. No Big East football or basketball program is ranked above them nor is any football program even close. As the site notes, Louisville basketball made more money last year than any program in the ACC and Pac-10 as well.

Kentucky Wildcats fans, how do you respond to this? (I know, I'm not helping here.)

Syracuse, with a $10-million-and-change profit, was the only other Big East school ranked in the top 50, as its basketball program finished No. 41. Most of Big East basketball operated at a profit, earning more than its football counterparts; UConn hoops brought in more than $800,000, while football balanced its book to $0. That's right: It finished 2009-10 without making or losing money, the same circumstance DePaul, Seton Hall and St. John's basketball reported.

Notre Dame, the 12th-most affluent football program in the country, was the only Big East hoops outfit that lost money ($9,097).

Photo: AP
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Big East
Posted on: June 10, 2011 10:31 am

Pitino: SEC is 'second-rate' basketball league

By Matt Norlander

Rick Pitino's capability for a good quote has too often gone overlooked. Thankfully, in the doldrums of June, college basketball's second-worst month of the year (only August is worse), Pitino has delivered some fighting words. Words that will have some lasting impact by the time Kentucky and Louisville play each other around New Year's Eve.

And the words aren't even directed at Kentucky -- they're a shot at the SEC. The Louisville coach sent a verbal barb flying Wednesday in the direction of the conference, a clear response to something John Calipari said last week.

After the SEC ditched its two-division format, opting to have one league with 12 teams, giving the league a better chance at more NCAA tournament teams, Cal said, "This is no knock on the Big East but they’ve had 19 teams in the tournament the last two years and how many have made it by the first round? How is this happening? When they start playing each other they say the 11th team is really good. What? We have to figure out how you play the best schedule you can play and still win. That’s different for all of us. I think that’s more important than 16 or 18 (conference) games." 

Card Chronicle also brings up the fact Calipari, in March, said the Big East is a product of "media hype." So Pitino, the former Kentucky coach who led them to a title in '96, clearly knew what he was doing when he said this:

The coach jabbed back just a bit tonight at a Cardinal Caravan event in Shelbyville. When introducing his son, Richard, to the crowd, he said:

"(Richard) went away for a couple of years to learn how to do things in a second-rate league, then get back to the big time."

Richard Pitino spent the past two seasons in the SEC as an assistant under Billy Donovan, a Pitino disciple. It's as much a playful jab as it is an under-the-surface shot. And a truthful one. The Big East has been a better league than the SEC for most of its existence. Undeniable. And Kentucky, you'll remember, saw its 2011 season end in the Final Four at the hands of Connecticut, a Big East team.

Photo: AP
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com