Posted on: August 13, 2010 7:16 pm

My Five for Friday column

Click this link to read my Five for Friday column.

It's on Trevor Mbakwe, Myron Strong, and Jim Delany's comments about baskebtall recruiting.
Posted on: August 12, 2010 7:19 pm

Minnesota reinstates Mbakwe

Trevor Mbakwe was reinstated to the Minnesota basketball team Thursday hours after he agreed to enter a pre-trial intervention program that is allowing the 6-foot-8 forward to avoid trial on a felony assault charge.

"This process has been difficult and I am relieved it is finally being resolved," said Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi. "It's now time to move on, and I am glad that he is going have an opportunity to be a member of our basketball program with two years of eligibility remaining."

Maturi said coach Tubby Smith was out of town, but that he'll soon meet with Mbakwe to determine his role with the program. It's now believed Mbakwe will remain at Minnesota and play for the Gophers this season. But the former junior college standout has previously expressed an interest in transferring, causing some to speculate he could relocate in the interest of a "fresh start," perhaps at Memphis or Georgia Tech.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: August 12, 2010 1:09 pm
Edited on: August 12, 2010 1:42 pm

Mbakwe avoids trial, enters intervention program

Minnesota basketball player Trevor Mbakwe has avoided a trial on a felony assault charge by agreeing to enter a pre-trial intervention program that requires him to perform 100 hours of community service and make a $100 donation to a facility for abuse victims, the Pioneer-Press reported Thursday.

Miami-Dade state attorney's office spokeswoman Terry Chavez told the paper via email that enrollment in the program "is NOT an admission of guilt nor is it a plea." She added that if Mbakwe completes the program, no criminal conviction will be on his record. The program is expected to last six months.

"After lengthy defense continuances in this case [which primarily appear to have been based around the defense's desire to depose every witness listed in the case and develop their own expert witnesses — which is their right], Mr. Mbakwe has decided that the PTI Program is the most appropriate disposition for this case," Chavez wrote. "The victim was in full agreement with the decisions made in this case."

The question now is whether this is enough for Minnesota to allow Mbakwe -- who was accused in April 2009 of attacking a female near his junior college campus in Florida -- to compete this season, or if Memphis -- a school Mbakwe visited recently after acknowledging he was considering a transfer -- would accept the forward if he chose to relocate. Both schools have suggested they'd play Mbakwe if he was "cleared of the charges," but enrollment in the pre-trial intervention program doesn't mean he's been cleared any more than it means he's been found guilty. It's just a compromise, for lack of a better word, a way for the prosecution to avoid the possibility of losing a high-profile case, a way for Mbakwe to avoid a trial that could've possibly resulted in a jail sentence.

One thing worth noting: There has been some speculation that Mbakwe could transfer to another Division I school, like Memphis, and get a waiver from the NCAA to play immediately. But sources familiar with the situation have told CBSSports.com that a waiver would be "highly unlikely," meaning Mbakwe's realistic options seem to be staying at Minnesota and playing this season (provided Minnesota allows it) or transferring, sitting out a season per normal NCAA transfer rules, and resuming his college career in 2011-12.

For what it's worth, Myron Medcalf, Minnesota beat writer for the Star-Tribune, Tweeted Thursday that he spoke with Mbakwe's lawyer, who told him he expects Mbakwe to remain at Minnesota and play this season. Minnesota officials, including coach Tubby Smith, have yet to comment.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 27, 2010 11:21 am
Edited on: March 27, 2010 11:24 am

Minnesota 'can't pay' Smith what Oregon could

HOUSTON -- It's been 11 days since Oregon fired Ernie Kent, and there's still no coach in place.

But that could change soon if the school moves away from its top candidates.

It's no secret that Oregon -- backed by the money of Nike founder Phil Knight -- would love to make a big hire like Mark Few, Jamie Dixon or Billy Donovan, but that seems unlikely at this point because Few and Dixon have little interest in leaving Gonzaga and Pittsburgh -- remember, either could've had the Arizona job last year -- and anything west of the Mississippi River is unfamiliar territory (and probably too far from home) for Donovan, a New York native who has won two national titles at Florida.

That leaves the next tier of candidates headlined by Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon and Minnesota's Tubby Smith.

Prediction: Oregon will land one of those two.

It's worth noting only Texas A&M seems willing to fight for its coach.

"We will make every effort to make sure Mark Turgeon remains our coach," Texas A&M athletics director Bill Byrne, coincidentally also a former Oregon athletics director, told The Register-Guard. "And Ducks who remember me will know how hard I'll work to do that. … My [job] is to keep Mark Turgeon as the coach of the Aggies."

Minnesota athletic director Joel Maturi isn't as enthusiastic about trying to keep Smith.

"Somebody will offer him $3 million," Maturi told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. "We can't pay him $3 million."

Bottom line, Oregon probably won't get Few, Dixon or Donovan, but Turgeon and Smith are realistic options.

One of the latter two will likely be offered and accept the position in the next week.

Just depends on which coach Oregon officials want to purchase.
Posted on: March 6, 2010 10:48 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2010 1:32 am

Report: Kent out at Oregon

Oregon officials have predictably decided to end Ernie Kent's tenure as head basketball coach, CBS affiliate KVAL reported late Saturday. The station cited sources and said Kent's termination will take effect immediately following Oregon's final game.

According to the report, a formal announcement is expected in the next 48 hours.

Kent is in his 12th season at the school.

The Ducks finished 10th in the Pac-10 last season and ninth this season.

Kent and Oregon athletic director Mike Bellotti both declined comment on the report late Saturday.

Gonzaga's Mark Few is an obvious candidate to replace Kent, but he's passed on the opportunity to move to Oregon multiple times -- including after last season -- and would likely do so again barring a change of heart. One source told CBSSports.com that some Oregon officials (and power-brokers at Nike) are enamored with Jay Wright, but nobody thinks the Villanova coach would take the Pac-10 job.

Texas A&M's Mark Turgeon is one established coach who will be a likely candidate.

Minnesota's Tubby Smith is another.
Posted on: November 30, 2009 10:05 pm
Edited on: December 1, 2009 4:20 pm

The Poll Attacks

I just returned home from California.

I'm sick.

I'm tired.

I'm sick and tired of dumb voters.

The only cure is to Poll Attack the stupid and their stupidity.

AP poll: You know how people eat turkey on Thanksgiving, then get really tired and fall asleep?

That's got to be what happened to John Bohnenkamp.

How else to explain Bohnenkamp -- the sports editor of The Hawk Eye newspaper in Iowa -- putting Illinois at No. 21 on his AP ballot despite the Illini losing to unranked Utah on Friday and unranked Bradley on Saturday? It's the type of inexplicable move on which the Poll Attacks were created. Understand, Utah has losses to Idaho and Seattle, plus a 77-55 loss to Oklahoma State while Bradley has double-digit losses to BYU and Oklahoma State. So it's not like the Illini lost to Syracuse and Texas over the weekend. They lost to Utah and Bradley. And it's not like the Illini have great wins to offset the bad losses. They've only beaten Wofford, Northern Illinois, Presbyterian and SIU-Edwardsville.

So how does a 4-2 team with no good wins and two bad losses end up No. 21 on Bohnenkamp's ballot?

I have no freaking idea.

He's either still asleep, clueless or careless.

There's no other explanation.

Coaches poll: Do the games matter?

That's a serious question.

Do. The. Games. Matter?

I ask because I sat courtside in Anaheim last Thursday and watched Minnesota beat Butler 82-73, at which point the Gophers advanced to the semifinals of the 76 Classic while the Bulldogs went into the consolation bracket. Minnesota went on to finish 1-2 in the 76 Classic with a win over Butler and losses to Portland and Texas A&M, ending the week with an overall record of 4-2. Likewise, Butler went on to finish 1-2 in the 76 Classic with a win over UCLA and losses to Minnesota and Clemson, ending the week with an overall record of 4-2.

In other words, Minnesota and Butler had the same record last week.

They have the same record now.

And their records only include reasonable losses.

Honestly, there isn't much difference between Butler's body of work of Minnesota's body of work, except for that Butler doesn't have any notable victories and Minnesota has one notable victory ... over Butler! So shouldn't that be the tiebreaker? Shouldn't Minnesota's win over Butler have Minnesota ranked ahead of Butler? Of course it should. But Butler is No. 20 in the Coaches poll and Minnesota is ninth in "others receiving votes." That sort of logic -- or lack of logic -- is also what has Michigan State ranked No. 9 and Florida ranked No. 17 even though Michigan State is 5-1 with a loss to Florida while Florida is 6-0 with a win over Michigan State.

So I ask again: Do the games matter?

To me, they do.

That's why I have Minnesota ahead of Butler and Florida ahead of Michigan State, because head-to-head competition (particularly on a neutral court) should serve as a tiebreaker when two schools' bodies of work are similar. Minnesota's body of work is similar to Butler's body of work just like Florida's body of work is similar to Michigan State's body of work. The only differences are that Minnesota beat Butler and Florida beat Michigan State. They should be ranked accordingly at this point in the season unless, of course, the games don't matter.
Posted on: November 27, 2009 12:23 am
Edited on: November 27, 2009 12:28 am

That wasn't the Butler I know and love

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Butler turned the ball over 21 times, shot 21.7 percent from 3-point range and endured a 30-minute stretch during which All-American candidate Gordon Hayward did not make a field goal. So yeah, the 12th-ranked Bulldogs lost 82-73 to 22nd-ranked Minnesota late Thursday. But before dismissing them as all hype, it's important to understand that just about everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and that Butler is unlikely to be off in so many different ways too often.

"We did not play as well as we would've liked," said Butler coach Brad Stevens. "Give Minnesota credit."

Indeed, Minnesota deserves some credit. The Gophers used a balanced attack (five players with at least nine points) and deep bench (46 of the 82 points came from reserves) to fluster Butler, and that Tubby Smith's team shot 47.4 percent from 3-point range didn't hurt, either. So I guess what I'm saying is that Minnesota was about as good as it could be and that Butler was about as bad as it could be. And though those things probably have something to do with each other, I'm not going to let Thursday's loss greatly alter my opinion of the Bulldogs.

Another loss Friday, though, and I'll have to reshuffle.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: November 25, 2009 12:21 pm

I'm spending Thanksgiving in Anaheim

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- I'll be spending the next four days less than a mile from Disneyland, where the eight-team 76 Classic has somehow put together the best field of any early season tournament given how all eight schools involved have reasonable expectations to make the NCAA tournament.

Butler is the Horizon favorite, Long Beach State is the Big West favorite, and West Virginia, Clemson, Minnesota, Texas A&M and UCLA are each expected to, at the very least, earn an at-large bid. The only 76 Classic participant not in my preseason Projecting the Field is Portland. But the Pilots are 3-0 and widely viewed as Gonzaga's biggest threat in the West Coast Conference. They already own a win over Oregon. They could get their second victory over a Pac-10 team Thursday when they close the first day of action with a game against Ben Howland's Bruins.

"If you're a collegebasketball fan, this is a great time of the year," said Texas A&M coach Mark Turgeon. "This is a fantastic field. When we [agreed to be a part of it], we knew it was going to be a good field. But they've added a couple of teams since then. There are four teams in the Top 25, and we're not one of them, and we like to think we're pretty good. So it's a great field."

The four Top 25 teams in the field are No. 8 West Virginia, No. 12 Butler, No. 19 Clemson and No. 22 Minnesota. All five power-conference schools involved (West Virginia, Clemson, Minnesota, Texas A&M and UCLA) plus Butler made the NCAA tournament last season. Click this link to check out the bracket.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com