Posted on: November 23, 2010 12:08 pm

Good night of college hoops on tap

Tonight should be a great night to settle in and watch hoops on television.

I'll be flying to Orlando for the Old Spice Classic.

So hopefully my flight has reliable WiFi.

Either way, here's what's on tap:
  • No. 2 Michigan State vs. Connecticut in Maui at 7 ET
  • No. 3 Ohio State vs. Morehead State at 7 ET
  • No. 8 Kentucky vs. No. 13 Washington in Maui at 9:30 ET
  • No. 1 Duke vs. No. 4 Kansas State in Kansas City at 10 ET
That's two Hall of Fame coaches (Tom Izzo and Jim Calhoun) meeting in the first game, two elite big men (Jared Sullinger and Kenneth Faried) battling in the second game, two former teammates (Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross) competing in the third game, and two top five teams (the Blue Devils and Wildcats) squaring off in the fourth game. It's not bad for a Tuesday in November. Or any day in any month, really.
Posted on: November 15, 2010 11:57 am
Edited on: November 15, 2010 11:58 am

UK freshmen are already at it again

Kentucky's Terrence Jones won SEC Freshman of the Week honors Monday.

It was no surprise.

The 6-foot-9 forward got 25 points and 12 rebounds in Friday's win over East Tennessee State, and that's almost always gonna take the award unless Brandon Knight or Doron Lamb one-ups Jones, which is my way of saying you can expect a Wildcat to win SEC Freshman of the Week honors more times than not for the second straight year.

A Kentucky freshman won it 11 of 17 times last season.

This season should be similar considering Jones, Knight and Lamb combined for 62 points against ETSU.
Posted on: November 11, 2010 7:54 pm
Edited on: November 11, 2010 8:02 pm

Kentucky loses Kanter, gains a ceiling

"If Kentucky gets Enes Kanter eligible, I'm recruiting Ricky Rubio next year."

That's what a coach told me a couple of months back, and I think he was joking but I can't say for sure. Either way, what I took from that statement was this: The NCAA allowing Kanter to play despite his background as a professional basketball player in Turkey would, in the eyes of most everybody outside of Kentucky, set a dangerous precedent. That's why I said on a radio show in Louisville on Wednesday that I did not believe the NCAA would clear Kanter, and why I wasn't stunned when the NCAA announced Thursday that it has ruled the UK freshman permanently ineligible.

Kentucky will appeal, of course.

But good luck with that.

The reality is that the NCAA has concluded that Kanter received $33,000 above his necessary expenses for the 2008-09 season with a professional team in Turkey, and there's little reason to think any lawyer will be able to make the NCAA conclude otherwise. Essentially, Kanter is a professional regardless of what those pushing his cause insisted. And though I realize the ongoing saga centered around Auburn quarterback Cam Newton suggests otherwise, professionals -- or anybody whose amateur status has been knowingly and seriously compromised -- still aren't allowed to compete under the NCAA umbrella.

So what now for the Wildcats?

Smallball, for starters.

This development -- combined with Daniel Orton's unexpected jump to the NBA after one season -- has Calipari operating with a roster short on tall people. Terrence Jones is a 6-foot-9 freshman who is talented. But when Scout.com lists one of your weaknesses as "post play," well, that's a decent indication that you're not ready to be DeMarcus Cousins. In all seriousness, Jones is good, and he'll be good. But he's not a natural lowpost presence, and he'll have to drastically adjust his mindset to serve as UK's top post player because I don't believe Eloy Vargas, a 6-11 junior, is a difference-maker down low.

Beyond that, it's mostly just a bunch of guards and wings.

They're gifted guards and wings, to be sure, gifted enough, in fact, to still lead Kentucky to very good things. But whereas last season's Wildcats had no ceiling, these Wildcats almost certainly do now. This team will likely prove to be one player away from greatness, and that one player will end up being the guy the NCAA took away Thursday.
Posted on: October 30, 2010 6:57 pm

Elite point guard decommits from Texas

Myck Kabongo, MaxPreps.com's No. 2 point guard in the Class of 2011, publicly decommitted from Texas on Saturday and told recruiting analyst Dave Telep that he's now considering Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Syracuse in addition to the Longhorns.

"I'm not opening it up to everybody, but I'm going to open it to certain schools," Kabongo said. "I'll look at Syracuse, Duke, North Carolina, Texas and Kentucky. That's it."

Kabongo committed to Texas in January 2009.

He's now the nation's highest-rated available recruit.
Posted on: September 27, 2010 2:58 pm
Edited on: September 27, 2010 3:00 pm

It was only a matter of time ...

Kentucky fans have moved on to their latest cause now that the Eric Bledsoe case is behind them.

That cause is Enes Kanter.

The 6-foot-11 center hasn't yet been cleared to play as a freshman because of questions about his amateur status stemming from his association with a professional club in Turkey. Fed up with the delay, somebody named Rich Breezy has posted a "Free Enes" rap on YouTube.

Click this link and enjoy.

Or roll your eyes.


It's worth a click regardless of how you feel about the case or Kentucky in general.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 25, 2010 12:29 pm

One last thing on Bledsoe (I promise)

Can I say one more thing about the Eric Bledsoe story?


I'm not outraged by the decision.

Honest to God, I'm not.

Just confused.

As I wrote last week, I do not think it's right for the NCAA to punish a school for playing a player it initially cleared. So I was never publicly or privately hoping that Kentucky would vacate the season if Bledsoe's transcript was retroactively changed in a way that would give him a 2.3 grade point average in his high school core classes. I merely pointed out that the Derrick Rose case at Memphis seemed to set a precedent for strict liability, and that it would be difficult for the NCAA to explain why Memphis had to vacate that season if Kentucky didn't have to vacate this season provided Bledsoe's transcript was retroactively changed in a way that would've never made him eligible at Kentucky.

But the Birmingham Board of Education isn't going to change the transcript.

So it's all a moot point now.

Over and done, far as I'm concerned.

Either way, my post from Friday night wasn't about how wrong it is that Kentucky won't have to vacate the season; it was about how confusing it is that the Birmingham Board of Education can hire a firm to investigate the matter, then disregard the firm's conclusion. And, yes, I know all about the "makeup work" Bledsoe supposedly did, know that's the reason the teacher said he changed Bledsoe's grade from a C to an A. My point was that the independent and reputable firm hired to investigate the matter doesn't believe the teacher's reasons for changing the grade are credible, which, in my mind, suggests the grades were changed inappropriately.

Now let me ask a serious question.

(Just play along, please.)

Imagine there was a gradebook that showed Bledsoe initially had an A in the class, but his transcript showed a C, and there was an investigation into this grade change, because it made Bledsoe ineligible to play as a freshman when he, according to the initial grades, should've been eligible. So the Birmingham Board of Education hires a firm to investigate, and that firm then asks the teacher why he changed 10 of Bledsoe's 14 grades from the first term and seven of Bledsoe's 10 grades from the second term, and why he changed Bledsoe's grades more than he changed any other students' grades.

Now imagine the teacher has his reasons.

Imagine the teacher says it's because Bledsoe was tardy for 11 classes, that he caught him cheating on three tests, whatever. It doesn't matter what the reasons are, exactly, just imagine that the teacher has his reasons for changing the grade from an A to a C. Now imagine the firm hired to investigate listens to all the reasons, but ultimately concludes the teacher has "no credible reasons" for changing Bledsoe's grade from an A to a C.

(Got all that?)

Now here's my question: Would you still stand by the teacher?

If not, then what you're telling me is that you think it's crazy for a teacher to be allowed to change grades for what an independent and reputable firm called no credible reasons, which means you agree with me that what happened Friday in Birmingham is crazy because the only difference between what really happened with Bledsoe and my hypothetical situation with Bledsoe is that in one scenario the grade was changed from a C to an A to make him eligible, and in the other scenario the grade was changed from an A to a C to make him ineligible. Both changes were made, according to a firm hired to investigate, without credible reasons. And if a change made without credible reasons that hurts a student-athlete is wrong, then I think a change made without credible reasons that helps a student-athlete should be wrong, too.

So that's my position.

And I hope this clarifies things.

If not, man, I give up.

It's Saturday for crying out loud.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 24, 2010 11:24 pm
Edited on: September 25, 2010 8:51 am

Bama: Where grades change w/o credible reasons

The curious case of Eric Bledsoe appears to be closed now that the Birmingham Board of Education has ruled that Kentucky's third-best one-and-done product from last season won't have his transcript retroactively altered despite the fact than an independent and reputable law firm hired to investigate the matter found no credible reason for Bledsoe's grade in Algebra III to have ever been changed from a C to an A.

And so Kentucky fans are celebrating.


Nevermind that the law firm discovered that 10 of Bledsoe's scores in the first term were "conspicuously changed," that seven of Bledsoe's 10 scores in the second term were "conspicuously changed," and that the teacher in question changed Bledsoe's grades "more frequently than those of any other students in his class." The Board of Education still ruled that Bledsoe's transcript will remain intact because the firm could prove no wrongdoing.

Which begs the question: Really?

I mean, isn't a grade being changed for no credible reason in and of itself proof of wrongdoing?

Think of it in Walmart terms.

Let's say a guy named Larry works in the Wii section, and he changes the price of Mario Kart from $39.99 to $9.99. Then some manager notices the change and asks Larry to explain. So Larry does, and the manager concludes Larry's reasons for changing the price are not credible.

Now imagine Larry getting off because it's subsequently decided that the manager can't "prove" wrongdoing.

Does that make any sense?

Again, isn't the wrongdoing obvious -- that a price was changed for no credible reason?

I'm not sure why lowering a price without a credible reason wouldn't be proof of wrongdoing in that situation just like I'm not sure why raising a grade point average without a credible reason isn't proof of wrongdoing in this situation, but whatever. Like I said up top, this case is now closed. But that doesn't make it any simpler to understand, and it sure as hell isn't something to be celebrated.
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: September 23, 2010 9:26 am
Edited on: September 23, 2010 9:35 am

NCAA should get out of the eligibility business

Jay Bilas is one of my favorite figures in the world of college basketball. He's very good at what he does, smart and thoughtful, and just a solid dude in general. I don't agree with Jay on every topic, but even when we disagree I know it's not because he's just trying to be different. He believes what he says, and he's one of the few guys who can make me rethink my position if it differs from his. That's a compliment, I think. But it's also irrelevant to this post, because what I wanted to mention here is something Jay and I agree on, and that something is this:
The NCAA should get out of the eligibility business. Its member institutions are perfectly capable of making admission and eligibility decisions on their own. Jay wrote that over at ESPN.com while focusing on the Eric Bledsoe situation.

I'm with him 100 percent.

We can debate forever whether Bledsoe was inappropriately given an A instead of a C in Algebra III as a senior in high school, debate whether his transcript should be retroactively changed, and debate what the NCAA should do if that happens. But the ideal situation, Jay thinks (and I agree), would be the NCAA someday soon taking a step back and letting Duke admit and play who it wants to admit and play, Kentucky admit and play who it wants to admit and play, West Virginia admit and play who it wants to admit and play, and on down the line (provided the players are still amateurs by the NCAA's standards). I don't think anybody is operating under the assumption that Memphis and Stanford have the same academic guidelines. What's OK at one school isn't OK at the other, nor should it be. So why doesn't the NCAA remove itself from the equation and let Memphis and Stanford decide what's good for Memphis and Stanford in terms of academic requirements? It would put eligibility back into the hands of schools, eliminate a lot of the NCAA's biggest headaches, and make much more sense than the current system that has programs getting penalized for playing players they were initially told it was OK to play.
Category: NCAAB
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com