Monthly Archives: July 2011

Recruiting Pitches: Guessing What Coaches Say

Gary Parrish of CBS Sports recently sat down with UCLA coach Ben Howland and discussed the misleading negative pitches that opposing coaches use on recruits. Howland makes them play defense. His offense isn’t fun. He’s not easy to play for. Coaches trying to steer potential players away from Pauley Pavillion probably use any or all of these anti-UCLA pitches. Howland just points to the 9 former Bruins in the league and how they haven’t all been Top-10 recruits like Kevin Love who would make the league (see: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ryan Hollins, Darren Collison).

This got me to thinking – If those are the attacks that Howland has to defend, what negative pitches do other coaches have to deal with and what are their counter-pitches?

John Calipari, Kentucky

What they say: “Coach Cal will be looking for your replacement before you arrive on campus and will be booting you off campus before the tournament ends. He’ll act like he’s your best friend and really cares about you, but he only cares about one person: John Calipari. He’s put two schools on probation and had their Final Fours vacated before he sneaked out-of-town. You’ll be lucky if he’s there when you arrive on campus. P.S. – he’s never won the big game.”

Please come to Kentucky now...I may have to leave by 2012.

What he fires back : “I win. Period. Everywhere I have gone, I have resurrected floundering programs. But enough about me. Let’s talk about you. What’s been your dream since you were in middle school? Play in the NBA? That’s what I thought. I can make your dream a reality. Derrick Rose, John Wall, Tyreke Evans, Marcus Camby…I can go on. I’ve had five players drafted in the first round in one individual draft. FIVE. You want to get paid to play? Play for me…I mean the NBA obviously.”

Mike Krzyzewski, Duke

What they say: “How many of Coach K’s players get drafted in the lottery? How many become stars in the NBA? Sure there’s a few, but not all that many. Coach K is worried about his legacy and his program–not your future. He’ll make you do it his way or you won’t play. Plus, it’s Duke–a small private school known for smart kids. How much fun are you going to have there?”

He fires back: “Ask any player I’ve ever coached whether they regret playing at Duke. Whether they were one of the few to leave after their first season or two (William Avery, Elton Brand, Kyrie Irving, etc.), whether they were a star on a championship team, or whether they rode the bench. I guarantee you they will look back on their experience here as some of the best years of their lives. Duke is a family, and once you’re part of the family, you’ll always be part of it. And if you’re good enough to go pro, I will support you every step of the way. Just ask Kyrie Irving. And, by the way, basketball players are gods here. Trust me, there is no better place to play.”

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under General, Opinion

Ranking the Early-Season Tournaments

The advent of early-season tournaments and invitationals over the past decade or so has really done a lot to get college basketball jump started in the month of November. Sure, it is the thick of football season, both college and pro, but these tournaments give basketball fans something to pay attention to, as they often produce some great early season match ups and give a sneak peak on what to expect from teams going forward. Last year, UConn would have remained a relatively unknown entity had they not made an impressive run in the Maui Invitational. Similar stories can be told almost every year.

More and more of these tournaments seem to be popping up every year, so I thought I’d take a look at what we have to look forward to this coming season.

Legggggo!

1. Maui Invitational, Nov. 21-23, Maui, HI 

Participants: Chaminade, Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee, UCLA

Analysis:The Maui Invitational often boasts an impressive field, and this year is no different. Duke and Kansas obviously headline this group from a prestige-perspective, but watch out for Memphis, Michigan, and possibly even UCLA to make quite a bit of noise this year. Georgetown and Tennessee won’t be as strong as they have been in previous years, but if those are two of your bottom three tournament teams, you know you have a good field.

Excited to see Austin Rivers suit up in a Duke uniform...

I like Michigan as a sleeper here, but am just as excited to see what Memphis has in store with a young but extremely talented roster coming into this season.

 2. CBE Classic, Nov. 13-17 and 21-22, Kansas City, MO

Participants: *California, *Georgia, *Missouri, *Notre Dame; Rest of field TBA (* – automatically advance to championship round)

Analysis: The Kansas City location isn’t necessarily glamorous, but this tournament will be quite competitive this year. This is one of those tournaments where most of the field will participate in play-in games at different sites to see who makes it to KC, but the teams slated to automatically advance are a solid group. California should be the favorites.

3. Coaches vs. Cancer, Nov. 7-11 and 17-18, New York, NY

Participants: *Arizona, *Mississippi State, *St. John’s, *Texas A&M; Rest of field TBA (* – automatically advance to championship round)

Analysis: Coaches vs. Cancer is always a popular tournament, especially since it is played in Madison Square Garden and always is televised in prime time on ESPN. The field this year features teams with a lot to prove after losing key guys off of their squads from last season. Arizona has an exciting young class coming in, and St. John’s will certainly be a hometown favorite. Texas A&M may have the most talent, but will be adjusting to a new coach. Wouldn’t be surprised to see a team from the play-in field make a run here.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under General, Opinion

The Legend of Victor Page

Page and AI dominated at Georgetown.

The Kenner League is an NCAA sanctioned summer basketball league that is played at McDonough Arena on the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. For hoops junkies, it is the Mecca of Basketball in the District that fills the basketball void that exists from the end of the NBA Finals in June to the beginning of Midnight Madness in October (at least for us cowards who aren’t brave enough to take in the games at the Goodman League at the Barry Farms projects).

The Kenner League is a free event (which is exceedingly rare in this economy) whose main purpose is to develop Georgetown’s freshman who all play on the same team. In 1994 a skinny freshman from Hampton, Virginia made his debut in the District at the Kenner League and cemented his legend. The Kenner League is also a Pro-Am comprised of college and NBA players with district roots. So in a game you can have local legends such as Isaiah Swann (formerly of Magruder High School and Florida State University) running the break with guys like James Gist (Good Counsel/Maryland) or Jeff Allen (Dematha/Virginia Tech), or Jeff Green blocking a Chris Wright attempt off the backboard. And who is that watching in the stands? Is that Patrick Ewing? Is that Alonzo Mourning? Is that Victor Page? Wait a minute, Victor Page? Oh, boy. This changes the story. It was at the most recent summer league game that I saw Victor. He was the player that forever changed the Georgetown basketball program. Fourteen years later, my feelings about him remain mixed.

Continue reading

12 Comments

Filed under General

Freshmen Focus: Who to watch in 2012

While most college coaches have been hitting the road and attending the summer all-star recruiting camps, Mayo and I decided to give a quick run-down on a bunch of formerly sought-after recruits who will be freshmen in the fall.The 2011 Class was loaded with talent and many will become instant household-names (if they aren’t already). But we’ll also look at a couple of the more intriguing recruits and a few sleepers too.

Best Incoming

Anthony Davis, PF, Kentucky:

Davis will give the Wildcats another weapon in the post.

I’m taking Kentucky’s Anthony Davis here. Davis is many people’s consensus #1 recruit of this year’s class, so I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Davis’ combination of size and athleticism is tantalizing, and what’s more: he’s an impact guy on both ends of the floor. What will be interesting to me is how Davis will fit in with incumbent power forward Terrence Jones, who decided to stay at Kentucky for his sophomore year. Jones’ presence might curtail some of Davis’ impact as a freshman, but there is no doubt about the talent that he brings to the table. John Calipari will have one of those good problems of figuring out how to use both effectively at the same time. (Mayo)

James McAdoo, PF, North Carolina: The McDonald’s All-American Game MVP is an athletic specimen who like Davis can dominate on offense and defense. I’ve said before that McAdoo’s joining a loaded Tar Heel team that is very deep in the front court (Zeller, Henson, Barmes); but that’s not going to prevent the explosive McAdoo from seeing the court. He’s just too talented not to. Roy Williams has had deep teams before and he usually experiments a lot during November and December before finding a rotation he likes for conference play. Expect to see McAdoo getting 25-plus minutes and a spot on the NCAA All-Freshmen Team. (Giblin)

Biggest Impact

Tony Wroten, PG, Washington: Isaiah Thomas was the key spark for the Huskies when Abdul Gady went down with an injury last year but declared early for the draft leaving a void to be filled by the powerful lefty. Washington has some depth in the backcourt but Wroten, former Husky Nate Robinson’s cousin, has the size and skills to start at the point from day 1. He’s a legit 6’4” who uses his size well and distributes the ball very well. He’ll make an immediate impact and his play will go a long way toward’s deciding the champs of the Pac-10 (12?). Any guy who crosses up John Wall this bad is going to have a BIG impact (Green #1, 0:30 mark…might want to mute that horrendous music). (Giblin)

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Opinion, Recruiting

NBA’s European Migration: A Benefit for NCAA?

By: Tim Speros (Special Contributor to EMM)

Remember Keanu Reeves and Gene Hackman in The Replacements? No? Ok, the movie wasn’t an Oscar winner but I enjoyed it. Who wouldn’t want to be Keanu in that situation? You’re dating the head cheerleader for a pro sports team and have your own boat.  Boss!

Gene Hackman is a BOSS!

How does this relate to the NBA?  If a new CBA is not put in place before Halloween, (the usual time of the NBA season tip off) millions of fans will be disappointed when they have to stream footage of Bestikas (on eurohoops.net/ we now have game.html) or to see Deron Williams cut in and out (on their screen, not on the court).

Let’s say this lockout does not end, couldn’t the NBA owners just find replacement players?  I’m sure there are plenty of guys out there who would play in the NBA for say $300,000.00 a year. The minimum NBA salary last year was about $472,000.

This could be ideal for the NCAA, their current players, and former stars.  This could help college basketball become more competitive and more exciting.  Recent NBA drafts have consisted of mostly college freshman, sophomores, and international players. Before that, (before the draft rule changed a few years ago) kids were going from high school to the NBA and the NCAA was losing talent.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under General, NBA Draft, Opinion

NCAA: Quit Pretending. Go Back to Your Roots.

I’m not the first columnist or blogger to announce to the world that the NCAA has an image problem.  By now, it’s brutally obvious, what with the Terrelle Pryor/OSU scandal topping the list of blemishes against the NCAA over a myriad of other issues. Plain and simple, the NCAA has chosen to adopt the approach of unaccountability, under-supervision, and acceptance of the utter disregard its constituent universities show towards its already-flaky set of rules. With Congress giving them a tough run for their money, NCAA executives are currently leading the race for least trusted and most despised public figures in America (source: Conor Murphy).

It’s almost depressing to consider the way the NCAA and media attempt desperately to turn prima donnas into role models.  After watching the NCAA Lacrosse playoffs, I started to consider myself a failure, having never saved an entire village from famine or accomplished a feat of similar magnitude. Apparently, a bunch of players on the field at any given time had done so, or at least made a valiant attempt, while a substantial number of their best friends sat on the sidelines for “undisclosed disciplinary reasons”. (NB: I have the utmost respect for the way the UMD team overcame their adversity, and this is in no way meant to be a criticism of that team or the media’s paying attention to that story).  The fact of the matter is that enough negative stories have surfaced over the years that the NCAA’s propaganda, across all its sports, isn’t fooling me anymore, and I suspect there are more and more fans soon to join my camp.

Am I going to stop watching? No. I have a blog to write. Will the casual observer? Maybe. So if I were running the NCAA, I’d be deep in the process of developing alternate strategies to make the on-field (court) product better, and the depressing behind-the-scenes stories a little bit easier to take. Of course, the governing body of the NCAA is probably not doing this, but I am (and therein lies the problem).  I have an idea that certainly won’t cure the NCAA’s problems, but it might just help lift its image a little bit.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under General, Opinion

NBA Draft Reflective: Notable Decisions to Leave Early and Their Outcomes

Every year there are underclassmen who declare for the draft, and when their announcements scroll across ESPN’s Bottom Line, you think, “Really?” This year, I believe the thinking for some of the guys in that category would have been: this year’s draft class is weak, there is opportunity to go higher and thus make more money if I come out a year early.

Or it’s just: I’m tired of being broke.

Guys like Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams, for example, wouldn’t fall into this category because it was more-or-less a given that those two were leaving early and going 1-2. In any case, here’s a look at some of the more, perhaps, interesting decisions to leave early and how they turned out after the fact.

Great Decisions

Tristan Thompson, Texas, #4 to Cleveland

Thompson was always considered a pro prospect, but his numbers his only year at Texas weren’t at the level where you figured it was a given he would come out. But Thompson climbed up a lot of draft boards throughout the evaluation prospects, landing in Cleveland at #4, where in more than one mock draft had him on the edge of the lottery when he declared. Next season, there is no way Thompson goes this high–the 2012 class will more than likely be absolutely stacked at the power forward position.

Knight may have had aspirations of being a top-3 pick, but staying in the top ten should be a win overall.

Brandon Knight, Kentucky, #8 to Detroit

Yeah, yeah, yeah–Knight could have gone as high as #3 or #4 in this draft depending on how a few dominoes fell early on, but a) he stayed in the top ten, but also b) Knight has a serious question mark about whether he can play a true point guard in the NBA. I personally think he can, but I digress. Another year in school may have helped prove to NBA teams that he could play that position in the league, but it also could have damaged his draft stock if he didn’t ease the concerns for a second straight year. I think getting taken eighth overall was pretty much right on target for Knight, as he probably had more risk than reward if he came back for his sophomore season.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under General, NBA Draft, Opinion

Why did Stanford renew Johnny Dawkins’ contract?

Johnny Dawkins, the former Duke basketball player and assistant coach, has signed an extension with Stanford to remain their head coach through the 2015-2016 season. But with three years remaining on his original contract and a ho-hum 49-48 overall record, why would Stanford sign him to an extension?

Will Dawkins' extension help him on the recruiting trail? It better.

Only one reason seems possible: to help Dawkins on the recruiting trail. Jon Wilner of the Mercury News explains it well:

The extension is partly a show of support for Dawkins, who’s 49-48 in three years (no NCAA appearances) and oversees a program slipping into irrelevance — even on its own campus. But it’s largely a recruiting necessity: It allows him to hit the road this month and tell rising juniors and seniors that he’s under contract at Stanford for the entirety of their college careers.

This makes a lot of sense. Stanford wants to improve its basketball program and this will hopefully help Dawkins turn it around on the recruiting trail and land some impact players for the Cardinal. Plus, it’s relatively risk-less. In the world of college athletics, a lot of these contract extensions are meaningless as the school’s protect themselves with “out-clauses” that let them get rid of the coach with limited financial loss.

Dawkins better hope that recruiting improves and results follow, but it won’t be easy. The Pac-10 has been relatively weak the past few years but it won’t be down for long (see: improving Washington, Arizona, UCLA, USC). If Dawkins doesn’t have the Cardinal dancing in one of the next two years, he won’t get a dime from this contract extension.

Leave a comment

Filed under Coaching Carousel

Thursday TwitHitters: Draft Recap

After a week (and a lockout) to gather our thoughts, we came up with our three best/worst picks in this year’s NBA Draft.

Disagree? Want to argue your point? Tell us why. We love arguing.

Best Picks:

MAYO

1) Chris Singleton, 18th, Washington WizardsIn a draft full of likely role players, getting the best defensive player in the draft as far down as no. 18 is great value. He is a great athlete who can get up and down the floor and has the potential to be an above-average spot-up-jump-shooter. The most underrated aspect is the attitude he will bring to a team that, quite frankly, was soft last year.

Singleton = Steal of the Draft.

2) Brandon Knight, 8th, Detroit Pistons – Mocks had Knight going as high as no. 3 to the Jazz, so the Pistons get a steal at no. 8. Knight has the tools and versatility to emerge as one of the best players in this draft, if you ask me. He will take some time to develop, but his size and athleticism at the point guard spot, coupled with the fact that he’s as skilled as he is…great pick.

3) Bismack Biyombo, 7th, Charlotte Bobcats – BISMACK! When you’re a rebuilding team you need to find a star or two, but just as importantly you need guys who provide energy, defense, and rebounding on a consistent basis. Check, check, and check for Biyombo, who has all the makings of a potential Defensive POY award winner. Charlotte can consider their rim protected with this pick.

GIBLIN

1) Kemba Walker, 9th, Charlotte Bobcats – Michael Jordan might have failed on his first pick (see below), but he made up for it with this pick. Kemba is a champion, a tireless worker, and a media darling. When is the last time the Bobcats had anyone they could really market? Stephen Jackson? Gerald Wallace? Ehh. Now they have Kemba. He’ll become an instant fan favorite and will eventually replace D.J. Augustin at the point.

2) Chris Singleton, 18th, Washington Wizards- This pick made the most sense out of any in the draft- a lottery talent and best defensive player in the draft falls to a team that was absolutely abysmal on their end of the court last who needs help on the wing. Hmm…yea that was as easy a pick as it gets for Ernie Grunfield. Some Wizards fans wanted him at the 6th pick. Getting Singleton here was what made Washington the winners on draft night.

3) JuJuan Johnson, 27, Boston Celtics – Quick. Who was the Big Ten POY last year? Nope, not Jared Sullinger. It was JJ. He was absolutely incredible averaging 21 points, 9 boards, and 2 blocks a game. Any Celtic fan will tell you how much Big Baby SUCKED last year in the post-season and won’t be crying when the headcase leaves. Johnson is exactly the type of player that can help the Celtics aging front-court and KG can take under his wing as the Cs make one last run at a title (lockout pending).

LUKE

1)  Brandon Knight, 8th, Detroit Pistons –Dropping all the way to #8, Knight is a steal at this point for the Pistons. Rodney Stuckey hasn’t quite panned out as Joe Dumars and the Detroit front office has hoped, so Knight is a great insurance policy. Plus, both Stuckey and Knight can play both guard positions, so don’t be surprised to see them on the court together at times.

Did Joe Dumars benefit from MJ taking Biyombo over Knight? We say yes.

2) Kawhi Leonard, 15th, San Antonio Spurs – Before the draft, many experts had Leonard pegged as a top-six pick. But on draft night, he found himself free-falling harder than a Tom Petty song. Luckily, Leonard got scooped up at 15 by the Pacers and then shipped out to San Antonio where he will have the pleasure of learning behind Tim Duncan for at least one year, before taking over for the big fella.

3) Alec Burks, 12th, Utah Jazz – Burks sat around and watched as Klay Thompson and the Jimmer were taken just ahead of him. I’m sure the message was received loud and clear, as Burks realized that teams were a little down on him. But, the shooting-guard with the most talents in this year’s draft should use that as more motivation, as he fits in alongside Devin Harris and 2010 #1 pick Gordon Heyward in Utah.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under General, NBA Draft, TwitHitters