Tag Archives: Recruiting

Mike Brey: Finally Something the NCAA Can Cheer About

The NCAA has had a pretty rough year.

Ohio State. North Carolina. LSU. Oregon. USC. Connecticut. Tennessee. We could keep going- the list goes on and on. All  these schools have either been hit with heavy NCAA violations or are currently being investigated for possible violations. Athletic Directors and head coaches are being exposed left and right. Every other day we would hear about a new program or coach under investigation. Even the “holier than thou” Coach K is being investigated! (Even if it is much ado about nothing).

But even ideas to spark beneficial changes in college athletics are being mocked. When SEC Commissioner Mike Slive suggested radical changes to improve the quality of student-athletes such as multi-year scholarships (athletes currently receive a series of one-year scholarships that can be revoked) or raising academic standards, South Carolina head football coach ripped the idea.

That’s a terrible idea, Commissioner. Do you sportswriters have a two-year contract, three or four-year contracts? … If you go bad, don’t show up to work, your butt will be out on the street. Everybody has to earn your way in life. That’s what I believe.

"Commissioner, Stephen has learned from this fifth suspension. I swear."

That’s right, Steve. Players have to earn their scholarships. But they don’t have to obey team rules if they happen to be your starting quarterback. Your boy Stephen Garcia has finally learned his lesson and changed. Fifth suspension’s a charm!

Coaches like Steve Spurrier and Jim Calhoun are all that are wrong with coaching in college athletics: it’s not about developing young men and women, it’s about exploiting them.

But there are some good guys in college athletics.

Which brings me to Notre Dame basketball coach Mike Brey.

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Coaches Facing Uphill Battles : Toughest Assignments for 2012

When ESPN and Sports Illustrated start handing out their Coach of the Year awards late in March or April, typically they are handed out to one of two types of coaches: a big name coach leading a powerhouse to an exceptional record or a coach on the rise leading a non-traditional power to new heights. The awards are great recognition for coaches who undoubtedly have done a tremendous job with their respective teams. But more often than not, they aren’t the coaches doing the best job coaching that season. The awards are earned from compiling a couple good years of recruiting together and developing players over time; not for just their successful records that year.

But if you want to really look for the best coaching jobs of the individual season, you need to start looking at the bottom of the barrel. Look at the squads who have almost no returning talent in the power conferences, where legendary coaches are on the opposing bench two to three times a week. Graduation, transfers, and early entrants to the NBA draft can leave coaches with rosters full of question marks. When expectations are at their lowest, that’s when a great coach can really make his mark and show his excellence in his craft. Finishing in with a .500 record might not mean a lot to the national audience, but the basketball junkies will recognize a job very well done.

With that said, let’s look at some coaches who will be trying to prove all those preseason prognosticators wrong.

Steve Donahue, Boston College 

Donahue will have to lead a young BC squad against the heavyweights of the ACC this year.

Here’s all you need to know about the daunting task Steve Donahue is facing this year: his top returning scorer is preferred walk-on Danny Rubin (4.1 PPG), who saw his playing time diminish in the middle of the ACC regular season. With Reggie Jackson’s early departure to the NBA and the graduation of six seniors, Donahue will realize how bare Al Skinner left the cupboard. Along with Rubin, guard Gabe Moton and junior Oregon-transfer Matt Humphrey will be the welcoming seven scholarship freshmen and a few other walk-ons. Although some of the freshmen will certainly be talented, Jeff Bzedlik learned last year how hard it is to compete in the ACC with a young, inexperienced Wake team. If Donahue can get this group to win more than five ACC games and show player development throughout the season, most Eagles fans will be thrilled.

Ed Cooley, Providence

A native of Providence, Cooley will try to resurrect the Friars and make them relevant in the Big East again. Losing first-round pick Marshon Brooks to graduation leaves quite a scoring gap for Ed Cooley’s young team and will be the reason most pundits are down on Providence. Throw in guard Duke Mondy being released from his scholarship and most will expect another bottom half finish for the Friars. But guards Gerald Coleman and Vincent Council have shown flashes of their talent and potential. But the Friars inability to consistently play team defense cost them in Big East play (8-28 Big East record previous two years) and ultimately Keno Davis his job. Cooley will be looking to build an identity that the Friar faithful can rally around and hopefully inject some life into the floundering program.

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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.”

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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)

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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.

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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.

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Trouble for Pitino? Louisville loses top 2012 commit

Pitino's loss could be Haith's golden ticket in Missouri.

Trouble could be a-brewing for Rick Pitino yet again this summer. Fortunately, at least this time the problem is basketball related.

Rodney Purvis, a five-star recruit and ESPN’s 10th ranked player in the class of 2012, decommitted from Louisville on Monday, leaving Pitino and his staff in quite a bind.

This makes the second major loss for the Pitino camp over the past week, as the Cardinals also lost top assistant and recruiting genius, Tim Fuller.

Fuller, who recently took a job on Frank Haith’s staff at Missouri, was the key to Purvis’ recruitment at Louisville and it looks like the shooting guard’s commitment was ultimately swayed by Fuller’s decision to move on.

The Skinny

Purvis has gained notoriety as a superior wing player and is best known for his rebounding and strong finishes at the rim. At 6’4″ and almost 200 pounds he presents a Dwyane Wade type build that could be a tough assignment for any defender hoping to slow him down on the perimeter. He’s really a transition player with tons to offer in terms of athleticism.

However, the biggest knock on his game has to do with his lack of a perimeter jumper. He is good with his mid-range but scouts seem to be a bit weary about having a shooting-guard on the floor, who essentially can’t put it in the rim from farther than 15-feet.

Landing Strip?

With his recruitment back open and schools surely salivating at the thought of having the beast slashing in from the wing for their squad, he is sure to be a hot commodity throughout his senior season.

As for possible destinations…

Purvis has referenced Missouri as a possible landing spot (following Fuller there) as well as a few other schools – North Carolina State, Duke, Kentucky, Florida, Baylor specifically – as places of interest as he moves forward.

Louisville is apparently still in the running for Purvis and it appears that Pitino will make a run at the kid, but don’t expect much in return as the North Carolina native seems to have his mind pretty well made up on the Cardinals.

Impact

The 6’4″ combo-guard could be a huge addition to any team across the nation but I think no coach would be more grateful of his presence than Haith at Missouri. The Tiger’s new man has some big shoes to fill, following Mike Anderson’s successful tenure, and he’ll need a top-25 recruiting class in 2012 to help build a solid framework if he hopes to make a name for himself in Columbia.

As for Louisville, losing Purvis is a big subtraction but Fuller’s departure could be the biggest loss. The recruiting guru’s absence could lead to more trouble for Louisville with the 2012 class, as Fuller had a hand in many of the possible commits for the Cardinals and without the presence of a superstar like Purvis other recruits may be less likely to join in.

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Does Calipari Want His Guys to Stay or Go?

There was an article by the AP about how John Calipari is more-or-less pushing star freshmen Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight to at least enter the draft without hiring an agent. It got me thinking: is this true altruism from Calipari, where he cares more about his players than his program? Or, is this the model that he’s created, and would it almost be better for him for these guys to leave?

It is no secret how Calipari has constructed his program for the past six or seven years, at both Memphis and Kentucky. He targets high school stars that are more than likely to leave after one year, basically telling them that their best option to showcase their skills for one year is with him. Then, he sends them on their way, and reloads with the next class. Ethics aside–this is not an article about whether or not Calipari is following NCAA rules–this is an article about how Calipari has built his programs and has had obvious success (on-the-court) doing so.

So, this made me wonder, does Calipari actually want these guys to come back? Who of his freshman stars in the past five years has ever decided to return for their sophomore year? Not Derrick Rose, not Tyreke Evans, not John Wall, not DeMarcus Cousins, not Eric Bledsoe. He’s even had very average contributors as freshmen, like Daniel Orton last year, take off early. He’s never distraught over their departures. Is it because he just wants the best for them and understands that this is their chance to get paid? I’m sure that has something to do with it. Say what you want about Calipari, but you can tell that he does care about these kids when you watch him coach. But, could there be something else driving him?

It seems like coach Cal has a system in place, and that system would, in a way, have its balance upset if his freshman stars started returning for their sophomore campaigns. I daresay his program would almost resemble a legitimate college basketball atmosphere of old. Well, like I said, almost. I have to imagine, then, that when he continually reloads his team with McDonald’s All-Americans, an aspect of his recruiting pitch has to be: “You’re going to play right away, and you’re going to be a star right away. I’m one of the only coaches who will play four or five freshman together for extended minutes. If you want to go to the league after one year, you need to play for me.” Well, what happens when that promised playing time gets cut because guys he assumed would be gone are back?

At the end of the day, this is not a bad problem to have if you are Calipari, but it still makes me wonder. Four of Kentucky’s 2011 signees are in the ESPNU 100 top 18 players in the country. Would a point guard like Marquis Teague have signed with Kentucky if he knew incumbent Brandon Knight would be coming back? Would the trio of 6’10” Anthony Davis (#1 in ESPNU 100), 6’7″ Michael Gilchrist (#3 in ESPNU 100), or 6’9″ Kyle Wiltjer (#18 in ESPNU 100) have decided to come to Lexington if they knew that Terrence Jones was going to be  back in the mix as well? It doesn’t seem natural to talk about John Calipari and credibility in the same sentence, but does he lose credibility with these guys and with future recruits if this starts happening more often? Obviously, there is going to be a lockout in the NBA, and that doesn’t happen every year, but it still begs the question: does Calipari really want his freshman stars to stay for another year? Or, is his one-and-done system just the way he likes it?

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