- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
- 0 Shares
'Nova likes Big 5 home games at home
Wednesday, Sept. 29: Villanova coach Jay Wright wants to keep playing Big 5 games but he doesn't want to move any of them to the Wachovia Center. Wright said he's committed to playing the annual games against Temple, Saint Joseph's, La Salle and Penn, but when Villanova is the home team, he wants to play the games at the on-campus Pavilion. Both La Salle and Saint Joseph's will play their "home" games against Villanova this year at the neutral Palestra, but Wright said they could choose to have them at their actual home arenas. The issue other teams have with games at Villanova is with ticket availability, as Wright said the road teams would get the same 250 seats that every other opponent receives (unlike Palestra games, which are split more evenly). Villanova's biggest home games are usually moved to the Wachovia Center -- this season, they'll play Kansas (Jan. 22), Notre Dame (Jan. 26) and Syracuse (Feb. 12) there. Villanova is playing Penn at the Pavilion this season after playing Saint Joe's on campus last season. The Temple game is at the Palestra as part of the Big 5 Classic.
Kent calls for more equitable start date
Tuesday, Sept. 28: Oregon coach Ernie Kent would like to see an Oct. 1 start date for individual workouts to make it more equitable for schools on the quarter system. Oregon started classes Monday and will have three weeks for individual workouts before practice begins Oct. 16. Some schools on semesters, like Kansas, will end up having nearly eight weeks. Kent said he'd like to see an end date, too, somewhere around the first of May, even though schools on the quarter system go until June. Kent said he does believe the extra month of pounding could hurt a team, and he said his teams tend to be fresher down the stretch. Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said a young team needs the early individual workouts while a veteran team can do without all the extra work. The Dragons started classes last week. UCLA, which has a younger team and starts this week, could use the extra time. But assistant Kerry Keating said the Bruins have benefited from playing with pros at Pauley Pavilion in late August and September. Cincinnati, which started last week, hasn't seen the late start become a factor, according to assistant Andy Kennedy.
Texas' Aldridge could have Camby-like effect
Monday, Sept. 27: Texas freshman LaMarcus Aldridge got cleared in August after withdrawing from the NBA draft due to a stress fracture in his back. Throughout the past month, Aldridge has been working out with NBA forward Chris Mihm as well as trying to strengthen his back and midsection with strength and conditioning coach Todd Wright. The word out of Austin is Aldridge has a Marcus Camby-like body, which should bode well for the Longhorns defensively. His offensive game is still a work in progress, but he won't have the pressure to produce immediately. The Longhorn freshmen could end up being the best in the country with rave reviews flowing in for point guard Daniel Gibson, wing Mike Williams and, the sleeper of the bunch, Dion Dowell, who should be P.J. Tucker's backup at small forward. Connor Atchley is also in the group and should be a backup center, possibly to Klotz and Aldridge. ... UCLA starts school this week and is waiting for center Ryan Hollins to get cleared. He had offseason knee surgery. The Bruins are abuzz over Michael Fey, who added some muscle and weight to his frame to make him an imposing big man in the Pac-10.
Fox, Tangara competing for final 'Cats spot
Friday, Sept. 24: Arizona's most pressing preseason question is whether or not 6-9 junior Isaiah Fox will be the fifth starter and who will emerge as the sixth man. It's still too early to project, but 6-9 freshman Mohamed Tangara is creating enough buzz that he could push Fox out of the starting lineup sooner than later. Fox is the better passer of the pair, but Tangara apparently plays bigger. Fox is coming off a knee injury last season. The Wildcats are a legit top 10 team and Final Four contender with potentially four NBA players in the starting lineup: senior center Channing Frye, sophomore guard Mustafa Shakur, junior wing Hassan Adams and senior guard Salim Stoudamire. The Arizona staff is pumped about Frye and Stoudamire so far, saying they are playing at "another level." Arizona needs that kind of leadership for the Wildcats to rebound off last season's disappointing first-round flameout in the NCAA Tournament against Seton Hall. The Wildcats also finished third behind Washington in the Pac-10. The sixth-man race is just as competitive with Fox/Tangara going against junior guard Chris Rodgers, and freshmen wings Jesus Verdejo and Jawan McClellan.
Lack of 5/8 rule hurting lower-profile schools
Thursday, Sept. 23: The elimination last spring of the 5/8 scholarship rule has apparently crippled the recruiting efforts of some lower-profile schools, at least for this first recruiting class after the rule was repealed. Wichita State coach Mark Turgeon said he's having a hard time getting recruits to visit this month because "the big boys are swallowing them up.'' Turgeon claims that players who fell down to his level are now taking visits to higher-profile schools as the schools try to get back up to the 13-scholarship maximum. Kansas coach Bill Self agrees with Turgeon that this practice is going on at the high-profile level this fall. In the past few seasons, schools were limited to five newcomers in a given recruiting class, no more than eight in two. A number of schools weren't able to get up to 13 and played with 10, 11 or 12 players on scholarship. "I can't get kids to visit,'' Turgeon said. "But I do think things will even back up after this year.'' Turgeon added that, "this might allow us to get a good transfer later in the year,'' once playing time becomes an issue.
Washington still pursuing top frosh
Wednesday, Sept. 22: Washington can still end up with a banner recruiting class, one that is littered with homegrown talent, despite four Seattle-area players already having committed elsewhere. The Huskies are trying hard to land big man Jon Brockman, who will make an official visit to Washington after returning from an official visit to Duke (that's a good sign for the Huskies that he didn't commit in Durham) and shooting guard Martell Webster, who is considering Arizona and North Carolina as well as Washington, still is undecided. So, the Huskies don't yet need to fret about the four who are now going to play out of state after Arizona landed one of the top players in Marcus Williams on Tuesday. Stanford already nabbed Mitch Johnson, Kansas got Micah Downs and Louisville picked up Terrence Williams. Washington already has an in-state commitment from 6-8 forward Artem Wallace. The Huskies didn't need another true guard from the state after getting three perimeter commitments from outside Washington, but they probably need to nab either Brockman or Webster to show the second-place Pac-10 finish of a year ago had a significant effect on local recruiting.
Marquette lands Israeli standout Berkowitz
Tuesday, Sept. 21: Marquette will add Israeli guard Niv Berkowitz for its Dec. 18 game against Arizona on ESPN2. The Golden Eagles landed the 18-year-old Israeli after assistant coach Jeff Strohm went to Israel last week to introduce the Golden Eagles' program to him. Berkowitz, son of legendary Israeli and former UNLV player Mickey Berkowitz, chose Marquette without seeing the school. DePaul had been the early favorite, but the Blue Demons were left without a scholarship last week when point guard Cliff Clinksdale won an appeal with NCAA to play this season after initially failing to get through the NCAA Clearinghouse. Berkowitz, who visited DePaul, Georgetown, Rutgers and New Orleans, still needs to take the ACT or SAT to be eligible. He would likely come for a visit before he arrives for good. The Golden Eagles' coaching staff is already planning on trying to get him into the lineup for the nationally televised game against the Wildcats. DePaul was recruiting Berkowitz with the thinking that Clinksdale wouldn't be eligible. Berkowitz hasn't played with pros yet and put off his military service. None of the schools expected him to have eligibility issues.
No faulting toughness of Coppin State's schedule
Monday, Sept. 20: The time has come to give Fang Mitchell his due for schedule toughness. The Coppin State coach is also the athletic director, meaning he's under absolutely no pressure to produce in the non-conference. Yet Mitchell doesn't shy away from giving his players an experience, let alone a way to better themselves before the MEAC season. So Mitchell has put together one of the strongest, if not most insane, Division I non-conference schedules. Coppin State opens up at Kentucky before going to Dayton, Texas and Oklahoma before MEAC home games against N.C. A&T and South Carolina State. Following a road league game at Morgan State, Coppin State returns to the non-conference road with games at West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Utah, Marquette and Minnesota. "I have a squad of eight newcomers, and they'll understand the game quickly with this schedule,'' Mitchell said. "It's my job to make sure they're not demoralized. They'll understand what we're trying to do by opening up at Kentucky. I'm secure about my job, so I'm not worried about my record. I just want to go play.'' Mitchell is one of the game's great characters who always welcomes a challenge.
NABC puts off five-year eligibility proposal
Friday, Sept. 17: The NABC tabled the five-year eligibility plan because it was worried that the legislation could ruin the call for more access with their current players and changes in recruiting. The five-year eligibility proposal was part of a broader package with the access and recruiting changes (see: watching players work out). NCAA president Myles Brand was concerned that the NABC wasn't unified on the subject. "There were too many things that didn't have answers,'' said Reggie Minton, the NABC associate director. "We didn't want the presidents and management council to quiz us and not have all the answers.'' The major sticking point about the five-year eligibility proposal is what happens when a team has four or five seniors who all want to stay, leaving a coach without a newcomer class the following season. And the coach might not find out that the seniors want to stay for a fifth year until the spring. "We put this whole package together for access and recruiting,'' Minton said. "The five-year plan has nothing to do with access and recruiting. That was put out there to help with graduation rates.''
CAA to decide division of 12-team league
Thursday, Sept. 16: The Colonial Athletic Association will meet Sept. 28 in Richmond to decide how to divide the 12-team league in 2005-06 once Northeastern and Georgia State join the league. CAA commissioner Thomas Yeager said the league wouldn't be divided along geographic lines since that would split up all five Virginia schools. The CAA teams will stick with 18 league games since CAA teams, like most lower-profile schools, struggle to find non-conference games. But coming up with a format for the 18 games is still to be determined. "We've stabilized and solidified ourselves with these 12 institutions going from Boston to Atlanta,'' Yeager said. "We're not claiming to be a major player in those markets, but we are in five of the nine largest and could expand our regional sports packages. We're just waiting for ESPNU to televise all our stuff.'' ... Missouri continues to rave about the return of sophomore forward Linas Kleiza. Kleiza played in only 16 games (11.1 ppg, 8.4 rpg) last season because of a shoulder injury. He was one of the top forwards in the Big 12 before his injury, and he would immediately make the Tigers a factor in the paint.
Big Ten implements new recruiting curfew
Wednesday, Sept. 15: The Big Ten Group (basically the hierarchy of the league) passed institutional guidelines this summer, putting in a 1 a.m. curfew for on-campus recruiting visits. College basketball teams are going through those visits during the next few weeks. The Big Ten expects the NCAA to come down with some sort of permanent guideline in the near future. The only time the 1 a.m. curfew could become a serious problem is over Midnight Madness weekend. If a recruit is in for a visit and the team is holding a Midnight Madness, even then they may have to seek a special pass for the night from the league. Most Midnight Madness events don't get over until close to 2 a.m. since the team can't start practicing until 12:01 a.m. ... BC coach Al Skinner got a deserved extension Tuesday. Skinner is one of the game's most credible and respected coaches, who continues to do more with less than most coaches in the profession. ... The shakeup in the BYU athletic department won't affect men's coach Steve Cleveland. He has survived numerous AD changes and continues to set the standard coaches at the school should strive to equal.
Schaen's absence hurts Princeton's depth
Tuesday, Sept. 14: Princeton's depth took a hit when 6-8 Harrison Schaen wasn't at school when it began last week. The sophomore forward is taking the year off for personal reasons. "Size isn't our weakness, but this could hurt our depth since he was our most athletic big guy,'' said new Princeton coach Joe Scott. Scott said he hopes Schaen can make it back to the Tigers in a year. Princeton, the favorite in the Ivy, still has two anchors inside in Judson Wallace and Mike Stephens. ... The matchups for the Coaches vs. Cancer Event Nov. 18-19 are set, assuming all four hosts get to New York by winning two home games Nov. 11-12. Mississippi State would play Syracuse (great Lawrence Roberts vs. Hakim Warrick matchup) while Memphis would play Cal. But don't dismiss Saint Mary's. The Gaels are a legit threat to upstage the event and beat Cal in Berkeley the previous week. Saint Mary's has to get by Belmont while Cal plays UC Riverside. ... Seven 2005 NCAA Tournament sites are sold out: Boise, Cleveland, Oklahoma City and Worcester, Mass.; and regional final sites Albuquerque, Austin and Chicago.
Marquette recruiting Israeli standout Berkowitz
Monday, Sept. 13: Marquette assistant coach Jeff Strohm was in Israel Monday, trying to recruit 6-3 guard Niv Berkowitz for this season, multiple sources confirmed a Eurobasket.com report. DePaul had the initial inside track on Berkowitz, whose father, Miki, coached DePaul assistant Josh Oppenheimer in Israel. Berkowitz, 18, would be eligible this season if he reaches a qualifying ACT or SAT score. Marquette would have to wait until the second semester for him to be eligible. Since DePaul is on the quarter system, the Blue Demons could get Berkowitz by the third game of the season in November, when the second quarter begins. The speedy Berkowitz was a hit at the Under 18 European Championships in Spain. Berkowitz visited New Orleans, Rutgers, Georgetown and DePaul but hasn't been to Marquette and would still need to visit the Milwaukee campus. Schools rarely go after a player in September for this season and when they do it's usually a foreigner. Berkowitz hasn't played professionally, and according to Eurobasket he has postponed his military service to go to college.
Iowa State makes Labor Day trip to Mexico
Friday, Sept. 10: We would be remiss if we didn't mention Iowa State's Labor Day trip to Mexico. The Cyclones played the same team twice in Monterrey, splitting the games. The beauty of the trip for the staff was taking 10 players, five with only one year of Division I experience and five newcomers. The constant for Iowa State on the trip was Curtis Stinson, who could compete for Big 12 player of the year. Stinson averaged a team-high 16.2 points a game last season and will be the first option this season, especially without Jake Sullivan and Jackson Vroman on the team. But the Cyclones staff was encouraged by the continued development of Jared Homan, Will Blalock and freshman forward Rashon Clark. Clark, along with returning senior Homan, has to be a factor for the Cyclones to be competitive in the post. ... Phil Martelli's deal at Saint Joseph's confirms what we already knew -- he's essentially got a lifetime deal with the Hawks. Martelli, 50, won't be leaving the Hawks for any other college job. His deal through 2012 ensures he'll retire from college basketball at Hawk Hill.
Williams talks to McCants about his attitude
Thursday, Sept. 9: North Carolina coach Roy Williams had a heart-to-heart talk with stud junior guard Rashad McCants about his attitude once Williams returned from the Athens Olympics. McCants averaged 20 points a game, scoring 20 or more points in his final four games before the NCAA Tournament, including 30 points against Clemson. McCants was a hit at the Nike camp and the first two days of the U.S. World Championship qualifying team tryouts. But then the coaching staff, led by Oklahoma's Kelvin Sampson, had to cut McCants after his attitude went south. "One day I'm getting calls he's the best player, and then two days later Kelvin is telling me he has to cut him,'' Williams said. He said McCants is a complex young man and he's confident that he'll be fine. "He's a nice young man, who is misunderstood. He brings a lot of it on himself, though.'' Meanwhile, Williams was looking forward to individual workouts with newcomer Marvin Williams, who could challenge for plenty of shots this season. ... It's early September and, yes, at least five to 10 major schools are still looking for another game. The problem is everyone wants to start at home.
Losing Powe for season is no surprise
Wednesday, Sept. 8: Cal didn't plan on Leon Powe coming back next season. The coaching staff knew it was a possibility but they weren't about to push him to return too soon. So it wasn't a total surprise when it was announced Tuesday that he would have ACL surgery and likely miss the season. The Bears will have to be more of a perimeter-oriented team in Powe's absence. Powe, the Pac-10 freshman of the year, averaged 15.1 points and 9.5 rebounds last season. The Bears expect to be just as tough defensively and will rely on 6-5 sophomore Marquise Kately, who the staff believes could be the top defender in the Pac-10. ... Ohio State pulled off a recruiting coup when it nabbed Bowling Green transfer Ronald Lewis. Coach Thad Matta can rest easily knowing he might have his top scorer for 2005-06 already on the roster. ... St. John's staff, led by former Kansas assistant and Red Storm head coach Norm Roberts, spent two days watching the Jayhawks practice before they went to Canada over Labor Day weekend. The Red Storm is up to 10 scholarship players for the season, plus four walk-ons, plenty to go through practice.
Rhode Island needs Hazelton breakthrough
Tuesday, Sept. 7: Rhode Island returned undefeated from an August trip to the Dominican Republic with the hope that they've found a home for senior Scott Hazelton (6.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg). Hazelton, who started his career at UConn, was used at small forward for the Rams against the modest competition they faced on their trip. Rhode Island needs Hazelton to have a breakthrough year. He has been all hype and "hasn't had a career yet," URI coach Jim Baron said. Hazelton has to make up for the departure of Dustin Hellenga if the Rams are to stay competitive this season… Virginia coach Pete Gillen avoided a possible controversial situation when he and Providence coach Tim Welsh found a date to play a return game at Providence. The Cavaliers were having a hard time fitting in the Friars, where Gillen used to coach, but appear to be locking in on Feb. 22. Meanwhile, Gillen is raving about 6-7 freshman Adrian Joseph -- a quick athlete who will get out and dunk on the break…Virginia athletic director Craig Littlepage will be the NCAA Tournament selection committee chair in 2006 after Iowa AD Bob Bowlsby serves out the rest of his two-year term.
San Juan Shootout looking for sixth team
Tuesday, Aug. 31: Organizers of the San Juan Shootout are hoping to get a sixth team for the Dec. 20-22 event to have a true tournament format. If it doesn't happen, then host Puerto Rico Mayaguez won't participate. The present five-team field includes Auburn, Middle Tennessee State, Toledo and Delaware. If Mayaguez doesn't participate then the four teams will still play three games, but it will be a scripted round-robin format with each team playing the other three. The Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands over Thanksgiving Weekend is also trying to get two more teams. The present six-team field includes Arkansas, Saint Louis, Winthrop, Troy University, Austin Peay and Eastern Michigan. These tournaments are also hoping that the NCAA's appeal to keep the 2-in-4 rule is thrown out by a sixth circuit court in Ohio. The case is on hold as the judges handling it still haven't gotten to a ruling. ... Notre Dame PG Chris Thomas isn't 100 percent cleared yet after battling a knee injury. But that should come soon. Assistant Sean Kearney said Thomas changed his body over the summer. Kearney said Thomas' shoulders pop, showing his added strength.
Southern Conference offers tournament compromise
Friday, Aug. 27: The Southern Conference has the best option to the 2-in-4 mess that has embroiled college basketball. Currently, the NCAA says teams are allowed two exempt tournaments in four seasons. Organizers of the tournaments are awaiting an NCAA appeal to keep the ruling after the organizers won an initial court ruling to remove the rule. The NCAA also has a proposal going through the legislative process that would call for a maximum of 29 games, counting every game as one (meaning going to Maui would count as three games, not one). But the Southern Conference offered up a compromise: allowing teams to compete in a certified event every season, but if a team competes in more than two in a four-year cycle, then each game in the event would count against the school's maximum contest limitation. The effective date proposed was Aug. 1, 2005. If a school wanted to play in Maui, Preseason NIT and the Coaches vs. Cancer, then in the third year the four games in the CVC would count as single games, not just one like Maui and the NIT.
MVC's move to CSTV helps other conferences
Thursday, Aug. 26: The Mountain West Conference will lose television relevance once it moves to CSTV and off ESPN after the 2005-06 season. CSTV has two years to get on cable systems in the Mountain time zone. The WAC went to FSN a few years ago for supposedly more exposure and money, but fans in the area complained games were hard to find, so the WAC went back to ESPN. CSTV won't do that to the MWC, but fans in places like Albuquerque and Laramie might have similar complaints. The MWC's departure from ESPN will open up more opportunities for the WAC and WCC. The WCC has an ABC game this season (San Francisco-Gonzaga). ESPN will likely get criticized for not having a major deal west of the Big 12 (no Pac-10 or MWC), but if the WAC, WCC and even the Big Sky have quality teams, then they'll benefit from the MWC's absence. …Cincinnati will hire Northeastern assistant Frank Martin, not head coach Ron Everhart, according to the Bearcat staff. Apparently, Cincinnati coach Bob Huggins originally called about Martin and then talked to Everhart about the opening. Everhart withdrew, but Martin remained interested.
Kentucky's Smith calls off Cancun trip
Wednesday, Aug. 25: Citing the length of the season, Kentucky coach Tubby Smith on Wednesday called off a planned team trip to Cancun, Mexico, from Sept. 30-Oct. 3. Assistant coach David Hobbs said Smith returned from the Jordan Camp last week and was convinced that taking the team to Mexico before practice and starting practice in September would make the season too long. "We hope to play in the middle of March or later and Tubby wasn't comfortable with having the season go that long,'' Hobbs said. "He just didn't think it was the thing to do.'' Teams are allowed 10 days of practice before a foreign tour. This is the last year that teams can take trips in October. A new rule, which starts Nov. 1, prevents teams from taking trips 30 days prior to the start of practice. The Wildcats have key newcomers like Western Kentucky transfer Patrick Sparks, freshmen guards Rajon Rondo and Joe Crawford and center Randolph Morris. … Maine will likely make a determination on whether assistant Ted Woodward would replace John Giannini, who went to La Salle, by the end of the week. If it's not Woodward, then the search will open up next week.
Mississippi St. replacing Duke in CVC
Tuesday, Aug. 24: Mississippi State will replace Duke as the fourth team in the Coaches vs. Cancer event, hosting the first two rounds of the tournament in Birmingham, Ala., because the NCAA doesn't allow pre-determined tournaments to be held in the state of Mississippi (see: Confederate Flag flap). The plan for the CVC is for the four hosts -- MSU, Cal, Syracuse and Memphis -- to get to New York after winning two games. The tournament would be Nov. 18-19 at Madison Square Garden. But this wasn't easy. The Bulldogs had to get out of the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, to play in the CVC. To do that, MSU had to ensure a replacement. The organizers of CVC got Northwestern. The Wildcats join Utah State, Central Florida, Georgia Southern, New Mexico State, Portland, Western Michigan and UAF Nov. 18-21. "(MSU coach) Rick Stansbury was a class guy because he could have just left us in a lurch and sent us a buyout check (in the tens of thousands),'' UAF associate AD Kip Harmon said. "But he said he wouldn't leave unless we had another team. That's rare for a D-I coach.''
Calipari excited about C-USA schedule in 2005-06
Monday, Aug. 23: Memphis coach John Calipari was thrilled with last week's Conference USA decision to play 14 conference games in the 2005-06 season when the league is re-formed. The reason? That's at least 14 non-conference games to schedule into the NCAA Tournament. Calipari sees Memphis turning into the UMass program he had in the early '90s. The Tigers should dominate, perhaps with UAB, in Conference USA once Cincinnati, Louisville, DePaul, Marquette, South Florida, Charlotte, Saint Louis and TCU depart and are replaced by SMU, Tulsa, Rice, UTEP, Marshall and Central Florida. If the 12-team league had decided to schedule 16- or 18-league games, then the RPI would likely have fallen. If teams schedule correctly, then they can offset any poor conference RPI with a stellar non-conference schedule. Memphis decided to play in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic this November. But the consequence is that if the 2-in-4 exempt rule remains, then Calipari said he'll count the three games in the 2006 Maui Invitational against his maximum 28 regular-season games. The Tigers play in the Preseason NIT in 2005, meaning they would have used their two exemptions in '04 and '05.
Memphis grabs opening in Coaches vs. Cancer Classic
Friday, Aug. 20: Memphis coach John Calipari is making sure he plays one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country for a team that should be a regular in the top 25. Calipari decided Friday to take Kentucky's spot in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic after the Wildcats pulled out because the 2-in-4 NCAA appeal still hasn't been heard. Kentucky doesn't have an exemption remaining and didn't want to wait to see if the rule limiting teams to two exempt tournaments in four seasons would get lifted. Duke, which doesn't have an exemption either, is still waiting out the appeal process from the sixth circuit court in Cincinnati. But Calipari jumped at the chance to play Cal and possibly Syracuse, the two locks for the field, in New York. The Tigers will start the tournament with likely two guaranteed wins Nov. 13-14 before going to New York the 18th and 19th. The Tigers also play Maryland in Springfield, Mass., at Purdue, Pittsburgh in the Jimmy V (in NYC), Ole Miss, Providence, East Tennessee State and at Texas in addition to Arkansas State, Austin Peay and Louisiana Tech.
Lewis fighting for release from Bowling Green
Thursday, Aug. 19: Bowling Green rising junior Ron Lewis is in a heated debate with coach Dan Dakich about whether he should be released to transfer to another school. Lewis, who averaged 17 points and 4.7 rebounds last season, let Dakich know two weeks ago that he wanted out. Dakich wasn't thrilled; he said he forwarded information to the NCAA of tampering from another school. BGSU held a hearing Wednesday for both sides to give their reasons why Lewis should or shouldn't be granted a release. If he weren't released, then the 6-4 Lewis would have to pay for the 2004-05 season. One school that Lewis has been rumored to be interested in is Norfolk State, which certainly wouldn't make sense if he wants to leave for a higher level. BGSU (14-17, 8-10 in the MAC) was expected to contend with Lewis. But without him, Dakich is still confident. "I'm jacked about this season,'' Dakich said. "I'm not jacked about losing Ron, but I love what the rest of my players did this summer to get ready for the season.''
Edelin likely out until second semester
Wednesday, Aug. 18: The earliest Syracuse junior PG Billy Edelin will likely be eligible is the second semester. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim isn't holding out too much hope he would be ready for fall. Edelin has to continue to show academic progress and needs another semester to get his hours up to the necessary level so he could become eligible. Edelin withdrew in the second semester last season for personal reasons after starting at the point for the 2003 national champion Orange. Boeheim won't mind if Edelin isn't eligible until the second semester since incoming freshman Josh Wright is receiving rave reviews. Wright apparently played well at the Empire State Games, making it a distinct possibility he'll start at the point and move Gerry McNamara back to his natural shooting guard. … Indiana suffered another setback with its newcomer class when 7-foot-1 Robert Rothbart announced he'll play overseas. The Hoosiers already lost Josh Smith to the NBA. Rothbart's departure leaves the Hoosiers with four post players - D.J. White, Pat Ewing Jr., Sean Kline and Mike Roberts - none taller than 6-9. Rothbart, a native of Yugoslavia, was considered a project even though he declared for the draft and withdrew.
Maryland leaving for Italian educational tour
Tuesday, Aug. 17: Maryland leaves for a 12-day Italian tour Tuesday, handling the foreign tour the right way. The Terps aren't trying to find a backdoor in the NCAA policy by getting 10 days of practice during school to start practicing before everyone else and do little else but play games. The Terps are going during the summer for a truly overall educational experience. Maryland will conduct legit sightseeing in Italy. Sure, the Terps are playing five games in Italy against tough competition from teams from Kiev, Ukraine, to Varese, Italy. Maryland won't be able to take its newcomers per NCAA rules (the only part of the summer tour that should change especially since incoming freshmen are allowed to go to summer school). But the Terps do return 12 players off a 20-12 team that shocked the ACC by winning the conference tournament. The Terps should be an ACC title contender along with Wake Forest, North Carolina, Georgia Tech, Duke and N.C. State. Maryland coach Gary Williams will have much-needed bonding time with his team both on and off the court during this trip. This voyage will make this team closer as well as even more well rounded when school starts.
Baylor stuck on seven scholarships
Wednesday, Aug. 11: Baylor coach Scott Drew decided against adding two more scholarships to fill the allowed maximum of nine (under school-ordered sanctions related to the 2003 Patrick Dennehy saga) after the Bears couldn't find quality players in the spring. That means the Bears will have just seven scholarship players for the 2004-05 season, including one returnee – senior forward Tommy Swanson (6.4 ppg, 4.1 rpg in 22.1 mpg, sixth on the team in scoring). The Bears, who finished 3-13 in the Big 12 and 8-21 overall, could end up having a worse record in 2004-05. Three players left the program in the spring – Harvey Thomas (pro); Corey Herring (transferring TBD) and Carl Marshall (Indian Hills, Iowa JC). Drew signed five in the class of 2005 in addition to LSU transfer Tim Bush and Swanson to get to seven. Drew could have added two more once the five-and-eight scholarship limitation rule was rescinded but "there weren't enough players out there, so we stopped at seven.'' Under the self-imposed sanctions, Baylor can be at 12 scholarships in 2005-06. Drew has two commitments for 2005: 6-foot Henry Dugat (Dayton, Texas) and 6-1 Curtis Jerrells (Del Valle, Texas).
Charlotte moves forward after Iti saga
Tuesday, Aug. 10: Charlotte coach Bobby Lutz can finally go ahead and plan for the 2004-05 season after the Martin Iti rumors were put to rest Monday night. Iti never told Lutz he was leaving for a junior college, but the rumors were rampant that he was going to bolt the 49ers for a JC en route to another chance at the NBA. Iti, listed at 7-feet at Charlotte but 6-8 at the Chicago pre-draft camp, failed in his attempt last June to convince NBA personnel that he should be in the draft. Iti withdrew once it was obvious that he wasn't going to be in the first round and might have slipped out of the second round. The Australian was a Conference USA all-freshman team selection, averaging six points, 4.7 rebounds and leading the team with 35 blocks. But the better news for Lutz is he'll team with top 50 preseason Wooden Award candidate Curtis Withers inside. "He'll allow our guys to play the positions that are natural to them,'' Lutz said of Iti. "He makes us better and now we've got more depth. We would have been limited with him out of the equation.''
Everhart considering Cincinnati assistant job
Monday, Aug. 9: Northeastern coach Ron Everhart is in discussions about joining Bob Huggins' staff at Cincinnati as an assistant to replace Dan Peters. Peters, who was the associate head coach, left Cincinnati for a similar position at Ohio State. Huggins is likely to replace Peters with a close friend, and grabbing a head coach who is a close friend like Everhart would certainly fit. Cincinnati great Oscar Robertson, who is serving as the interim coach during Huggins' summer-long suspension, isn't going to stay on the staff. Huggins returns from the suspension on Aug. 27. Everhart has a tough decision if the job is offered. He returns one of the top point guards in the country in Jose Juan Barea (20.7 ppg, 5.8 apg in '04), who is fresh off leading Puerto Rico to the silver medal in the World Championship for Young Men qualifying tournament in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Huskies should factor in the America East race with favorite Vermont. If Everhart decides to leave, then Big East assistants like BC's Bill Coen, Providence's Steve DeMeo and UConn's Tom Moore are likely to pursue the job.
Jaspers on the right track
Friday, Aug. 6: Lower-profile schools such as Manhattan all want to be like Gonzaga and stay relevant in the NCAA. Sustained NCAA Tournament success and consistent coaching are a must. Manhattan got to the NCAAs two consecutive seasons and beat Florida last season before losing to Wake Forest by four in the second round. Manhattan lost in the 2003 first round to eventual champ Syracuse. The next step in Manhattan's maturation was to keep head coach Bobby Gonzalez, especially after the top player, Luis Flores' eligibility expired. Gonzalez was a finalist for the Miami job and initially wanted St. John's but never interviewed. Now he's staying with Manhattan and the Jaspers are acting like a program that wants to stay good. They signed him to a new five-year contract Thursday, giving him six more seasons (he had one left on the existing deal). There is a buyout, which decreases by $25,000 for each season he stays. The Jaspers just picked up a transfer in DePaul freshman Tyler Smith and are looking as though they will be a MAAC contender for years to come as long as Gonzalez stays.
Keeping Bulldogs out of tourneys was right move
Thursday, Aug. 5: Georgia's administration was criticized when it took the Bulldogs out of the 2003 SEC and NCAA tournaments. But it turned out Georgia president Michael Adams made the right call by penalizing the 2003 team, rather than the 2005 one that the NCAA would have hit. The NCAA came down with its penalties on the Tony Cole-Jim Harrick Jr. fiasco at Georgia on Thursday, and one of the penalties was a one-year postseason ban, which was already served. CAA commissioner Thomas Yeager, who chairs the infractions committee, said the postseason ban didn't mitigate the penalty, but it was more appropriate to penalize the 2003 team than the upcoming one under second-year coach Dennis Felton. Felton should be able to handle the one scholarship reduction for three years (12 available in 2006, '07, and '08). Felton brought credibility and discipline to the program in the past year. Don't expect Harrick Jr. to get another job in D-1 after he was handed a 7-year show-cause penalty (meaning a school has to go in front of an infractions committee to see if he should be under any penalties if they hire him). Most schools will just stay away.
Mississippi State taking its show on the road
Wednesday, Aug. 4: Mississippi State planned on starting the season with two guaranteed home games before moving on to the Guardians Classic in Kansas City. But, according to an NCAA spokesperson, the NCAA maintains a position of not allowing certified events in the state of Mississippi because the Confederate flag is a part of the state flag. That's why MSU signed to play in the Top of the World Classic in Fairbanks, Alaska, Nov. 18-21 (next best team is Utah State). The Coaches vs. Cancer Classic was still trying to get the Bulldogs to participate in its event, but the Bulldogs would have had to go on the road for two games to get to New York instead of hosting a four-team tournament before going to the Garden. Mississippi State, which returns the SEC player of the year in Lawrence Roberts, is playing eight games away from Starkville - Arizona in the Wooden Classic (Calif.), at Xavier, at New Orleans, Virginia Tech in N.O., the three in Alaska and UIC in Jackson, Miss. MSU desperately needs two more non-conference home games. But MSU's power rating will improve with the schedule, and the Bulldogs should be praised for leaving home.
Lee must wait until Hawaii fills his void
Tuesday, Aug. 3: Hawaii plans on making rising senior Logan Lee sweat a bit as it tries to find a replacement point guard. Lee abruptly left the Rainbow Warriors squad last week, telling the coaching staff he didn't want to return to the team after returning home to Texas. The departure obviously put the Warriors in a bind. Losing a point guard, albeit one that lost his starting job late in the season to then senior Jason Carter, wasn't exactly the most loyal thing to do on Lee's part. So, as a response, Hawaii will hold up his release until it finds a replacement. Assistant Jackson Wheeler, plugged into junior colleges as well as any assistant in the country, has supposedly locked up one, possibly two point guards in the last week to ease Lee's departure. Hawaii coach Riley Wallace felt this squad could challenge UTEP, Rice and Nevada for the WAC title. Getting former Oklahoma forward Matt Gipson out of North Idaho College and shooting guard Matt Gibson from Three Rivers (Mo.) College were apparently the missing pieces needed to keep the Warriors in WAC contending status in '05.
La Salle expects word from Dunphy
Monday, Aug. 2: La Salle should know within a day or two whether Penn's Fran Dunphy is interested in pursuing the vacant head coaching job. Dunphy, a La Salle alumnus, is the top candidate for the job but probably needs to know whether he ultimately could become the athletic director. If Dunphy doesn't move, then Maine's John Giannini has a legit shot to land the job. Giannini has spoken with the La Salle administration and is awaiting word on Dunphy's candidacy. La Salle is looking to replace Billy Hahn, forced to resign last week after two separate sexual assaults occurred in the past two years, involving three different men's basketball players. Hahn met with one of the alleged victims in July 2003 (a former women's player) but admittedly failed to report the meeting to his superior, though he said the victim didn't want him to discuss it any further. ... Oklahoma has signed on to play Duke in Madison Square Garden. ... Xavier will take a trip to the Bahamas in October. The Musketeers can take the trip before practice begins because the rule forbidding such a trip 30 days before practice starts doesn't take effect until Nov. 1.
Legislation could hurt exempt tournaments
Friday, July 30: Buried deep in a subcommittee's minutes from an NCAA meeting in June was one sentence that could have major repercussions: increasing the maximum number of contests from 28 to 29 while also allowing for an exemption for conference tournaments for a total of 30 men's basketball games. Presently, a team that plays in an exempt tournament usually plays more than 30. If this were passed, then a team could still play in Maui, but each of the three games would count toward the 29 instead of just one. The recommendation wouldn't take into effect until Aug. 1, 2006. The problem is that this runs counter to a pending court case. Organizers of exempted tournaments are awaiting word on an NCAA appeal to keep the 2-in-4 rule. The NCAA wants to keep the rule that limits teams to two exempt tourneys in a four-year period. The NCAA can't move forward on this proposal until the case is resolved. An NCAA spokesperson said the earliest this 29-game legislation, which has been brought up before but never passed, could be voted on is at the NCAA convention in January.
BC resolution needed to avoid 17-team Big East
Thursday, July 29: No one expects the Big East to be a 17-team basketball conference in 2005-06 (when CUSA members Cincinnati, Louisville, Marquette, DePaul and USF join), but the possibility exists unless the Big East-Boston College issue gets resolved sometime soon. During the Big East football media day Wednesday, commissioner Mike Tranghese said he didn't know if BC was moving to the ACC in '05 or '06. The reason is a court order BC filed in Boston, trying to avoid paying a $5 million exit fee that also has a 27-month advance notice tag. The Eagles announced they were leaving for the ACC on Oct. 12, 2003. BC wants to pay the $1 million that former members Miami and Virginia Tech paid to get out for the ACC. The price tag and departure notice (it was one year) went up after those two schools left on June 30, but before BC departed in October. BC and the Big East can't officially say the Eagles are out until the case is resolved. If the Big East wins, then expect them to ask for the $5 million but waive the 27-month notice.
One man's ballot for Wooden top 50
Wednesday, July 28: Here's my top 50 preseason ballot for the Wooden Award: Taylor Coppenrath, (Vermont), Shelden Williams (Duke), Jarrett Jack (Georgia Tech), John Gilchrist (Maryland), Sean May, Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants (UNC) Julius Hodge (N.C. State), Chris Paul, Eric Williams (Wake Forest), Steven Smith (LaSalle), Craig Smith (BC), Charlie Villanueva, Josh Boone (UConn), Chris Thomas (ND), Carl Krauser, Chris Taft (Pitt), Ryan Gomes (Providence), Hakim Warrick, Gerry McNamara (Syracuse), Dee Brown, Deron Williams (Illinois), Bracey Wright (Indiana), Paul Davis (Michigan State), Curtis Stinson (Iowa State), Wayne Simien, Keith Langford (KU), Joey Graham, John Lucas III (OSU), P.J. Tucker (Texas), Curtis Withers (Charlotte), Jason Maxiell (Cincinnati), Francisco Garcia (Louisville), Travis Diener (Marquette), Danny Granger (UNM), Hassan Adams, Mustafa Shakur, Channing Frye (Arizona), Ike Diogu (ASU), Chris Hernandez (Stanford), Nate Robinson (Washington), Kennedy Winston (Alabama), Ronnie Brewer (Arkansas), Anthony Roberson (Florida), Chuck Hayes (Kentucky), Brandon Bass (LSU), Lawrence Roberts (MSU), Tim Smith (ETSU), Ronny Turiaf, Adam Morrison (Gonzaga).
La Salle considering its next coaching move
Tuesday, July 27: La Salle may find it harder to replace Billy Hahn after two natural candidates -- Niagara's Joe Mihalich and Lafayette's Fran O'Hanlon -- apparently let the school know they're not interested. The No. 1 choice is Penn's Fran Dunphy, a La Salle grad. But Dunphy would likely only go to the Big Five rival if he could be both the coach and athletic director, and it doesn't appear that AD Tom Brennan is on his way out. Dunphy has always thought about athletic administration as a future career destination. That's why it would make no sense for him to leave Penn just to be the coach at his alma mater in the same city. Meanwhile, Maine's John Giannini, who was once a candidate for the job three years ago when Dunphy turned it down before the school hired Hahn, would likely be interested this time around. Giannini coached at nearby D-3 Rowan University in the early to mid-'90s, so he does have some Philadelphia ties, considering he recruited the area. A potential slam-dunk candidate would be East Carolina's Bill Herrion, who coached at Drexel before going to Conference USA.
Williams hoping for more motivated McCants
Monday, July 26: North Carolina coach Roy Williams is hoping that Rashad McCants will return to Carolina in the fall hungrier after getting cut by the USA Basketball World Championship Qualifying team last week. McCants was the top shooting guard trying out for the team and considered by many scouting the trials to be the most talented. But his attitude went south during the week, and that led to the committee, including the coaching staff of Kelvin Sampson (Oklahoma), Tom Crean (Marquette) and Dan Monson (Minnesota), to make the cut. McCants and Williams had issues early last season with McCants' moodiness. But he corrected that and was a driven player in the ACC. Williams is banking on this latest issue to get McCants focused even more in 2004-05. Meanwhile, USA Basketball created a rare cooperation amid ACC rivals. Williams and Clemson coach Oliver Purnell took a chartered UNC plane from Las Vegas to Jacksonville, Fla., Sunday in time for the start of Monday's U.S. Olympic training session. The two ACC coaches are assisting Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown. Like Sampson, Crean and Monson, Williams and Purnell won't be recruiting the rest of July.
Clock is ticking for Coaches vs. Cancer
Thursday, July 22: Organizers of the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and representatives of Duke and Kentucky have set an Aug. 1 deadline to determine whether the schools will play in the event. At issue is a legal decision as to whether the 2-in-4 rule will remain in effect. The NCAA's appeal of an earlier decision in favor of the organizers is still pending. If the appeal isn't heard by Aug. 1, then Duke, Kentucky and the CVC will move forward. Duke and Kentucky don't have another exemption (two tournaments every four seasons). The CVC has a backup plan, but isn't releasing it yet. Since Syracuse doesn't know if it will play Duke or Kentucky in November, coach Jim Boeheim decided to lock into at least one big-time game. That's why he said he agreed to play Oklahoma State in the Jimmy V Classic in December in New York. The neutral site game isn't exempt but guarantees the Orange a likely top 10 matchup. The other game on the night pits Memphis against Pittsburgh. "I didn't want the NCAA selection committee saying we never played anybody," Boeheim said. "I couldn't get anybody (notable) to come to Syracuse."
Tar Heels' McCants cut from USA Basketball team
Wednesday, July 21: North Carolina guard Rashad McCants has added motivation to prove his cynics wrong after he was surprisingly cut from the USA Basketball World Championship for Young Men's Qualifying team earlier in the day. McCants' attitude reportedly went south since playing well over the weekend. McCants was considered a lock to make the 12-player team that will compete in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next week for one of three spots in the championship event in Argentina in 2005. The other cuts Wednesday were Villanova forward Curtis Sumpter and Oregon point guard Aaron Brooks. The last cut will come down to Eric Williams of Wake Forest and Louisville's David Padgett. If Williams (stomach ailment) is healthy, then he'll make the squad. The 11 locks so far are: PGs -- Chris Paul (Wake Forest), Mustafa Shakur (Arizona); SG - Bracey Wright (Indiana), Justin Gray (Wake Forest), Shannon Brown (Michigan State); SF -- Hassan Adams (Arizona), Adam Morrison (Gonzaga); PF -- P.J. Tucker (Texas), Curtis Withers (Charlotte), Charlie Villanueva (Connecticut); Sean May (North Carolina). USA basketball officials were quick to point out the trials is for choosing a team, not the 12 most talented players.
Peters' exit puts Bearcats in a bind
Tuesday, July 20: Dan Peters' decision to leave Cincinnati as associate head coach for the same position at Ohio State was a stunning move. Peters is one of Bob Huggins' closest friends and has acted as the interim coach during Huggins' suspension from his DUI in June. Peters also was the interim coach after Huggins suffered a heart attack nearly two years ago. The decision to leave for the Buckeyes and Thad Matta is perplexing because Peters is a necessary bridge between Huggins and the administration. His departure while Huggins is suspended (he's set to return Aug. 27) leaves another hole on the Bearcats' staff. Assistant Andy Kennedy will remain on the road; Oscar Robertson was named interim coach. The only other assistant, Keith LeGree, also will be on the road recruiting. Peters was on the road earlier this month for Cincinnati, but his most important role was ensuring the players were academically eligible. Keeping track of the Bearcats over the summer is another responsibility that Kennedy and LeGree will take on until Huggins returns.
Boeheim points to five-year flaws
Monday, July 19: The five-year eligibility plan has a major fault that could cause it to lose support among some key coaches. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, one of the most powerful members of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, pointed out this weekend a major issue with the proposal for five years of eligibility. The scenario he offered up could lead to a tricky situation for a coach. Boeheim questioned what would happen if a coach had eight underclassmen and five seniors. If all five seniors wanted to return, then that coach couldn't sign anyone because of the 13 scholarship maximum in D-1. Under this scenario, the coach might be forced to run someone off if he needed to make a change at a particular position or wanted to land a certain recruit. The other problem could arise if any number of the five wait to tell the coach they'll return for their fifth season. If they don't tell the coach in November, then it makes it impossible to sign someone early and just as hard to plan the spring signing period. Boeheim underscored a point made by other coaches: Proposed legislation isn't always thought out.
Good start for Haith at Miami
Friday, July 16: New Miami coach Frank Haith made the most of his first week of recruiting by landing a commitment from Jimmy Graham, according to The Insiders.com. Haith was able to get the 6-foot-7 Graham (Community Christian HS, Wilson, N.C.) even though the Miami staff had to sit out the first two days of the evaluation period (July 8-9) because of a violation (illegal contact) that occurred under the previous staff in July, 2003. That meant that Haith went to Indianapolis for the NABC meeting July 7 and sat in his hotel room for two days, setting up the rest of his month. He then headed out to the Nike Camp in Indianapolis on July 10 before going to the ABCD Reebok Camp on July 11. Haith watched Graham play at the ABCD camp in Teaneck, N.J., then watched him in a team practice on July 12 in North Carolina. Getting Graham proves to the Miami administration that Haith can tap his native North Carolina market, which is huge for the ACC-bound 'Canes.
Huggins' return will help recruiting efforts
Thursday, July 15: Cincinnati's recruiting will improve dramatically once Bob Huggins is back as head coach on Aug. 27. Huggins will be able to call recruits to let them know he'll be the coach when the Bearcats enter the Big East in 2005-06. The Bearcats are expected to announce sometime Thursday or Friday that Huggins will return as head coach, pending he meets criteria set forth by athletic director Bob Goin and UC president Nancy Zimpher, according to multiple sources. Huggins and Goin met Wednesday night to discuss the process of his return. Cincinnati's coaching staff has been in limbo since June 12 when Huggins was suspended indefinitely with pay after getting a DUI June 8. Huggins hadn't been told of his conditions to return until this week. He wasn't expected to fight any of them in the hope that he could be back on the bench for the start of next season. He will miss the rest of this month's evaluation period, which shouldn't hurt the Bearcats' chances. Assistants Dan Peters, Andy Kennedy and Keith LeGree have been on the road, selecting prospects for Huggins to call when he returns.
Coaches think five-year plan will pass
Wednesday, July 14: College coaches continue are confident the five-year eligibility legislation will pass in April of 2005 for the '05-06 season. The coaches association is hoping the NCAA management council takes the entire proposal, almost like a congressional bill, instead of picking apart some of the points. That means the coaches would also get the much-needed two hours a week to work with their players in the summer, call recruits earlier in the process, watch their own players play pickup ball in the offseason, allow for tryouts on a visit and invite one family member of a player to one event during the year (a game, a banquet, etc.). The Ivy League probably won't go for the five-year plan with the majority of their students getting out in four years. Kelvin Sampson of Oklahoma said redshirt, medical and the transfer season in residence would all be included as part of the five years. Players wouldn't get a sixth year. If you choose to sit out a year then you only have four to play. The coaches should get the summer workout issue passed. Currently NBA personnel can work college players out but college coaches are forbidden.
Some good news for Missouri: Kleiza's progress
Tuesday, July 13: Missouri rising sophomore forward Linas Kleiza is healthy after nursing a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the second half of last season. Kleiza was tearing up the middle for the Tigers, averaging 11.1 points, 8.4 rebounds in 16 games. Missouri coach Quin Snyder is ecstatic with Kleiza's progress in the offseason. Kleiza, who is trying to make the Lithuanian Olympic team, worked extensively on his agility to help his lateral quickness. Snyder said he's also added more of a face-up game to turn himself into a small forward. Kleiza was a bit of a bruiser as a freshman, but added quickness could help him become a better defender and not need to hack because he's late getting to the play. He committed 51 fouls, fifth most on the team and he played only half the season. "No one saw him getting better because it was while he was recovering," Snyder said. "But he has really improved." That's good news for the Tigers as they try and stay in contention in the Big 12. Missouri will be young next season and needs Kleiza to be a force inside.
Injuries deplete USA roster choices
Monday, July 12: Injuries will keep Illinois' Dee Brown, Michigan State's Maurice Ager and Duke's J.J. Redick out of the USA trials for the World Championships for Young Men. USA head coach Kelvin Sampson of Oklahoma hopes to have the roster whittled down by Sunday morning after four practices in two days, beginning Friday and Saturday at the New Jersey Nets practice facility. ... Auburn is set to lose another player from the Cliff Ellis regime. Brandon Robinson looks like he's heading to Murray State. The Tigers already lost Lewis Monroe and Marco Killingsworth to Indiana. All three players will have to sit one season and to play their final season of eligibility. ... Cal is still waiting word on when sophomore forward Leon Powe will have his second surgery on his knee. Powe could be done for the season or at best just play in the Pac-10, beginning in January. ... Illinois will bust out all orange uniforms in celebration of 100 years of basketball when the Illini play host to Wake Forest in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in December. The Illinois-Wake game will be the most anticipated matchup in the event with guards Dee Brown and Deron Williams going against Wake's Chris Paul and Justin Gray.
Xavier's Brotherly Love On Hold
Saturday, July 10: Xavier coach Sean Miller, who seemed to be comfortable in his new role as head coach Friday at the Nike Camp in Indianapolis, has his first issue. Xavier has a nepotism rule, and as a result, Miller's plan of hiring his brother, Western Kentucky assistant Archie Miller, is on hold while he works through campus procedures. Miller hasn't left his post at WKU yet. … Gonzaga's Adam Morrison and Memphis' Rodney Carney were added to next weekend's World Championships for Young Men USA trials in New Jersey. The roster will be trimmed to 12 by Monday for the competition in Nova Scotia at the end of the month. ... Gonzaga will play Georgia Tech and UNLV will play Oklahoma State in Las Vegas on Dec. 18. ... Florida is taking a trip to Nassau, Bahamas, Labor Day weekend so it can get 10 practices and a few games to start the season. Kansas is taking a similar trip the same weekend to Vancouver. The NCAA passed a rule that prevented teams from taking trips 30 days from the start of practice on Oct. 16, but that allows trips Labor Day weekend if school is in session.
Wednesday, July 7: Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings is expecting to reach an agreement on a new contract in the coming days now that Ohio State hired Xavier's Thad Matta instead of him. Vanderbilt wanted to offer him a 10-to-12-year deal but Stallings is looking at a contract that could be more rollover in nature that wouldn't be as long. The Commodores are coming off a Sweet 16 and are expected to be a contender for a top-three spot in the SEC East again this season. ... Meanwhile, Rice coach Willis Wilson, who also interviewed twice for Ohio State, will be welcomed back with open arms in Houston. Wilson has had one of the most successful two-year runs at his alma mater since the World War II era. ... Indiana nabbed its second Auburn transfer in Lewis Monroe after already getting Marco Killingsworth. But both players are seniors, meaning they'll have one season of eligibility left after sitting out the 2004-05 season. Indiana needs to lock up a few big-time high school seniors in the class of '05 to balance the roster.
MTSU gets a boost
Tuesday, July 6: Middle Tennessee State picked up a major addition when former West Virginia leading scorer Drew Schifino transferred to the school. Schifino, who was booted off the team last season, will have to sit out the year before becoming eligible in 2005-06. MTSU will get Georgia transfer Steve Thomas for this season. Head coach Kermit Davis is building for a two-year NCAA run in '05 and '06. ... After a year out of the game, former Georgia assistant coach James Holland is now an assistant at UTEP. ... Mississippi State looks like it will play Arizona in the Wooden Classic in Anaheim as the headline game in December. The other matchup is UCLA vs. Boston College. ... It will be interesting to see if embattled Wright State coach Paul Biancardi is visible on the road this week while Ohio State and the NCAA investigate his role in possible violations with Boban Savovic. ... Missouri may have a hard time selling to the NCAA that all of the violations were unintentional, especially allowing a recruit to spend the night at head coach Quin Snyder's house and giving him multiple meals. The NCAA will review the case in mid-August in Seattle.
Coaches may ask NBA for more time
Monday, July 5: College basketball coaches are going to review a proposal Wednesday in Indianapolis that asks the NBA to shorten the length of time between when underclassmen can declare and then withdraw from the NBA draft. The current time frame is close to five weeks. The NABC is not going to ask the NBA to pass on high school seniors as has been reported by some media outlets. The proposal is designed so college coaches don't have to wait until mid-June to know if a player is returning. "We want to give our guys some time because right now it's tough waiting that long (to know the roster for the following season)," said Reggie Minton, the associate director for the NABC. Saint Joseph's coach Phil Martelli didn't find out that junior Delonte West wasn't coming back to school until June 17. Mississippi State, Providence, LSU and Washington were all schools that had to wait until close to the deadline before knowing their rosters. NBA teams might fight this proposal if it doesn't give them enough time to evaluate a player's draft potential. But the decision will be up to the NBA and the NBAPA.