Tag Archives: College Basketball

Injustices Across Sports Pt. 2

By BJ

College Basketball

Last Sunday, suspensions were handed down to the players involved in the Cincinnati-Xavier on-court brawl that ended the game early. The most egregious act came from Cincinnati’s best player, senior Yancy Gates, who sucker-punched an opposing player a la LeGarrette Blount.

Blount, if you remember, was also a senior in 2009 and sucker-punched an opposing player immediately after a season-opening loss

Blount

to Boise State in 2009. His punishment? Suspended for 10 games. Blount went undrafted in the following year’s NFL draft but signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he became the team’s primary back in Week 7.

With that precedent, I would’ve liked to see Gates suspended for the rest of the season (at least 23 games) but would’ve found 20 games reasonable, roughly the same number of weeks Blount missed before returning right before the season ends and the playoffs. His punishment? Suspended for six games, along with two teammates.

That is an absolute travesty, considering how unlike with Blount’s

Frease - the martyr.

victim, Kenny Frease did not provoke Gates before the hammer punch, and he was immensely bloodied. What also isn’t mentioned is how Gates punched a second Xavier player in the face but received the same suspension that two others got, including one who stomped Frease on the ground, and just two more games than two Xavier players got, all while Gates is the only player to throw punches.

It sure is nice to be coddled with superstar treatment. To mitigate the

Gosselin before and after.

backlash of the short suspension, Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin offered tough words, saying that no player would automatically be allowed back on the team after serving their suspension; rather, Cronin would have to be fully convinced that the players were remorseful. What a load of bull. That’s about as unbelievable as saying Kate Gosselin didn’t have any plastic surgery done on her face. The players will be back asap, and if not, for a very short time that won’t make up for what the true suspension should be.

In the first game since the brawl, Cincinnati handled Wright State by 20; then-No. 9 and 8-0 Xavier lost to Oral Roberts by 22 at home. Got to love how karmic justice works sometimes.

NFL

Tuesday, James Harrisonwas suspended one game for his vicious

The hit.

helmet-to-helmet hit on defenseless QB Colt McCoy that left him with a concussion. Yes, it was the first suspension arising from a play on the field, but in comparison to Ndamukong Suh‘s two-game suspension for stomping and Harrison’s rap sheet, again, we have a suspension that falls far short of the crime.

One fan made a comment that rings so true. He said that the worst Suh could’ve done with his stomping is bruise the fallen player’s arm; Harrison could’ve, and likely did, give someone long-term brain damage. The linebacker has recorded his fifth flagrant hit on a quarterback, making him and Suh among the league’s dirtiest players.

The unsurprising response from Harrison: it shouldn’t even have been flagged, he appealed the one-game suspension, which he lost and he’s not going to change the way he plays. I fully expect Commissioner Goodell to push the envelope the next time Harrison goes dome-first on a defenseless player. And there will be a next time.

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Five Impact Freshmen

By Chris Le

College recruiters have been spoiled the past two years. I’m talking Paris Hilton, My Super Sweet 16 spoiled. In 2007, college basketball witnessed the dominance of Kevin Durant, Greg Oden and Mike Conley, the latter two who may be question marks now in the NBA but played like the next coming of Bill Russell and Chris Paul in college. That first year corps—which also included Thaddeus Young, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson, and Brook Lopez—looked like it wouldn’t be topped…until the very next year. The 2008 season welcomed an even deeper and more productive freshman class of Michael Beasley, Derrick Rose, OJ Mayo, Jerryd Bayless and Kevin Love (all one-and-dones), and budding superstars Blake Griffin, Austin Daye and Kyle Singler.

Compared to the past two classes, this year—like the economy—is experiencing a recession. Don’t expect the incoming crop to feature any All-American candidates, let alone the Player of the Year. Even the number of proverbial unpolished physical freaks (e.g. Anthony Randolph, Brandon Wright) is low, as only a handful of prospects are validly considered NBA-ready, or even look to possess the potential.

Granted, it might be a little unfair to compare any freshman class to the previous two. And it’s not to say that they’ll lack production. It’s just that these frosh are a little underwhelming.

Al-Farouq Aminu, SF/PF, Wake Forest – My favorite to win Freshman of the Year honors. I love this kid’s versatility. At 6’9”, 215 (with a 7’2” wingspan and upside to spare), Aminu will be all over the court. He can score from deep, off the dribble or in traffic—and he does it all smoothly and efficiently. I’ve been impressed since the second I saw him dominate against national powerhouse Helen Cox, outshining then top-ranked senior in the country Greg Monroe. Aminu heads possibly the nation’s top recruiting class and should make Wake Forest a serious player in the ACC. Needs to improve his strength and defensive consistency. Video Evidence. NBA Comparison: A more athletic Luol Deng.

Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, UCLA – The most polished and ready to contribute freshman in the country. His basketball IQ is as high as you’ll find in an 18-year-old. Offensive skills are highly developed and can score in a myriad of ways, whether to the rack or pulling up, but truly excels in the open court. Not sure about his point abilities, but with All-American floor general Darren Collison still running the offense, Holiday won’t have to worry about that. Video Evidence. NBA Comparison: Poor man’s Dwyane Wade.

Demar DeRozan, SG, USC – No O.J. Mayo? Not a problem. Meet Demar Derozan, the most explosive player to come out of high school in years. His hops are on par with that of the best NBAers. This kid from Compton can straight up jump out of the gym. Of course, having relied on his springs and quickness his whole life, he needs to improve his perimeter game and his left-hand handles. But he’ll be a dominant force right away just with his freakish athleticism. Figures to be a top-5 draft pick. Video Evidence. NBA Comparison: Vince Carter.

Tyreke Evans, SG, Memphis – Evans, touted as the top player in his class since he was in junior high, has the requisite swagger and lack of conscience needed in a go-to scorer. And if Evans is anything, he’s a scorer…probably the best in this group of freshmen. Possessing top-notch body awareness, NBA-range and an extremely natural yet cerebral feel for the game, Evans makes for amazing scoring exhibitions and makes it look sickeningly easy. He won’t offset the loss of Rose and Christopher Douglas-Roberts but cushions the blow. Not as extraordinary on the defensive end. Won’t be as effective if he’s forced to play the point guard position. Video Evidence. NBA comparison: A smaller Tracy McGrady.

BJ Mullens, C, Ohio State – The Buckeyes tried to replace Oden with Kosta Koufos in 2008. That didn’t pan out as expected, but they’re getting closer with Mullens, who does just about everything well. He’s a legit 7-footer who can run the court, shoot and finish around the rim. That’s why he’s Rivals.com’s No. 1 prospect. Mullen’s potential, perhaps more than any other freshman, is through the roof. Needs to develop a mean streak, and though he’s enormously well-rounded, he’s not exceptional at any one aspect. Video Evidence. NBA Comparison: A more athletic Andrew Bogut.

I’m not so excited about…

Greg Monroe, PF/C, Georgetown – Ranked the 8th best prospect in the nation by both Rivals.com and Scouts.com. At 6’11, 254, he’s got the frame and strength to be a handful in the paint, especially as a rebounder. In high school, though, he wasn’t very keen of the low-block, almost shying away from it. When I saw him play, with his team down, he lacked intensity and didn’t demand the ball in crunch time.  His face-up game and handles are nice, but he’s not exceptionally fast or athletic. I expect Monroe to struggle a bit. Video Evidence. NBA Comparison: Stronger but less athletic LaMarcus Aldridge.

73-Year-Old to Play College Ball

By Chris Le

When you’re old enough to witness FDR create the New Deal and pull America out of the Depression, playing basketball usually isn’t at the top of your priority list. When you’re that old, you’re more concerned with grandchildren, death or trying not to soil yourself.

No so with Ken Mink, 73, who will play for Roane State Junior College in Tennessee this coming season. After a successful night of shooting hoops in his driveway—with shot after shot swishing the net—Mink came to the realization that he still had a little bit of game in him. Sure, his numbers maybe ghastly (a 20-inch vertical, a 6.6-second 40 and of course, the bone density and diminished reflexes of a 73-year-old), but he has the jumper he showcased in his youth.

Before the advent of the hula hoop and audio cassettes (remember those?) just over 50 years ago, Mink wasn’t a half-bad player, even garnering some partial scholarships from Division I schools. He chose Lees Junior College in Kentucky instead because they offered him a full ride, and he played there until 1965, when he was kicked off the team for a prank—a false accusation according to Mink.

Fast-forward half a century and one day with a hot shooting hand in his driveway, Mink sent out letters to anyone who would listen. I’m not sure if he realistically expected anyone to give him the time of day, but as things turned out, Roane’s Coach Randy Nesbit did more than listen, he gave Mink a shot. And the rest is history.

Surprisingly, Mink looks pretty spry…for a 73-year-old. But there are no delusions of grandeur with Mink. He has no dreams of dropping 40 points in the NCAA (hell, even in the NIT) Tournament. No visions of dunking. No fantasies of draining a game-winning shot. He just wants to play—even if it’s only for a few minutes of garbage time.

UNC’s Hansbrough Coming Back

By Chris Le

North Carolina forward and consensus player of the year, Tyler Hansbrough, announced that he will forgo the NBA draft and return for his senior season. Hansbrough averaged 22.6 points and 10.2 rebounds, leading the Tar Heels to a 36-2 record before losing to eventual national champion Kansas in the Final Four.

Hansbrough’s announcement comes after fellow teammates, speedy point guard Ty Lawson and sharp-shooting Wayne Ellington, declared for the draft but will not hire agents, making them eligible to return to school.

If all three return, UNC will be the prohibitive favorite to win the 2009 National Championship. But if it is only Hansbrough that comes back, they’ll still remain a top-5 team with their depth and another solid recruiting class.

Bottom line: Hansbrough wants a national championship. There’s no other explanation for his return. It’s not because he wants to improve his draft stock; in fact, I don’t think it could be any higher. I view him as being in the same boat as UCLA’s Kevin Love, where his height and athleticism–the only aspects of his game that pro GMs question–won’t (can’t) get better with one more year of college.

Nope. For Hansbrough, it’s about ridding himself of that bitter taste in his mouth after disappointing tournament exits by the hands of Georgetown and Kansas. Additionally, next year’s draft looks to have a lot less depth, possibly upping his chances of going in the lottery.

Augustin To Take Off After Two Years At Texas

This will be an ongoing list of underclassmen who have declared for the NBA draft (with some comments provided by ESPN.com) and are either foregoing their college eligibility by signing with an agent or are very likely to stay in the draft. Underclassmen have until April 27 to declare for the June 26 draft. Those who did not hire an agent have until June 16 to withdraw their name from the draft.

D.J. Augustin, Texas (Sophomore), PG – Projection: Lottery
Recap: All-American, won Bob Cousy Award for top point guard, led team with averages of 19.2 points and 5.8 assists and 118 3-pointers.

Keith Brumbaugh, Hillsborough Community College, SF – Projection: Late first to early second
Recap: Top scorer in the junior college level, averaging 36.5 points to go with 10 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 4.8 steals.

Chris Douglas-Roberts, Memphis (Junior), SG – Projection: Late first to early second
Recap: All-American, NCAA all-tournament team, Conference USA player of the year, averaged a team-high 18.1 points and 41.3 percent on 3-pointers and helped Memphis win 38 games, a record for most wins in a season.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, UCLA (Junior), SF – Projection: Late first to early second
Pros: Aggressive defender.
Similarities: Ron Artest

Kevin Love, UCLA (Freshman), C – Projection: Lottery
Recap: All-American who averaged a team-high 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds.
Pros: Strong in the paint.
Similarities: Bill Walton

Brandon Rush, Kansas (Junior), SG – Projection: Mid to late first round
Recap: MVP of the Big 12 tournament, and averaged a team-high 13.3 points.

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5 Reasons Why Memphis Lost

By Bryan Jeon

Memphis obviously didn’t play a perfect game, but they did enough to be able to win the championship. Here are 5 reasons why Memphis blew a 9-point lead with just over two minutes remaining en route to a 75-68 overtime loss.

  • Derrick Rose‘s invisibility cloak in the first half. There were thoughts that Rose was still feeling it from his stomach ailment the day before the way he would give up the ball as soon as he came down the court. He finished the half with three points compared with 15 second-half points, as Memphis headed into the break with a 5-point deficit, their largest deficit at halftime in the season.
  • The Tigers were criminally negligent with the ball at times, leading to 11 Jayhawk steals, none bigger than the inbounds pass and subsequent 3-pointer by Sherron Collins to give Kansas five quick points and trim the deficit to 60-56.
  • Memphis big man Joey Dorsey fouled out with with 1:23 left in regulation. His absence in overtime allowed the Jayhawks to do what they did all game, penetrate inside for high-percentage shots.
  • Missed free throws. Chris Douglas-Roberts missed his last three free throws, including two with 16 seconds left to keep it at 62-60, and Rose made just one of two with 10 seconds left to make it 63-60. That prevented it from being a two-possession game with 10 seconds left, which would have virtually put it away.
  • Mario Chalmers made his game-tying 3-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Do you need to be told to play the perimeter tightly? He got a great look, and his clutch shot will probably now replace Tyus Edney‘s famous full-court drive for the game-winning layup commercial. And you know how the story ends.

Despite the late-game collapse and loss of the national championship, Memphis set the record for most wins in a season, finishing 38-2 (Kansas finished 37-3). The team I chose to take it all from the start of the tournament tried to become just the second team in NCAA tournament history to win the title with a sub-65% FT in the regular season (’04 Connecticut). Boy, did that come back to bite them when it counted. Memphis finished the season shooting 61.4% from the charity strike, led by Douglas-Roberts’ and Rose’s 71.2%. It remains to be seen who’ll pull out early for the draft, particularly the freshman Rose, who was a third-team All-American. Dorsey is a senior and made a strong showing throughout the tournament on the glass despite battling foul trouble in the close games. All in all, a heck of a run by a number one seed and C-USA team many didn’t see making the Final Four.

Bilas and Le Batard Verbally Tussle On-Air

By Chris Le

Once again, Dan Le Batard proves himself to be an idiot—and what sounds like a racist.

Prior to last night’s National Championship game, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas was a guest on Le Batard’s Miami radio show. With the title game looming, one would assume they would discuss the Memphis-Kansas matchup, but Le Betard had other things in mind. Oh no, he thought race in the NBA was a more appropriate topic.

Le Batard proceeds to ask, since there appears to be a lack of first-rate white-American players in the league, would NBA teams be cautious of Michael Beasley’s ability if he were white? He then poses the reverse scenario for Tyler Hansbrough: if he were black would scouts be questioning his NBA potential?

My man, Jay Bilas, who doesn’t even bother to hide his distaste for Le Ba-turd, goes on to shove everything in his face.