Friday, October 15, 2010
From Around the World of the College Hardwood
Lots of things are going on in the College Hardwood. Some are well known. Some, not so. So let's start in the "Under the Radar" category (thus the love for "Radar Love"!), last week James Madison found out that junior transfer Anthony Hitchens will be eligible this season to play for the Dukes. Hitchens, who was a member of the all MAC freshman team with the Zips, had the fourth best assistant to turnover ratio in the MAC last season at 1.84, averaging 8.5 points and 3 assists per game. Hitchens was granted a waiver to play this season by the NCAA.
With the addition of Hitchens, this may mean that coach Matt Brady will move Devon Moore to the two guard position. This would give the Dukes a formidable lineup of Hitchens, Moore, Andrey Semenov, Julius Wells and the one man double-double wrecking crew, Denzel Bowles. Moore and Semenov were out for most of last season due to injury. If Moore and Semenov stay healthy, the Dukes should contend for the CAA title. The addition of Hitchens moves Madison up to third on my preseason poll for the CAA.
Also last week, In the "I Don't Think That's Quite Enough Punishment for the NCAA's Liking" category, the University of Connecticut admitted that the men's basketball program committed "Major" violations and put the team on a two year probation. The men's basketball team will lose one scholarship for each of the next two seasons. However, the University did not find enough evidence to find that Coach Jim Calhoun had "failed to promote an atmosphere for compliance".
Now let's take a look at UConn's "punishment". First, losing one scholarship each season, meaning 12 scholarships instead of 13, really means that Jim Calhoun can't get that third backup point guard (who is probably better off being the starter at say Northeastern anyhow). That doesn't seem like much like a punishment to me. It's like telling a bank robber, "Ok, I caught you robbing the bank, but I am going to give you one month jail time."
Second, when the school acknowledges that the team's coaching staff exchanged 1,400 calls and 1,100 text messages during an over three year period with agent/business manager Josh Nochimson, who was a former team manager for UConn, folks that's not an atmosphere of compliance by Coach Calhoun. Think about that. That's like three calls and 2 texts a day. Hell I am lucky if I call my wife once a day (and she doesn't text).
Finally, Nochimson is certainly not a boy scout. He is being sued by former UConn and current Detroit Piston star Richard "Rip" Hamilton of stealing $1 million during Nochimson's tenure as Hamilton's business manager. Nochimson was "representing" former UConn player Nate Miles who was expelled from UConn after being arresting for violating a restraining order for abusing a female student. Nochimson has been accused of providing lodging, transportation and meals to Miles. Since Nochimson was a former employee and an alumnus of UConn, he is considered "a representative of the institution's athletic interests" and thus would be in violation of NCAA rules for doing so.
So one scholarship each season and two years probation? After the Josh Luchs' revelations, similar to what's going on with Enes Kanter, the NCAA is not going to look very kindly to this and I think they will impose harsher sanctions.
Now, mind you I haven't thought this all the way through, but if I were responsible for imposing the sanctions, here's what I would do. I would make it at least three scholarships for the next three seasons, one for each year of 300 plus calls and 200 plus texts.
But I wouldn't stop there. For the next three seasons (starting this season would be too difficult), UConn can not play a home non conference game and can not be paid for taking a road game. What would that mean? Well for example, if it started this season, instead of playing Vermont or New Hampshire at Gampel or even Tennessee at the XL center in Hartford, the Huskies would have to travel to Vermont, New Hampshire and play Tennessee in Knoxville. It's less money for the school and also makes season ticket holders very upset. Perhaps they will be "Howling Huskies."
There has to be a serious enough punishment and denying ticket holders the right to see several games, thus upsetting the school's fan base might be a good start. Like I said, I haven't thought this through, but I think it would at least be interesting, especially for Vermont and New Hampshire fans who get to see a quality home game.
As for Calhoun and company, they are meeting with the NCAA today in Indianapolis to see if the school imposed punishment is enough. Wouldn't you like to be a fly on the wall for that meeting?
Finally, give St John's coach Steve Lavin some props. He has already signed three top 100 prospects for the 2011-12 season. And yesterday, Lavin got St John's to hire his former mentor, former Purdue coach Gene Keady as an advisor. Keady is a terrific coach who led Purdue to 22 postseason appearances in 25 years. Pretty damn impressive. Keady will advise Lavin on practices and staff meetings.
It's a great move by Lavin to get an experienced X's and O's coach involved. With at least five new NYC metro area coaches - Lavin at St John's, Tim Cluess at Iona, Mo Cassara at Hofstra, Dan Hurley at Wagner and Tom Pecora now at Fordham, all of whom seemingly have talented current teams or teams with talented future recruits coming in. Perhaps city basketball is back on the rise and thus why I am in a New York State of Mind.