St. Joseph's coach Phil Martelli's failure to allow seldom-used center Todd O'Brien to transfer to UAB is a classic example showing how loyalty has become too much of a one-way street. Players considering their options occasionally are grilled by coaches and commentators for contemplating transferring to another school or leaving early for the NBA. But there are countless examples of an institution of lower learning holding a player's eligibility hostage out of sheer vindictiveness. How much more one-sided can it be when that lame double standard exists?
After all, the value systems for high-profile coaches are sufficiently open-minded to permit running out on contracts when more lucrative jobs come open. Contracts are understood to be for the protection of the coach, not the team, whose players are somehow indentured to the schools for as many as four years of eligibility unless of course a coach chooses not to renew their scholarships.
The length of contracts doesn't seem to carry any weight as a factor in the equation. At least 25 active head coaches took off for greener pastures with more than five years remaining on pacts. Rather than stiffing a backup player like O'Brien, Martelli should be more concerned about those vagabonds and other peers who each left as many as three different schools in the lurch such as Lon Kruger, Kevin O'Neill, Bill Self and Tubby Smith.
CollegeHoopedia.com has assembled an extensive list of "pompous pilots" who had contractual obligations to schools when they abandoned ship like so many rats at some point in their coaching careers.
More than 45 NCAA Division I schools have lost to DII Alaska-Anchorage after the Seawolves upended UC Irvine early this season, 77-63. Over the years, Alaska-Anchorage upended the following current/future members from top six power conferences - Auburn, California, Houston, Miami, Michigan, Missouri, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, TCU, Texas Tech, Wake Forest and Washington.
Michigan's 1989 NCAA Tournament champion lost on a neutral court (Utah) to Anchorage, 70-66, during the Wolverines' pre-Big Ten Conference competition slate. The Seawolves dropped six of their last 12 games that season against Chaminade, Metro State (twice), Eastern Montana, Puget Sound and Alaska-Fairbanks to finish with a 21-9 record before Michigan earned an NCAA crown maneuvering through the DI playoffs under interim coach Steve Fisher.
UAA defeated at least one major university 10 consecutive campaigns from 1985-86 through 1994-95. CollegeHoopedia.com has assembled "one-of-a-kind" details on the striking number of "David vs. Goliath" small-college victories over major universities.
"Movin'" Marvin Barnes' rap sheet was moving on up in mid-January after the three-time Providence All-American, now 59, was arraigned in Rhode Island on a charge of soliciting a 17-year-old minor for sex after they met through his Rebound Foundation for at-risk youths. Barnes' previous indiscretions are too numerous to mention but are summarized among 50 former All-Americans included in CollegeHoopmedia.com's "Bad Boys of Basketball."
The formation of the Big East Conference wouldn't occur for another seven years after Barnes powered the Friars to the 1973 Final Four. While Barnes isn't among the derelicts, the Big East has had about 10 former all-league selections become pokey bound after Chicago product Kelly Whitney, one of Seton Hall's all-time top 20 scorers (1,498 points from 2002-03 through 2005-06), was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty in Newark to burglary, criminal restraint and conspiracy to commit burglary stemming from him allegedly masterminding a break-in where he and Pirates player Robert Mitchell robbed eight people, including several SHU students, at gunpoint in mid-March 2010 in a private home near the South Orange campus. Mitchell, who testified against Whitney, was sentenced to five years' probation.
Former Syracuse sensation Dave Bing, after failing to balance the budget the past two years as Detroit's mayor, unveiled what appeared to be a reasonable rescue plan the first week in January that he says can save the city from insolvency. But the facts-don't-lie plan is not new and depends largely on concessions that unions have strongly resisted. If the union bosses don't take a prompt remedial math class and budge in the pressure-packed atmosphere, then Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder could appoint an emergency financial manager, who would have authority to stop paying the city council and mayor, strip union contracts and sell off assets or have the city enter into a consent agreement with the state.
The pressure on Bing, a two-time All-American swingman, probably hasn't been this intense to deliver results since the weight of the world was on his shoulders in the 1966 NCAA Tournament when the senior teammate of Orange coach Jim Boeheim was limited to 10 points (more than 18 below his nationally fifth-best average) and committed a team-high 6 turnovers in a 91-81 setback against Duke in the East Regional final. Boeheim, who scored 15 points in the loss, probably can commiserate with Bing about crisis management in the wake of the abuse allegations involving long-time assistant Bernie Fine and Yahoo Sports' report about SU's longstanding pattern of failing to adhere to its drug policy.
CollegeHoopedia.com has conducted exhaustive research on what All-Americans have done in a wide variety of vocations in the "real world" after their basketball-playing days ended.
Kentucky freshman phenom Anthony Davis, pacing the nation in blocked shots, is a lock to become SEC Player of the Year and help UK become the first school ever to have 40 different individuals named as an All-American. But emerging on the scene during the time of year focusing extensively on college bowl games and the NFL playoffs, his name made some observers reminisce about someone else outside the world of basketball. Well-rounded sports fans remember Anthony Davis, a USC running back who was runner-up in the 1974 Heisman Trophy voting to Ohio State's Archie Griffin after scoring four touchdowns in a memorable nine-minute span to help the Trojans erase a 24-0 deficit against Notre Dame.
In the wake of Joe Paterno's passing, to what extent can this contrived name association be taken? Following is an alphabetical list of former basketball all-league first-team choices whose names have a more familiar ring in football:
Willie Brown, G, Texas Western (1961-62 in Border Conference)
Willie Brown, G, Middle Tennessee (1967-68 and 1968-69 in Ohio Valley)
Kevin Green, G, Loyola, Md. (1990-91 and 1991-92 in MAAC)
Charlie Johnson, G, California (1968-69 in Pacific-8)
Jerry Jones, F-C, Southern Illinois (1989-90 in Missouri Valley)
Chris Long, G, Elon (2010-11 in Southern)
Don Miller, G, Morehead State (1950-51 in Ohio Valley)
Joe Paterno, F, Fordham (1987-88 and 1988-89 in MAAC)
Carlos Rogers, C, Tennessee State (1992-93 and 1993-94 in Ohio Valley)
Jerry Smith, G-F, Furman (1960-61 through 1962-63 in Southern)
Jim Turner, F-C, Brown (1985-86 in Ivy League)
Charlie White, F, Oregon State (1965-66 in Pacific-8)
Randy White, C, Louisiana Tech (1987-88 and 1988-89 in American South)
Willie Woods, F, Eastern Kentucky (1969-70 in Ohio Valley)
CollegeHoopedia.com has conducted extensive research on trailblazing African-Americans who broke the color barrier at current DI schools. But amid ESPN's stereotypical bombarding the airwaves for six weeks with politically-correct segments from MLK's birthday through Black History month in February, it could be worth assessing the racial overtones of college basketball through the current minority prism of the white player.
There is some credence to refraining from judging a book by its cover. But the last time a majority of the NCAA consensus All-American first-team selections were white was 1969-70 (LSU's Pete Maravich, Purdue's Rick Mount and Kentucky's Dan Issel). Non-whites accounted for more than 83 percent of the NCAA consensus All-American first- and second-selections since the shot clock was introduced nationwide in 1985-86. Alarmists might beg to differ, but the white American player hasn't exactly slipped into extinction. In 2008-09, North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough became the first Caucasian four-time All-American since La Salle's Tom Gola (1952 through 1955).
Clearly, the only "Great White Hopes" with any realistic chance of becoming an NCAA consensus first-team All-American this year were Purdue's Robbie Hummel, Creighton's Doug McDermott and North Carolina's Tyler Zeller. Hummel's first-team prospects faded by mid-season but, after returning from major knee surgery, it will still be a significant achievement even if he is a second- or third-team choice. After all, the only individual ever to return to All-American status following a medical redshirt was Kentucky center Sam Bowie, who achieved the feat in 1983-84 after missing the previous two seasons because of a leg injury. Meanwhile, Zeller's play picked up in ACC competition although probably not enough to propel him to first-team status.
As for McDermott, he averaged 25.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in three non-league victories over Big Ten Conference members. But according to a politically-direct UCF study several years ago, McDermott faces an uphill climb inasmuch as less than 1/3 of NCAA Division I players are white. Last year, BYU's Jimmer Fredette joined the following alphabetical list of only 18 different white players, four from Duke, named as an NCAA consensus first-team All-American in the last 30 seasons:
White First-Team All-American, Position, School (Season)
Steve Alford, G, Indiana (1985-86 and 1986-87)
Andrew Bogut, C, Utah (2004-05)
Nick Collison, F, Kansas (2002-03)
Dan Dickau, G, Gonzaga (2001-02)
Danny Ferry, F, Duke (1988-89)
Jimmer Fredette, G, Brigham Young (2010-11)
Tyler Hansbrough, F-C, North Carolina (2006-07 through 2008-09)
Bobby Hurley, G, Duke (1992-93)
Casey Jacobsen, F-G, Stanford (2000-01)
Christian Laettner, F-C, Duke (1991-92)
Raef LaFrentz, F-C, Kansas (1996-97 and 1997-98)
Kevin Love, C, UCLA (2007-08)
Chris Mihm, C, Texas (1999-2000)
Adam Morrison, F, Gonzaga (2005-06)
Chris Mullin, G, St. John's (1984-85)
Troy Murphy, F, Notre Dame (1999-2000 and 2000-01)
J.J. Redick, G, Duke (2004-05 and 2005-06)
Keith Van Horn, F, Utah (1996-97)
Jim Larranaga, in his debut campaign with Miami (FL), is positioning the 'Canes for a possible NCAA at-large bid after 14 seasons coaching George Mason. Another coach winning about two-thirds of his games in a debut season after a long stint elsewhere is Georgia State's Ron Hunter, who served 17 seasons with IUPUI (moved up to the Division level in 1998-99).
Retired Jim Calhoun posted a 9-19 mark with Connecticut in 1986-87 after serving 14 campaigns with Northeastern. Active coaches who had the longest tenures before leaving willingly for a similar job with another DI school are:
Fran Dunphy--12-18 record with Temple in 2006-07 after 17 years with Penn
Dana Altman--21-18 with Oregon in 2010-11 after 16 years with Creighton
Roy Williams--19-11 with North Carolina in 2003-04 after 15 years with Kansas
At the time, it seemed equivalent to betting everything on a penny stock. But it can turn into a bonanza as evidenced by Duke's Mike Krzyzewski going on to become the all-time winningest major-college mentor after arriving in Durham to homestead Krzyzewskiville on the heels of a season W-L record eight games below .500 with Army.
There were mixed reactions recently when first-year Lamar coach Pat Knight, evoking comparisons to his forceful father (Bob Knight), scorched the seniors he inherited with a post-game press conference diatribe. Krzyzewski and Pat Knight are among the following active coaches hired by their current school despite coming off a season when they posted a losing record:
Active Coach, Current School/Losing Season Record With Previous School
Jeff Bzdelik, Wake Forest/15-16 record with Colorado in 2009-10
Pat Knight, Lamar/13-19 with Texas Tech in 2010-11
Mike Krzyzewski, Duke/9-17 with Army with 1979-80
Greg McDermott, Creighton/15-17 with Iowa State in 2009-10
Lorenzo Romar, Washington/15-16 with Saint Louis in 2001-02
Joe Scott, Denver/11-17 with Princeton in 2006-07
Billy Taylor, Ball State/12-19 with Lehigh in 2006-07
Rex Walters, San Francisco/15-18 with Florida Atlantic in 2007-08
Despite a frustration flap with his father/coach, there is little doubt Creighton forward Doug McDermott will be anointed as an All-American this season. But will any other mid-major diamond-in-the-rough be treated in a similar fashion?
Understandably, playmaker-obsessed analyst Doug Gottlieb promoted Iona guard Scott Machado all last season. But Machado, leading the nation in assists, may have messed up monumentally with a seven-point, four-turnover outing at Loyola (MD) in a recent battle for first place in the MAAC. Gottlieb probably would have been better off conducting PR for Saint Mary's floor general Matthew Dellavedova, the West Coast Conference's player of the year.
Among the mid-level players with high-level games are Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan (led the Racers to a 23-0 start), Weber State guard Damian Lillard (leading the nation in scoring), UNLV frontcourter Mike Moser (one of the country's top rebounders) and Norfolk State center Kyle O'Quinn (perhaps the nation's best-kept secret).
Questioning the qualifications of voters quickly comes to mind when assessing the list of standouts who weren't acknowledged as All-Americans. Despite stellar collegiate careers, including player of the year acclaim in a mid-major conference, a striking number of individuals didn't generate sufficient national recognition to be chosen as an All-American. For instance, Paul Millsap of Louisiana Tech led the nation in rebounding three straight seasons from 2003-04 through 2005-06 but wasn't accorded All-American status. Norris Cole, Mr. Versatility for Cleveland State last season, was shunned before going on to average almost 9 ppg and 3 apg with the Miami Heat this year.
The overlooked features two prominent floor generals who went on to lead the NBA in assists a total of 14 times--John Stockton (nine) and two-time MVP Steve Nash (five)--plus Tim Hardaway, who averaged 8.2 apg during his 13-year pro career; Joe Dumars, a six-time NBA All-Star guard and 1989 NBA Finals MVP, and Derek Fisher, who received five championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers in the first decade of the 21st Century. Among shunned frontcourters, two-time conference MVPs Chris Gatling, Brian Grant, Popeye Jones and Rik Smits each played at least 11 seasons in the NBA.
Whether they are coaches who need to come out of the film-watching closet or members of the lame stream media, many incompetent voters should be deep-sixed for overdosing on the premier leagues while looking condescendingly upon mid-level players. Why were the following DI conference MVPs left behind in regard to securing All-American status before they enjoyed NBA/ABA careers of at least six seasons?
Player, Position, School (Mid-Level Conference/MVP Season)
Mark Acres, F, Oral Roberts (Midwestern City/1982-83 and 1983-84)
Rick Adelman, G, Loyola, Calif. (West Coast Athletic/1967-68)
Jim Ard, C, Cincinnati (Missouri Valley/1969-70)
Vin Baker, C, Hartford (North Atlantic/1992-93)
Jose Juan Barea, G, Northeastern (Colonial Athletic Association/2005-06)
Anthony Carter, G, Hawaii (Western Athletic/1996-97)
Terry Catledge, F, South Alabama (Sun Belt/1983-84 and 1984-85)
Chris Childs, G, Boise State (Big Sky/1988-89)
Doug Christie, G-F, Pepperdine (West Coast/1990-91 and 1991-92)
Craig "Speedy" Claxton, G, Hofstra (America East/1997-98 and 1999-2000)
Wayne Cooper, C, New Orleans (Sun Belt/1977-78)
Antonio Daniels, G, Bowling Green (Mid-American/1996-97)
Bryce Drew, G, Valparaiso (Mid-Continent/1996-97 and 1997-98)
Joe Dumars, G, McNeese State (Southland/1984-85)
Ledell Eackles, F, New Orleans (American South/1987-88)
Blue Edwards, F, East Carolina (Colonial Athletic Association/1988-89)
Melvin Ely, C, Fresno State (Western Athletic/2000-01 and 2001-02)
Derek Fisher, G, Arkansas-Little Rock (Sun Belt/1995-96)
Fred Foster, F, Miami of Ohio (Mid-American/1967-68)
Winston Garland, G, Southwest Missouri State (Mid-Continent/1986-87)
Chris Gatling, C-F, Old Dominion (Sun Belt/1989-90 and 1990-91)
Kenny Gattison, F, Old Dominion (Sun Belt/1985-86)
Mike Glenn, G, Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley/1975-76)
Brian Grant, F-C, Xavier (Midwestern Collegiate/1992-93 and 1993-94)
Willie Green, G, Detroit (Horizon League/2002-03)
Bob Gross, F-G, Long Beach State (PCAA/1974-75)
Tim Hardaway, G, Texas-El Paso (Western Athletic/1988-89)
Trenton Hassell, F, Austin Peay (Ohio Valley/2000-01)
Armond Hill, G, Princeton (Ivy League/1975-76)
Tyrone Hill, F-C, Xavier (Midwestern Collegiate/1989-90)
Roy Hinson, C, Rutgers (Atlantic 10/1982-83)
Lindsey Hunter, G, Jackson State (Southwestern Athletic/1992-93)
Avery Johnson, G, Southern, La. (Southwestern Athletic/1987-88)
Eddie Jones, F-G, Temple (Atlantic 10/1993-94)
Ronald "Popeye" Jones, C, Murray State (Ohio Valley/1989-90 and 1990-91)
Chris Kaman, C, Central Michigan (Mid-American/2002-03)
Joe Kleine, C, Arkansas (Southwest/1984-85)
Larry Krystkowiak, F, Montana (Big Sky/1983-84 through 1985-86)
Jim Les, G, Bradley (Missouri Valley/1985-86)
Reggie Lewis, F, Boston University (ECAC North Atlantic/1984-85 through 1986-87)
Grant Long, F, Eastern Michigan (Mid-American/1987-88)
Pace Mannion, G-F, Utah (Western Athletic/1982-83)
Aaron McKie, G, Temple (Atlantic 10/1992-93)
Steve Mix, C-F, Toledo (Mid-American/1968-69)
Steve Nash, G, Santa Clara (West Coast/1994-95 and 1995-96)
Johnny Newman, F, Richmond (ECAC South/1983-84)
Norm Nixon, G, Duquesne (Eastern Collegiate Basketball League/1976-77)
Michael Olowokandi, C, Pacific (Big West/1997-98)
Anthony Parker, G-F, Bradley (Missouri Valley/1995-96)
Robert "Sonny" Parker, G-F, Texas A&M (Southwest/1974-75)
Tim Perry, F, Temple (Atlantic 10/1987-88)
Kurt Rambis, C-F, Santa Clara (West Coast Athletic/1979-80)
Dan Roundfield, F, Central Michigan (Mid-American/1974-75)
Brian Shaw, G, UC Santa Barbara (PCAA/1987-88)
Reggie Slater, C, Wyoming (Western Athletic/1991-92)
Larry Smith, F, Alcorn State (Southwestern Athletic/1979-80)
Rik Smits, C, Marist (ECAC Metro/1986-87 and 1987-88)
Ricky Sobers, G, UNLV (West Coast Athletic/1974-75)
John Stockton, G, Gonzaga (West Coast Athletic/1983-84)
Rodney Stuckey, G, Eastern Washington (Big Sky/2005-06)
George Trapp, F, Long Beach State (PCAA/1969-70 and 1970-71)
Gary Trent, F, Ohio University (Mid-American/1992-93 through 1994-95)
Ronny Turiaf, F, Gonzaga (West Coast/2004-05)
David Wesley, G, Baylor (Southwest/1991-92)
The amazing six-overtime thriller between Connecticut and Syracuse in the 2009 Big East Conference Tournament quarterfinals is relatively easy to remember. But one of the most titillating tourney tidbits among all leagues that gets overlooked because the Southwest Conference is defunct remains Texas Tech's Rick Bullock singlehandedly outscoring the "Triplets" from Arkansas (Ron Brewer, Marvin Delph and Sidney Moncrief) by seven points, 44-37, when he set the SWC's single-game tournament scoring record in the 1976 semifinals.
Don't hesitate to capitalize on the links for the current Division I conferences cited below to refresh your memory about past champions. In the meantime, here are some more names and numbers of note about previous conference tournament competition to reflect upon as teams tune up for the main event by jockeying for position in the NCAA playoff bracket:
America East - The 1989 North Atlantic Tournament was dubbed the MIT (Measles Invitational Tourney) because all spectators were banned due to a measles outbreak. Delaware competed for 17 years in the East Coast Conference and never won an ECC Tournament championship. But the Blue Hens entered the AEC predecessor, the North Atlantic, in 1992 and won their first-ever title and went to the NCAA playoffs for the initial time. They successfully defended their crown the next year before closing out the decade with another set of back-to-back tourney titles.
Atlantic Coast - Maryland, ranking fourth in both polls, lost in overtime against eventual NCAA champion North Carolina State, 103-100, in the 1974 final in what some believe might have been the greatest college game ever played. Three players from each team earned All-American honors during their careers - North Carolina State's David Thompson, Tom Burleson and Monte Towe plus Maryland's John Lucas, Len Elmore and Tom McMillen. The Terrapins had four players score at least 20 points - Lucas, McMillen, Owen Brown and Mo Howard - in a 20-point victory over 22-6 North Carolina (105-85) in the semifinals. The Terps, of course, didn't participate in the NCAA playoffs that year because a 32-team bracket allowing teams other than the league champion to be chosen on an at-large basis from the same conference wasn't adopted until the next season.
Big Sky - Montana, capitalizing on a homecourt advantage, overcame a jinx by winning back-to-back tournament titles in 1991 and 1992. The Grizzlies had just two losing regular-season league records from 1976 through 1990, but they didn't win the tournament title in that span, losing the championship game five times from 1978 through 1984.
Big South - The No. 1 seed won this unpredictable tourney only five times in the first 17 years. Radford failed to reach the postseason tournament final for nine years until capturing the event in 1998.
Big West - Pacific didn't compile a winning league record from 1979 through 1992, but the Tigers climaxed three consecutive appearances in the tournament semifinals by advancing to the '92 championship game.
Conference USA - Three of four C-USA Tournament champions from 1997 through 2000 won four games in four days. Cincinnati captured six league tournament titles in seven years from 1992 through 1998 in the Great Midwest and C-USA.
Horizon League - The first two tournament winners (Oral Roberts '80 and Oklahoma City '81) of the league's forerunner, the Midwestern City, subsequently shed Division I status and de-emphasized to the NAIA level. ORU, which also won the crown in 1984, returned to Division I status in 1993-94. Butler lost its first 12 games in the tourney until breaking into the win column in 1992.
Mid-Eastern Athletic - North Carolina A&T won seven consecutive titles from 1982 through 1988. The Aggies defeated Howard in the championship game each of the first six years of their streak with the middle four of them decided by a total of only 17 points.
SEC - Seven of the 13 tourney MVPs from 1979 through 1991 didn't play for the champion. One of them, LSU's John Williams, didn't even compete in the 1986 title game. Although Kentucky standout center Alex Groza saw limited action in the 1947 tournament because of a back injury, the Wildcats cruised to victories over Vanderbilt (98-29), Auburn (84-18), Georgia Tech (75-53) and Tulane (55-38). UK was also without Converse All-American guard Jack Parkinson (serving in the military), but the five-man all-tourney team was comprised of nothing but Wildcats - forwards Jack Tingle and Joe Holland, center Wallace "Wah Wah" Jones and guards Ken Rollins and Ralph Beard. UK (24) has won more than half of the SEC's tourneys.
Southern - Furman's Jerry Martin, an outfielder who hit .251 in 11 years with the Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, Kansas City Royals and New York Mets from 1974 through 1984, was named MVP in the 1971 tournament after the 6-1 guard led the Paladins to the title with 22-, 36- and 19-point performances to pace the tourney in scoring. Two years earlier, current Davidson coach Bob McKillop scored three points for East Carolina against the Lefty Driesell-coached Wildcats in the 1969 SC Tournament championship game.
Southland - North Texas State's Kenneth Lyons outscored Louisiana Tech's Karl Malone, 47-6, when Lyons established a still existing single-game scoring record in the 1983 tournament quarterfinals. Malone led the SLC in rebounding (10.3 rpg) and steals (1.9 spg) that season as a freshman before going on to score more than 30,000 points in the NBA. Two years earlier, McNeese State won a first-round game after going winless in regular-season conference competition.
SWAC - Regular-season champion Grambling State lost by 50 points to Southern (105-55) in the 1987 final. An interesting twist that year was the fact Bob Hopkins, Grambling's first-year coach, had coached Southern the previous three seasons.
Sun Belt - South Alabama's stall didn't prevent the Jaguars from losing to New Orleans, 22-20, on Nate Mills' last-second jumper in the 1978 final. The next season, the Sun Belt became the first league to experiment with a 45-second shot clock. The four different schools that accounted for the participants in six consecutive finals from 1980 through 1985 went on to join other conferences - UAB, Old Dominion, South Florida and Virginia Commonwealth. Two-time champion Charlotte also abandoned ship.
West Coast - The top two seeds didn't meet in the championship game until 2000. The most tragic moment in the history of any conference tournament occurred in the semifinals of the 1990 event at Loyola Marymount when Hank Gathers, the league's all-time scoring leader and a two-time tourney MVP, collapsed on his home court during the Lions' game with Portland. He died later that evening and the tournament was suspended. The Lions earned the NCAA Tournament bid because of their regular-season crown and advanced to the West Regional final behind the heroics of Bo Kimble, who was Gathers' longtime friend from Philadelphia.
Western Athletic - The tourney's biggest upset occurred in 1990 when No. 9 seed Air Force defeated No. 1 seed Colorado State in the quarterfinals, 58-51. Hawaii's Carl English, averaging 3.9 points per game as a freshman during the regular season, had a season-high 25 in a 78-72 overtime victory against host Tulsa in the 2001 final.
Who will be the next touted team to fail to live up to preseason hype? Freshman guard Ryan Boatright's return to defending NCAA champion Connecticut's lineup after his second NCAA suspension (totaling nine games) wasn't enough to right the Huskies' listing ship in 2011-12. Coupled with coach Jim Calhoun on and off the sideline before he retired in late summer, UConn (ranked #4 entering this year) joined the following list of more than 20 disappointing teams, including Michigan State under Tom Izzo three times in an eight-year span from 2003-04 through 2010-11, that were preseason Top 5 selections since 1968-69 but finished out of the AP's final Top 20 poll:
|Preseason Top 5 Team||Season||Preseason AP Ranking||Coach||Record||Top Players|
|Notre Dame||1968-69||4th||Johnny Dee||20-7||Austin Carr, Bob Arnzen, Bob Whitmore, Dwight Murphy, Collis Jones and Sid Catlett|
|Purdue||1969-70||3rd||George King||18-6||Rick Mount, Larry Weatherford, George Faerber, Bob Ford, William Franklin and Tyrone Bedford|
|Southern California||1971-72||3rd||Bob Boyd||16-10||Paul Westphal, Joe Mackey, Ron Riley, Dan Anderson and Mike Westra|
|Florida State||1972-73||2nd||Hugh Durham||18-8||Reggie Royals, Lawrence McCray, Otis Cole, Benny Clyde and Otis Johnson|
|Indiana||1976-77||5th||Bob Knight||14-13||Kent Benson, Mike Woodson, Wayne Radford and Derek Holcomb|
|Kansas||1978-79||5th||Ted Owens||18-11||Darnell Valentine, Paul Mokeski, John Crawford, Wilmore Fowler and Tony Guy|
|DePaul||1984-85||3rd||Joey Meyer||19-10||Tyrone Corbin, Kenny Patterson, Dallas Comegys, Marty Embry, Tony Jackson and Kevin Holmes|
|Indiana||1984-85||4th||Bob Knight||19-14||Steve Alford, Uwe Blab, Stew Robinson, Dan Dakich, Delray Brooks and Daryl Thomas|
|Louisville||1986-87||2nd||Denny Crum||18-14||Herbert Crook, Pervis Ellison, Tony Kimbro, Mark McSwain, Keith Williams, Kenny Payne and Felton Spencer|
|Michigan State||1990-91||4th||Jud Heathcote||19-11||Steve Smith, Matt Steigenga, Mike Peplowski and Mark Montgomery|
|Clemson||1997-98||5th||Rick Barnes||18-14||Greg Buckner, Terrell McIntyre, Harold Jamison and Tony Christie|
|Auburn||1999-2000||4th||Cliff Ellis||24-10||Chris Porter, Doc Robinson, Scott Pohlman, Daymeon Fishback, Mamadou N'diaye and Mack McGadney|
|UCLA||2001-02||5th||Steve Lavin||21-12||Jason Kapono, Billy Knight, Matt Barnes, Dan Gadzuric and T.J. Cummings|
|Arizona||2003-04||4th||Lute Olson||20-10||Hassan Adams, Salim Stoudamire, Channing Frye, Andre Iguodala and Mustafa Shakur|
|Michigan State||2003-04||3rd||Tom Izzo||18-12||Paul Davis, Chris Hill, Kelvin Torbert, Maurice Ager and Alan Anderson|
|Missouri||2003-04||5th||Quin Snyder||16-14||Arthur Johnson, Rickey Paulding, Linas Kleiza, Jimmy McKinney, Travon Bryant and Jason Conley|
|Georgia Tech||2004-05||3rd||Paul Hewitt||20-12||Jarrett Jack, B.J. Elder, Will Bynum, Luke Schenscher and Isma'll Muhammad|
|Michigan State||2005-06||4th||Tom Izzo||22-12||Maurice Ager, Paul Davis, Shannon Brown and Drew Neitzel|
|Louisiana State||2006-07||5th||John Brady||17-15||Glen Davis, Tasmin Mitchell, Terry Martin, Garrett Temple and Darnell Lazare|
|Texas||2009-10||3rd||Rick Barnes||24-10||Damion James, Avery Bradley, Dexter Pittman, J'Covan Brown, Gary Johnson and Dogus Balbay|
|Kansas State||2010-11||3rd||Frank Martin||23-11||Jacob Pullen, Rodney McGruder, Curtis Kelly and Jamar Samuels|
|Michigan State||2010-11||2nd||Tom Izzo||19-15||Kalin Lucas, Draymond Green, Durrell Summers, Delvon Roe and Keith Appling|
|Connecticut||2011-12||4th||Jim Calhoun||20-14||Andre Drummond, Jeremy Lamb, Ryan Boatright, Alex Oriakhi, Shabazz Napier, Roscoe Smith, Tony Olander|
Has there ever been a coach in an elite "Power 6" league with a consistent track record for dramatic player development anywhere close to matching Wisconsin's Bo Ryan? In the next couple of years, Jared Berggren (1.1 ppg in 2009-10), Mike Bruesewitz (1.1 ppg in 2009-10) and/or Ben Brust (0.7 ppg in 2010-11) could join the following chronological list of Badgers who became All-Big Ten Conference selections under Ryan after averaging fewer than four points per game as a freshman:
Why didn't ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla say anything more incisive after Renardo Sidney, Mississippi State's ticking time bomb, committed a "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader" technical foul in the late stages of the Bulldogs' pre-conference loss at Baylor? Fraschilla's window-dressing whitewashing insulted the intelligence of viewers who certainly possess IQs a mite higher than the troubled MSU frontcourter. Perhaps Fraschilla doesn't boast the cojones credentials to do so although it should be an area of expertise for the former coach who reportedly dropped his pants during a locker-room spiel suggesting his St. John's players didn't measure up in the manhood department.
Meanwhile, commentator Len Elmore and his partner, clamoring for substantial facts, couldn't believe rumblings about Seth Greenberg's job status with Virginia Tech amid the Hokies getting hammered at home by Duke. Well, Greenberg deserves plaudits for defeating a nationally top-ranked team from the ACC three times in the previous five years - North Carolina in 2006-07, Wake Forest in 2008-09 and Duke in 2010-11. But here are some "facts" why Greenberg, who failed to recruit the son (Davidson All-American Stephen Curry) of VT's only NCAA consensus All-American (Dell Curry), is among the following alphabetical list of the 10 most overrated coaches from the top six leagues:
Seth Greenberg, Virginia Tech - Posted only one NCAA playoff victory and one undisputed regular-season conference championship in his first 22 years. Only five winning league records in 15 campaigns with South Florida and the Hokies.
Do you agree with CollegeHoopedia.com on where Fraschilla, Elmore and other "Mouths That Can Bore" rank among the nation's color commentators?
NCAA Division I newbie North Dakota, relinquishing its most notable characteristic, began a rebranding process after shedding the school's Fighting Sioux nickname. The initiative stemmed from the state Board of Higher Education yielding to the NCAA's meddling progressive policy police following a six-year battle over the nickname and logo allegedly being hostile to American Indians.
Lo and behold, the school chose to respect the state's referendum process and resumed using the nickname in mid-season after an intense debate spurred supporters to file petitions demanding a statewide vote on the issue. By season's end, the heavyhanded NCAA responded by saying the school risked forfeiting postseason games if it failed to "take measures to minimize or eliminate the presence of the imagery."
Previous schools failing to show as much spunk as North Dakota and making politically-correct decisions by switching their supposedly demeaning and highly-insensitive nicknames were Arkansas State (changed from Indians to Red Wolves), Colgate (Red Raiders to Raiders), Eastern Michigan (Hurons to Eagles), Louisiana-Monroe (Indians to Warhawks), Marquette (Warriors to Golden Eagles), Miami of Ohio (Redskins to RedHawks), Oklahoma City (Chiefs to Stars), Quinnipiac (Braves to Bobcats), St. John's (Redmen to Red Storm), Seattle (Chieftains to Redhawks), Siena (Indians to Saints) and Southeast Missouri State (Indians to Redhawks).
For those insensitive louts nonpulsed by this holier-than-thou victimization obsession, are they to feel shame at the extent of the alleged discrimination? Rather than bow to pressure, many traditional observers hope the following "Last of the Mohegans" remain steadfast and retain their time-honored monikers: Alcorn State (Braves), Bradley (Braves), Central Michigan (Chippewas), Florida State (Seminoles), Illinois (Fighting Illini), Utah (Utes) and William & Mary (Tribe).
If not, left-wing zealots from PETA (unless they are card-carrying members of the parallel universe People for Eating Tasty Animals) and the Bird Lovers International crowd could possibly be next, feeling empowered to capitalize on this catalyst for constructive social change by making it a heartless foul to have any nickname referencing a precious animal or fowl. What was the cumulative cost for nickname changes and how many mental midgets did it take at the NCAA to concoct this colossal caricature intervention? No wonder it's so easy to ridicule the governing body with a name-calling barrage. In the aftermath of authentic turmoil at Miami (FL), Ohio State, Penn State, Southern California and Syracuse, many think there are more significant issues in intercollegiate athletics requiring correction from the NCAA rather than giving a selective outrage forum to pious pinheads manufacturing a mascot/nickname problem that really didn't exist at any meaningful degree.
Maryland named its court after Gary Williams, the school's all-time winningest coach who guided the Terrapins to the 2002 NCAA title during a span when he became the only mentor ever to defeat the nation's top-ranked team in four straight seasons (2000-01 through 2003-04). Surprisingly, Williams never was courted as national coach of the year by one of the major awards, joining other NCAA championship coaches such as Denny Crum, Joe B. Hall, Don Haskins, Rollie Massimino and Jim Valvano with this dubious distinction.
It doesn't seem possible, but active coaches Billy Donovan (Florida) and Bo Ryan (Wisconsin) never have been named national COY by a major award. Here is an alphabetical list of high-profile retired coaches who never received one of the five major national coach of the year awards since 1955 despite their significant achievements:
Dave Bliss - Compiled a total of 14 20-win seasons with three different schools.
Dale Brown - Led LSU to 15 consecutive postseason tournaments (1979 through 1993) en route to becoming the second-winningest coach in SEC history at the time (behind Adolph Rupp) in both overall and SEC games.
Denny Crum - Won 15 regular-season conference championships in the Missouri Valley and Metro in his first 23 seasons with Louisville; only coach to twice win conference and NCAA tournaments in the same year (1980 and 1986).
Don DeVoe - Compiled a total of 12 20-win seasons with three different schools.
Don Donoher - One of first 10 coaches to take his first three teams to the NCAA playoffs guided his first seven Dayton clubs to national postseason competition; posted double digits in victories all 25 seasons.
Lefty Driesell - One of only three different coaches to guide four different schools to the NCAA playoffs; captured conference tournament titles in four different leagues; only coach to win more than 100 games for four different schools en route to total of 786 victories; had 14 final Top 20 rankings.
Jack Gardner - Only coach to direct two different schools to the Final Four at least twice apiece.
Pete Gillen - Remarkable run with Xavier (winning five Midwestern Collegiate Conference Tournament titles in six-year span from 1986 through 1991) before posting 20-win seasons with Providence in the Big East and Virginia in the ACC.
Don Haskins - Captured four Western Athletic Conference Tournament championships with Texas-El Paso in a seven-year span from 1984 through 1990 while winning more than 20 games each of those seasons; compiled a total of 17 20-win campaigns.
Harry Litwack - Finished third with Temple in three consecutive national postseason tournaments (1956 and 1958 in NCAA and 1957 in NIT). Posted only one losing record in 21 seasons with the Owls through 1973.
Rollie Massimino - Averaged more than 20 victories annually in the 1980s; participated in 14 consecutive national postseason tournaments with Villanova and UNLV before coaching at small-school level in Florida.
Joe Mullaney - Reached the 20-win plateau nine straight seasons from 1958-59 through 1966-67, directing Providence to the NIT semifinals four times in the first five years of that stretch; won more than two-thirds of his games with the Friars decided by fewer than five points.
Tom Penders - Won at least 20 games with three different schools (Rhode Island, Texas and George Washington) a total of 10 times in a 13-year span from 1987 through 1999 before winning more than 20 games three times in six seasons with Houston.
Fred Schaus - Won Southern Conference Tournament championships each of his six seasons with West Virginia from 1955 through 1960 before posting winning records in Big Ten competition all six years with Purdue.
Billy Tubbs - Directed Oklahoma to 12 consecutive 20-win seasons, a Big Eight Conference best; took the Sooners to national postseason play his last 13 years with them before moving on to TCU and Lamar.
Kansas forward Thomas Robinson showed incredible fortitude last season dealing with the deaths of his grandparents and mother in less than a month during the 2010-11 campaign. If he keeps on improving at such a dramatic pace when he reaches the professional level, he could join the following "Magnificient 7" list of All-Americans who posted career scoring averages more than five points per game higher over more than 10 NBA seasons than they did in multiple college campaigns:
Player, School (College Average/NBA Averaqe/Scoring Increase)
Contentment can be elusive. There was more "green" in the newer contracts, but the grass isn't always greener when coaches departed their old stomping grounds for the brighter lights at other Division I schools. Just ask the following mentors for whom things don't look so bright this season:
The nation's NCAA Division I conferences have been in a frenetic restructuring stage. It might sound hostile, but Catholic institutions missed an ample opportunity to assertively advance their "birth-control" cause amid the chaotic quest for megaleagues by "birthing" their own alliance.
Catholics crossing the Obama Administration recently over birth-control coverage is nothing new. Several years ago, a Cardinal from Boston said the Democratic Party has been persistently hostile to opponents of abortion rights, asserting that the support of many Catholics for Democratic candidates "borders on scandal."
But also bordering on scandal were cardinal-faced coaches such as Notre Dame's Mike Brey and Louisville's Rick Pitino persistently trying in such a feeble fashion to abort the defections of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia from the Big East Conference to other prominent leagues in the near future. Excluding Syracuse and West Virginia, the other 14 current Big East members probably won't boast an All-American this season. And embarrassing non-conference defeats at home or on a neutral court show the league is a far cry from its strength last year when it boasted 11 NCAA playoff participants - Cincinnati (lost to Presbyterian and Marshall), Connecticut (UCF), DePaul (Milwaukee), Pittsburgh (Wagner), Providence (Northern Iowa), St. John's (Northeastern), Seton Hall (Northwestern), South Florida (Old Dominion and Penn State), Villanova (Santa Clara) and West Virginia (Kent State). Villanova, only three years removed from a Final Four appearance, might have been by season's end the worst team among the six major universities in Philadelphia (Big 5 plus Drexel). Meanwhile, Notre Dame was mauled against Missouri by 29 points in Kansas City when the Irish still had its best player (subsequently injured Tim Abromaitis).
Brey should have been a candle-carrying visionary praying at Notre Dame's Grotto for divine revelation regarding Catholics democratically strategizing together. Why didn't the Irish spearhead an illuminating alignment with other Catholic-based universities and create what immediately would have been one of the premier basketball conferences in the country? The formation of "The Tradition" could have featured a 16-team tradition-rich league with East and West Dioceses--Creighton, Dayton, DePaul, Detroit, Marquette, Notre Dame, Saint Louis and Xavier in the West; Georgetown, Holy Cross, La Salle, Providence, St. John's, Saint Joseph's, Seton Hall and Villanova in the East.
Lighting the way, the Catholic Conference could have been depicted as the last bastion of ethics and morality promoting a doctrine/philosophy where basketball is king for all of the athletic programs sans Notre Dame. Their non-league scheduling could have focused on being charitable on a regular rotating basis to like-minded Canisius, Fairfield, Fordham, Gonzaga, Incarnate Word, Iona, Loyola of Chicago, Loyola (Md.), Loyola Marymount, St. Bonaventure, St. Francis (N.Y.), St. Francis (Pa.), Saint Mary's, Saint Peter's, San Francisco, Santa Clara, Seattle and Siena.
Rather than worshipping at the almighty-dollar altar akin to the majority of their secular brethren, the Jesuit schools could have shown them how to live (morality) by exercising some basic beliefs (the faith itself) exhibiting ethical and more rigid academic standards.
At the risk of facing excommunication for being too flippant, the commissioner could have been loosely designated as pope, the league home office could have been referred to as the Vatican, coaches could have been called priests, referees could have been regaled as bishops, arenas could have been dubbed as cathedrals, the loop's bylaws could have been portrayed as their creed while game and press conference scheduling could have been the loop's liturgical calendar.
An average of nearly 50 Division I schools annually made head coaching changes since the mid-1990s. The dominoes normally start to fall during postseason conference tournaments. Following is an alphabetical list of active coaches who probably are looking over their shoulders:
Jesse Agel, Brown - Fourth time in as many seasons failing to reach a dozen victories.
Frankie Allen, Maryland-Eastern Shore - Fourth time in as many seasons with more than 20 defeats.
Bobby Braswell, Cal State Northridge - Third consecutive season with at least 18 defeats.
Matt Brown, Missouri-Kansas City - Averaged 20 defeats annually over five seasons with the Kangaroos.
Charlie Coles, Miami (Ohio) - School's all-time winningest coach faces third consecutive season with at least 17 defeats.
Doug Davalos, Texas State - Incurred at least 16 defeats all six seasons.
Matt Doherty, Southern Methodist--Sustained at least 15 defeats all six seasons.
John Dunne, St. Peter's - Averaged 20 defeats annually over six seasons.
Jerry Eaves, North Carolina A&T - Averaged 20 defeats annually over nine seasons.
Lennox Forrester, SIU-Edwardsville - Averaged 20 defeats annually over last four seasons.
Don Friday, St. Francis (Pa.) - Incurred at least 19 defeats all four seasons.
Mike Gillian, Longwood - Only one winning record in nine seasons.
Bill Grier, San Diego - Averaged 20 defeats annually over last three seasons.
Bill Herrion, New Hampshire - Sixth losing record in as many seasons.
Darrin Horn, South Carolina - Third consecutive season with at least 16 defeats.
Jason James, Tennessee-Martin - More than 20 defeats in each of first three seasons.
Brian Katz, Cal State Sacramento - Could be bound for fourth 20-loss season in as many years.
Chris Lowery, Southern Illinois - Fourth straight losing record in MVC competition.
Mark Macon, Binghamton - Averaged more than 20 defeats annually over first three seasons.
Ryan Marks, Texas-Pan American - More than 20 defeats each of first three seasons with the Broncs.
Chuck Martin, Marist - Averaged more than 20 defeats annually over four seasons.
Mike Miller, Eastern Illinois - Lost at least 18 games in six of seven seasons.
Randy Monroe, Maryland-Baltimore County - Appears bound to lose a minimum of 25 games for the third consecutive campaign.
George Nessman, San Jose State - Averaged 20 defeats annually over seven seasons.
Joe O'Brien, Idaho State - Averaged almost 20 defeats annually over six seasons.
Tom Parrotta, Canisius - Sixth non-winning record in as many seasons.
Randy Peele, Winthrop - Third losing record in last four seasons with perrenial Big South Conference power.
Mark Phelps, Drake - Fourth losing record in MVC competition in as many seasons.
Isiah Thomas, Florida International - Bound for at least 19 defeats for third time in as many seasons.
Jimmy Tillette, Samford - School's all-time winningest coach bound for sixth straight non-winning record.
Greg Vetrone, Fairleigh Dickinson - Third season with more than 20 defeats in as many years.
Bobby Washington, Grambling State - Third season with more than 20 defeats in as many years.
Ernie Zeigler, Central Michigan - No winning record in first six seasons.
Naturally, parental pride doesn't necessarily need to stem from athletics. Your child didn't have to be the best, but he had to do his level best.
Still, life goes on. How can a mom and dad express appreciation for all of the memories shared together?
Adding sports as a factor makes the lessons-learned equation more complex. Culminating at Senior Night, it takes a significant amount of resilience to endure withdrawal from all of the devotion and emotion, last-second shots, coping with occasional shooting slump, chance to dance in postseason competition, title dream dashed in close contest, team awards banquet, etc., etc., etc.
Who would have thought the first time he picked up a ball that he would make such a difference and stand so tall? The parent is fortunate to still have a pulse.
It's easy enough to substitute girl for boy in the following poem portraying a parent trying to come to terms with an impending spread-their-wings departure; whether it be from high school to college or from college to the "real world." These reflections might be therapeutic if you went through a similar range of emotions amid whatever success your own flesh and blood enjoyed along the way.
Lord, there's a little thing I need to know
Where in the world did my little boy go?
Packed and ready to depart might seem totally wrong
But it's a calling taking him where he does belong
Perplexed from time to time but one thing I know today
I'm a proud parent beyond words; what more can I say
Kids go through stages but not with this sort of speed
It was only yesterday he was unable to read
Wasn't it just months ago he went from crawl to walk
Hard-headed as a mule; certainly knew how to balk
Took one day at a time raising him the very best we could
Now inspires those around him just like we believed he would
High achiever turning a corner in his life
He has got what it takes to cope with any strife
Boasts a unique eye for talent except his own
Doesn't realize range of skills he has honed
Can't carry a tune but set school shooting star records
Now, the game-of-life clock dwindles from minutes to seconds
So angels above please watch over him daily
Although some of his antics may drive you crazy
He represents everything that I value the most
For that very reason, I'm offering a toast
If he feels sorry for himself and is about to give up
Do not hesitate to give him a gentle kick in the rump
Remembering what I did wrong but at least a couple things right
Always said you could do it; just try with all your might
I just yearn to see all of his grandest plans come true
God, it's my turn to have a great commission for You
Be with him, bless him and give him nothing but success
Aid his climb up that mountain; settle for nothing less
Although I know it is not a sin; don't let him dwell on what may have been
If things press heavy on his mind; minister with words that are kind
After he knows everything for sure, give him an exciting adventure
Comfort him if he is lonely; remind him he's a one and only
Feeling down and kind of blue; show again how dreams come true
When burdened by a bruised heart; present him a brand new start
If he is spinning his wheels; send one who knows how it feels
Embrace him when he is down; turn each bad day all around
When life doesn't seem fair; urge him to kneel in prayer
Guide his steps in the dark and rain; pick up the pieces and ease any pain
Time to share our best with the remainder of the world
It is much like having a family flag unfurled
How can a once young son make a grown man cry
Groping for right words trying to say goodbye
To me, he'll always be a pure and spotless lamb
Cradled in our arms or holding his little hand
If I was Elton John, I'd tell everyone this is "Your Poem"
Simply sing how wonderful life was with you in our home
My soul swells with pride at any mention of you
How long gone are you going to be; wish I knew
Sure don't believe it is at all out of line
To seek to rebound for you just one more time
Although you're going to be many miles away
I will see you in my heart each and every day
So go down that windy path; don't you dare look back
You've found faith; it will keep you on the right track
He's headed for real world and all it offers
But first, here are your final marching orders
Always do the very best you possibly can
Refuse to lose even when you don't understand
There's no telling the goals you will be able to reach
By giving proper respect to instructors who teach
Aspire each and every day you wake
Not to waste a single breath you take
Might as well let all of your ability show
Because those gifts turn to dust whenever you "go"
Don't bury your talents in the ground
Lend helping hand to those you're around
Be ready for the next big thing and the excitement it will bring
If and when all might seem lost; take a quick trip to the cross
Don't ignore your way home by road or by a phone
To get a smile from a frown; dance and let your hair hang down
A truly happy ending can't come from just pretending
I'll never forget the times when you were all you could be
Rose to the occasion and sent playoff game to OT
Cherish all the moments - the hugs and tears
For all your passion play through these years
My little guy is bound far beyond a Final Four
Poised for more success; prosperity at his door
All things are possible; he has found out
How much I love him is what I'm thinking about
If you stumble, put one foot in front of the other
When in doubt, think of your mom, your sister, your brother
Wherever you go, you'll be best from beginning to end
To that most truthful statement, I say Amen and Amen
After you have gone, I'll stroll into your off-limits room
Try to keep my composure when it seems like doom and gloom
But then I'll think of all you are; your smiling face - God's shining star
Gazing at an old picture; touching it soft and tender
You will always be on my mind; but nothing like that wrenching time
When I ask the Lord a big thing I need to know
Where in His big world will His maturing man go?
Big things can come in small packages. What diminutive dandy Erving Walker (5-8) may lack in height, he compensates for with heart. Florida's floor general brims with self-confidence and mental toughness, which at least partially explains why he defied the odds to excel in a big man's game the past four years.
The nation's premier little big man is the principal reason why the Gators are the only credible SEC team capable of keeping up with colossal Kentucky this season. That's one of the reasons he ranks among the top players in NCAA history 5-8 or shorter.
With the recent passing of celebrated singer Whitney Houston, trivia buffs should know she had a mighty mite brother, Mike Houston (5-8), who averaged 5.3 ppg for Fairleigh Dickinson in 1981-82 and 1982-83 after attending a J.C. in Kansas.
South Florida, the beneficiary of a favorable first-half schedule in Big East Conference competition, was enjoying its best season since joining the league in 2005-06. But a seasoned observer, sizing up the remaining Big East slate, would dare anyone to bet on the Bulls reaching the NCAA playoffs for the first time in 20 years.
If they do, senior Augustus Gilchrist will need to finally live up to the billing accorded him when he joined them with Terrelle Woody, an aide/personal trainer at the private Maryland prep school where home schooler Gilchrist played as a high school senior.
NCAA legislation has slowed the "strings attached" element whereby standout high school players are reunited with prep connections at the collegiate level.
Rather than tolerating the groveling by defending champion Connecticut for concessions stemming from its scholastic shortcomings, the NCAA should possibly consider the alternative and make allowances for quality teams boasting textbook student-athletes such as Harvard and Northwestern.
UConn, barred from the 2013 tourney due to years of sub-par academic results, requested a waiver. The Huskies' plea-for-mercy proposal reduced the number of regular-season games they will play next season from 27 to 23, forfeited the revenue awarded to the Big East Conference for participating in the playoffs and prohibited coach Jim Calhoun from meeting off-campus with prospective recruits during the fall 2012 contact period.
UConn's bottom 10 academic ranking among the 300-plus DI schools had it creatively trying to swap games and money for academic integrity prior to the school hiring a new athletic director. Meanwhile, Harvard (ranked #1 this year in U.S. News College Compass among the nation's best colleges) and Northwestern (#12) were excelling on and off the court.
Harvard, which has supplied more U.S. presidents (seven) than Lincredible NBA players (three), should have received an at-large bid last season despite losing an Ivy League playoff game in the waning moments. This year, the Crimson is a cinch to secure its first NCAA berth in 66 years, going to Lin-finity and beyond. In non-conference competition, Harvard and Princeton defeated Florida State, which is challenging for ACC supremacy after beating North Carolina and Duke.
Northwestern, struggling to secure its first winning record in Big Ten Conference competition in 44 years, is in a more precarious situation than Harvard as the Wildcats aspired to participate in the NCAA playoffs for the first time. But Northwestern might have a shot for an at-large berth if it reaches the 20-win plateau for the third straight season.
While UConn struggled to appear in this year's tourney, let alone 2013, school president Susan Herbst lauded the "great strides in our academic approach over the past few years." We're taking for granted she isn't including suspect signee Nate Miles, who described a cynical and broken system of big-time recruiting. According to Miles, MOP Kemba Walker's original college roommate before he was expelled after a female assault twice received standardized test assistance from a UConn booster.
Amid the Linsanity of the New York Knicks' Jeremy Lin becoming Harvard's first NBA player in 58 years (he scored 30 points in a narrow loss at UConn two seasons ago), it's pretty safe to say anyone comparable to Miles isn't on the rosters for Harvard and Northwestern. Wouldn't it be refreshing to raise the tenor of the debate by being assured the nerds were rewarded instead of wondering what classes UConn's players are steered to these days to raise the program's grade-point average? Surely, the NCAA realizes that the average fan makes a point of appreciating colorful institutions with traditional classroom excellence more than those still trying to get their mercenaries to color within the lines.
At least one juco jewel needed to shine bright if Kansas' string of seven straight regular-season Big 12 Conference championships was going to come to an end. Joining KU in the national Top 10 polls most of this season were two teams counting on junior college recruits to help knock the Jayhawks off their lofty perch--Baylor (point guard Pierre Jackson from Southern Idaho) and Missouri (center Ricardo Ratliffe from Central Florida CC and guard Matt Pressey from Navarro, TX). Jackson, not more highly-acclaimed Perry Jones III, is the Bears' go-to player at crunch time. Ratliffe has a chance to set an NCAA single-season record for field-goal percentage.
Jackson and Pressey needed to help keep Kansas' turnover-prone Tyshawn Taylor from continuing to offset his suspect ballhandling by being KU's leading scorer. Pressey's brother, Flip, triggering Mizzou's lethal fast break, has a sterling assist-to-turnover ratio (2.7), a figure significantly better than his KU counterpart.
Despite Taylor's resiliency and increased point production this season, he emerged as one of the most erratic Jayhawks point guards in 30 years since they struggled a couple of campaigns at that position after four-time All-American Darnell Valentine departed. Taylor, whose judgment has always been questionable since suffered a dislocated left thumb in a skirmish with several of the school's football players, has a mediocre career assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.5.
Taylor's ratio doesn't measure up to the competence exhibited by KU playmakers in the last several decades such as Ryan Robertson (2.4), Mark Turgeon (2.4), Aaron Miles (2.3), Jacque Vaughn (2.3), Adonis Jordan (2.2), Cedric Hunter (2.1), Kirk Hinrich (1.8), Jeff Boschee (1.7), Sherron Collins (1.7), Kevin Pritchard (1.7), Steve Woodberry (1.7), Mario Chalmers (1.6) and Rex Walters (1.6).
Oddly, UNLV is the only school to have more J.C. recruits help it reach the Final Four multiple times than Kansas (Terry Brown, Jeff Graves, Darrin Hancock, Alonzo Jamison, David Johanning, John Keller, Bob Kivisto, Archie Marshall, Lincoln Minor, Roger Morningstar and Hal Patterson). At least one former junior college player was named an NCAA All-American in 21 consecutive seasons from 1963-64 through 1983-84.
Basketball simply doesn't have borders any longer. The top two scorers for Horizon League champion Valparaiso this season - Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk - are not North America natives. No school has benefitted more from an influx of foreigners over the years than the Crusaders, who are also getting significant support from New Zealand product Richie Edwards.
Valpo's spanning-the-globe foreign invasion has included: Lubos Barton (Czech Republic), Ali Berdiel (Puerto Rico), Broekhoff (Australia), Antonio Falu (Puerto Rico), Benjamin Fumey (Germany), Joaquim Gomes (Angola), Raitis Grafs (Latvia), Samuel Haanpaa (Finland), Shawn Huff (Finland), Mohamed Kone (France), Calum MacLeod (New Zealand), Moussa Mbaye (Senegal), Roberto Nieves (Puerto Rico), Stalin Ortiz (Colombia), Marko Punda (Croatia), Michael Rogers (Jamaica), Oumar Sylla (Mali), Van Wijk (Netherlands), Antanas Vilcinskas (Lithuania), Zoran Viskovic (Croatia), Hrvoje Vucic (Croatia), Ivan Vujic (Croatia) and Cameron Witt (Australia).
Barton, Berdiel, Gomes, Grafs, Ortiz and Viskovic were all-conference selections in the Mid-Continent Conference before the school switched to the Horizon League. The Crusaders' foreign aid next season will include redshirt center Vashil Fernandez from Jamaica.
Among other squads counting on multiple foreigners in order to enhance their national postseason tournament prospects are:
California - Jorge Gutierrez (Mexico) and Emerson Murray (British Columbia, Canada)
Creighton - Gregory Echenique (Venezuela) and Jahenns Manigal (Ontario, Canada)
Gonzaga - Elias Harris (Germany) and Kevin Pangos (Ontario, Canada)
Miami (FL) - Raphael Akpejiori (Nigeria) and Kenny Kadji (Cameroon)
New Mexico - Cameron Bairstow (Australia) and Hugh Greenwood (Australia)
Rice - Ahmad Ibrahim (Lebanon) and Arsalan Kazemi (Iran)
Saint Louis - Cody Ellis (Australia) and Rob Loe (New Zealand)
Saint Mary's - Matthew Dellavedova (Australia), Jorden Page (Australia), Kyle Rowley (Trinidad), Clint Steindl (Australia) and Mitchell Young (Australia)
Syracuse - Kris Joseph (Quebec, Canada), Bave Moussa Keita (Senegal) and Fab Melo (Brazil)
UNLV - Carlos Lopez (Puerto Rico) and Brice Massamba (Sweden)
Vanderbilt--Festus Ezeli (Nigeria) and Jeffery Taylor (Sweden)
You can work on your geography by assessing the comprehensive list assembled by CollegeHoopedia.com of foreign players impacting college basketball.