Monday, April 30, 2012

NCAA annd NBA Need a New Agreement

The NCAA should not be a minor league for the NBA, but that is exactly what it is.

The present system of forcing players to spend one year in college basketball is bad. The old rule of allowing a high school player to go straight to the NBA should be reinstated. Also, if a player decides to go to college, make him stay at least two years before deciding on the NBA.
Kentucky won the 2012 national championship with several first-year players that later declared for the NBA. People say Kentucky Coach John Calipari is just playing by the rules. I say, change the rules.

Kentucky’ championship was either good or bad for college basketball. If it causes people to analyze this rent-a-player system: great. If it causes other coaches to load up their rosters with one-and-done players: bad.

I have no problem with players taking their talents to the NBA. But I think college basketball should feature students who also want to obtain a college degree. For the most part, players who leave after one season aren’t focusing on getting a degree. They are strictly in college because they are forced to play one year there.

The system is messed up. The NBA probably doesn’t care. The league is receiving players with at least one more year of playing experience with the present rule. The colleges are the ones who should cry foul. Rent-a-player is simply not good for the college game.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

John L. Smith and Arkansas

Longtime football coach John L. Smith was introduced as the one-year interim coach at Arkansas this week. Smith takes over for Bobby Petrino who was fired for integrity issues involving a motorcycle accident and cover-up of a relationship with one of his staff members.
Smith and Petrino have coached together at various places. Smith was on Petrino’s staff at Arkansas until taking the head job at Weber State after the 2011 season.

But here is the rub: Smith never coached one down in his new position. Weber State wasn’t just any job for Smith. The Utah school is his alumni mater.

Yet, even though he made a commitment to Weber State, Smith dropped the football and jumped at the opportunity to return to Arkansas.

Smith can make all the excuses he wants to about the special situation at Arkansas, but he divorced his alumni literally after weeks on the job.

Petrino has integrity issues. Smith has them too. Two wrongs do not make a right. You should feel really bad for Weber State. The school is the definite victim in this weird mess involving Arkansas.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wisconsin Badgers do the Right Thing

The Wisconsin Badgers have officially released Jarod Uthoff from transfer prison.

This story developed when Uthoff wanted to transfer from Wisconsin after sitting out his freshman season as a redshirt. For my international readers, a redshirt can participate in team activities including practices but cannot play in actual games.

Usually a player and coach will say nice things about each other after the transfer decision is announced and the player will go on its merry way. But Uthoff’s case became a national story because Wisconsin coach Bob Ryan and the school put major restrictions on where Uthoff could transfer.

The NCAA allows schools to put restrictions on transfers, but most schools put only a small handful of teams on the list. Often, schools won’t allow a player to attend another conference school or one of their biggest rivals. But Wisconsin first said that Uthoff couldn’t go to the entire ACC, the Big Ten (where the Badgers are a member), Florida, Marquette and Iowa State.

Uthoff cried foul.
The former 2011 Iowa Mr. Basketball wanted at least the opportunity to consider a wide range of schools. Apparently, more than half of Uthoff’s options were on Wisconsin’s no-no list.

Uthoff appealed to Wisconsin officials and after a meeting Thursday, the Badgers will now allow him to transfer to any school but a Big Ten member. There is talk that Uthoff may appeal that ruling too so he can consider a Big Ten school.

Ryan and his program were taking considerable national heat over the restrictive behavior. If Ryan was trying to prove a point, it didn’t work. Apparently, he caved in to the pressure and probably for good reason. If you were a recruit, would you want to go to Wisconsin with the thought that if it wasn’t a good fit and you wanted to transfer that Ryan would put you in prison too?
It’s probably too late for Wisconsin to avoid short-term recruiting damage, but at least Uthoff can consider more flavors rather than just vanilla and chocolate.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bobby Petrino's Situation

The Bobby Petrino story will not go away.

You can still read plenty of stuff about the former Arkansas football coach and his mistress. It continues to be really sad.

I said in my previous blog that Petrino would eventually dust himself off and probably land another job. If Petrino wants another coaching job, he will find one. Some program will hire him for his success on the football field not his lack off it.

But I think Petrino needs to take a hard look into the mirror before he jumps back into coaching. Petrino struggles with integrity and he should give his best effort to repair it.

Obviously, he needs to start with his family. Then he needs to continue with others. Trust is a wonderful thing. Lack of trust is a terrible thing. Petrino is pretty low on the integrity and trust scales these days. But I think it can be repaired with lots of effort.

Petrino should go after integrity and trust the way he prepared for a game against an opponent: hard work, long hours and leaving no stone unturned.

People are watching. Petrino has another choice. Hopefully, he will make a better one this time around.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Missouri Tiger's New Look

Missouri unveiled its new football uniforms over the weekend. The Tigers are headed to the Southeastern Conference and wanted to celebrate the new beginning with a new look.

The new look is contemporary styling of course. Gone is the block “M” on the helmets. A large, mean-looking Tiger is now the showcase of the helmets. The Nike uniforms feature uniforms shirts in gold, white and black. I don’t see a huge difference in the old uniform tops just the more modern look. The pants are pretty standard looking.

Missouri said that recruits are interested in uniform styles. I guess they want to think they are “styling” as the youth say. Does dressing for success include the style of college football uniforms? I hope college kids are smarter to select a school based on more than who has the coolest uniforms.

But in the grand scheme of things, Missouri has more challenges moving to the SEC than looking good in its uniforms. I can think of three easily: Alabama, Auburn and LSU. I don’t care how the Tigers look if they cannot become competitive with a talented SEC.

Missouri wants to keep people from saying it looked good in defeat. That will be a tall order in the SEC.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bobby Petrino's Family

Former Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino made his own bed. He was fired this week for lying about a relationship with a staff member.

He will dust himself off eventually and probably land himself another coaching job somewhere. Or he might just become a long-term insurance salesman. The bottom line is Petrino has character issues.

But the victims in this mess are Petrino’s wife and four children. They are the recipients of a husband and father who betrayed their trust. Trust can be lost in moments and then it can take years to regain it.

There has been plenty of men in sports and all walks of life that have cheated on their wives. Bad choices often result in bad consequences. Unfortunately, Petrino’s wife and children now walk the road.

It’s really sad. This game has no winners, only losers.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Emotional Attachment to College Players

I have made the statement before: I much prefer college basketball to the pro game. I hardly ever watch the NBA even during playoff time.

When college players declare that they are leaving their collegiate days early to declare for the NBA draft, some sadness comes over me. I admit it I want to watch them play three or four years in the college game. If you prefer college basketball, then you develop an emotional attachment of sorts to particular players. Once they are gone, they are gone.

You expect to say goodbye after four years, but these one or two-year departures can be difficult on the college fan. I cannot image how Kentucky backers feel about many of its players going pro after one season. Maybe there is no feeling anymore because the fans are conditioned to it.

With all the challenges in college basketball, I am still na├»ve to believe the college game is purer than the pro one. Kids are still kids in college. When they turn pro early, they are forced to become men. The old saying, “You can always work” is so true. College basketball is still play: pro basketball is work.

So it’s goodbye to players such as Iowa State’s Royce White and Baylor’s Perry Jones III. You were good kids and now you are men. Thanks for the entertainment.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Creighton's Doug McDermott Makes a Name

Quick question: who is one of the most celebrated college players this past season to not declare for the NBA Draft?

If you answered Creighton’s Doug McDermott, then you know your college basketball.

Talk about a guy with rising stock. Who could have predicted that this Ames, Iowa high school player would become a nationally talked about player in just two seasons?

McDermott was a solid high player but played second fiddle to Harrison Barnes. Barnes was the best high school player two years ago and headed to North Carolina. McDermott’s college destination was mid-major Northern Iowa. He was to play for Ben Jacobson a former assistant under his dad, Greg, with the Panthers.

But then there was major change in the McDermott family. Greg McDermott was under pressure as coach at Iowa State. With his shaky position there, Greg probably didn’t want his son, Doug, playing for him with the almost certain possibility of Greg’s firing. But then Creighton rescued the elder McDermott and gave him a 10-year contract.

Doug then asked out of his scholarship commitment to Northern Iowa so he could indeed play for his dad at Creighton. Jacobson graciously allowed the father and son to reunite.

It was a match made in Creighton blue.

Doug McDermott had a solid freshman year and then soared this past season. He averaged 22.9 points per game and grabbed 8.2 rebounds. He was the Missouri Valley Conference Most Valuable Player. He also was selected first-team All-American by both the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Associated Press. He also helped his team to the third round in the NCAA tournament.

Arguably, McDermott has had a better college career than Barnes. Barnes declared for the NBA draft last month so his college career is over.

Funny, how things sometimes work out in life. For Doug McDermott, funny is termed beautiful.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Baylor Earns Perfection

The Baylor Lady Bears completed a perfect season in Denver Tuesday night. It just happened to be the national championship game against Notre Dame.

Baylor dominated women’s basketball this season and it dominated The Fighting Irish too with a convincing 80-61 victory.

The Lady Bears became the first Division I team to amass 40 victories in a season. They joined UCONN and Tennessee as the only other teams in women’s basketball to finish a season undefeated.

As usual, 6-8 center Brittney Griner stole the headlines in the title game. The junior scored 26 points, grabbed 13 rebounds and recorded five blocks.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey has now led her team to two national championships. The other was in 2006.

The bad news for women’s teams is Baylor could be just as potent next season. Griner said this week she would return for her senior year.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kentucky Proves Its Resolve

The Kentucky Wildcats entered the 2012 NCAA tournament with a monkey on their back. Kentucky was not only granted the No. 1 seed overall, but branded the overwhelming favorite.

The Wildcats proved they were up to the challenge when they cut down the basketball net Monday night in New Orleans. Kentucky beat Kansas 67-59 for the school’s first national championship since 1998.

Kentucky dominated every team in the tournament Oh sure, the Wildcats were challenged a bit in the games, but never did you believe Kentucky would loss a particular game. People kept wondering if the Wildcats would fold under the favorite pressure, but they never did. Borrowing a tennis term: game, set, and match.

Sometimes the best team doesn’t win a championship. But this Kentucky team was the best one with the best players. Most games, it was men against boys. The Wildcats’ collection of freshmen and sophomores played like veterans.

Kentucky coach John Calipari finally won a national championship. Whether you love or hate the guy, his philosophy of recruiting the best players whether they play one or two years at Kentucky triumphed this season.

Calapari will probably gladly restock his roster again next season. After last night, we all could see the formula of rent-a-player works.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Overachieving Kansas in the NCAA Final

Seriously, did anyone believe that Kansas had the stuff to play in tonight’s NCAA basketball tournament final?

This was supposedly a rebuilding year for the Jayhawks if a program as storied as Kansas ever has one. But look at them now. Sometimes, things just happen.

Kansas has been close to going home almost in every game of the tournament. The Jayhawks have lived for the comeback especially in the second half. They looked dead against Ohio State in the national semifinal Saturday night, but like a determined prize fighter, the Jayhawks came off the canvas.

Kansas needs to play a complete game against Kentucky tonight or it has no chance. Obviously, if the Jayhawks wait around until the second half, Kentucky will probably bury them.

Kentucky has a bunch of stars. Kansas has a few stars. But the good thing for Kansas is it only plays the Wildcats one game. This isn’t best-out-of-seven. With one game, Kansas has a chance even if it’s a slim one.

Yes, Kansas has Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor. But I think the key player for the Jayhawks is Jeff Withey. The 7-foot center has been outstanding in some games and so-so or non-existent in others. Withey needs a solid game. He must score points besides block shots. He must be a presence under the basket. He needs to control traffic and keep Kentucky from having its way at the rim. When Withey plays well, Kansas usually wins. When he doesn’t play well it struggles.

Kentucky has the most pressure in this game. The Wildcats are definite favorites. The Jayhawks pressure is minimal unless they stumble in the first half. Then the pressure will be fatal.