Monday, August 31, 2009

Pitt Suspends Gilbert Brown For Fall Semester

Yet another starter from a BCS program goes down for the fall semester. The reason for Gilbert Brown's suspension is the ever vague "academic reasons." No matter the reason, this is a big problem for Pitt. Brown may have been overshadowed by the stars from last season's Pitt team, but I expected him to start this coming season. He played in more than 30 games in each of the last two seasons, averaging close to 20 minutes, 6 points and 3 rebounds on 45% shooting.

I sometimes say that players missing much/all of the fall semester are no big deal, or even possibly beneficial to the team (such as in the case of 'Nova's Reggie Redding this season, or Tyler Hansbrough last season). But those cases were teams that I expected to compete for a Final Four. When a team is worried about positioning itself for a Final Four run, they end up being judged most on what they do during their conference regular season, and they just need to be sure to peak at the right time in the season. Pitt, on the other hand, is a bubble team. I've got them as the 7th best team in the Big East, with a 12 seed in my most recent BP65. They really need a big win or two in the fall to go along with a solid Big East record in order to earn a Tournament bid.

If the loss of Gilbert Brown keeps Pitt from having a good out-of-conference resume then they're going to have to win a minimum of 10 games in a weakened Big East to make the 2010 Tournament.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Everybody Misses The Point On Lou Holtz

There's been a lot of buzz on the internet about Lou Holtz's prediction that Notre Dame will play in the BCS Championship Game this season. An example of the video is here (fastforward to around the 1:30 mark). Holtz is getting a ton of attention on the internet for this because it's an example of his epic homer-ism. Notre Dame stinks!... or so people argue. Honestly, I don't care either way: I don't analyze college football games or match-ups on this blog. What I'm amazed at is that the most ridiculous thing that Holtz said in this clip didn't get a single mention on any sports blog I visited:

I've talked many, many, many times about how the Top 25 polls don't rank the 25 best teams. Pollsters follow an arcane formula where teams that win move up and teams that lose move down. Rarely is a thought ever given to whether a team is better or worse than another team. And yet these polls are used as a proxy for team rankings - we rate "upsets" by how high a team was ranked, and we pick favorites and expectations based on these polls. We saw this in college basketball last season when North Carolina spent much of the second half of the year out of the #1 ranking position, despite the fact that absolutely everybody who knew anything about the game knew that they were the best team in the land. I never dropped them from the #1 spot in the BP65 all season because it was obvious to me. I especially enjoyed watching the guys on the ESPN College Gameday say things like "North Carolina is definitely the best team in the nation... but they lost, so they can't be #1".

And so Lou Holtz repeats that here: he even clearly states that he doesn't think Notre Dame is or will be the second best team in the nation. But he argues that they have a horrendously easy schedule and they'll beat all of these bad teams, and so they'll keep moving up the polls each week as they win and teams above them lose, and eventually they'll end up at the #2 spot even though they won't be the second best team in the nation.

Why does this not upset people? Why does nobody notice how silly this is?

The people that we should be upset at are the pollsters: by allowing this to be the case, and by allowing coaches and administrators to understand that this is the case, they encourage easy schedules. Why shouldn't Notre Dame line up a whole bunch of joke opponents when the pollsters will reward them by continuing to move them up in the polls? This is why I've argued for a more computer-based BCS system, to wean college football fans, analysts and pollsters off of the idea that teams should be rewarded for easy schedules. Teams should have to schedule tough teams - and beat them - to prove that they're one of the top two teams in the nation, and not just the two teams that did the best job of beating the flawed system.

Some Quasi-Football Posts Coming

As in years past, I'll have a few posts during the college football season that somewhat relate to college football... and somewhat to college basketball. Generally when issues come up that I like to talk about, I'll talk about them while relating them to both college football and basketball.

Some examples from years past:

Why Appalachian State's win over Michigan wasn't as big of an upset as people thought... and why people often make the same mistakes when analyzing college basketball upsets.

How to rank conferences. Interestingly enough, ranking conferences is extremely difficult and extremely pointless for college football, because of the small sample sizes and the very unbalanced schedules, but nonetheless conference ranking is actually discussed more during college football season than college basketball season. I analyzed how many people misunderstand what ranking a conference means, and how they then misapply their results.

The need for perspective, which is so lacking early in the college football season, and which is also necessary in greater quantities early in the college basketball season.

Settling the Texas/Oklahoma BCS issue from last football season: why so much of the analysis is factually wrong and illogical, and discussing why it is that strength of schedule has become so important in college basketball and yet is still ignored in college football.

I'll be back with a few more posts in the near future. Remember: the college football season starts up in just four days. There are only about 6-7 weeks until Midnight Madness, and only about two months until exhibition games begin.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

FIU's Bizarre Coaches vs Cancer Problem

There's a strange story out about the draw that Florida International got in the Coaches vs Cancer tournament. Apparently they had been expecting to draw Ohio State, and had actually been promoting the game against OSU, but were shocked and upset to draw North Carolina instead. The Athletic Director is actually threatening to pull out of the tournament.

This is bizarre for a few reasons. First of all, this doesn't matter - are there really any fans who are going to be upset that they're going to have to watch North Carolina instead of Ohio State? Are some fans giving back their tickets? And it's not like FIU has a chance to beat either team with the squad they're heading into the 2009-10 season with. Dominique Ferguson is a year away, and even throwing Ferguson onto this year's squad still wouldn't give them any chance to beat either team.

If anything, North Carolina is a better team to play for two reasons. For one, they're more college basketball royalty than Ohio State, and will excite FIU fans more. Heck, they're the defending National Champions. Also, while FIU has no chance of beating either team, there's a big difference between getting blown away and at least keeping things competitive. You want to go into a game like that hoping to grind things out, maybe go into the half only 6-8 points down before finally losing it in the second half. And I think they'll have a much better shot going against a North Carolina team that will be insanely young and inexperienced. My most recent BP65 has North Carolina as a 2 seed and Ohio State as a 3 seed, but teams that are very dependent on freshmen tend to start off the year making silly mistakes and getting off to a slow start before pulling things together later on in the year. I expect North Carolina to be a lot better in March than they'll be in November. If you're going to play North Carolina in 2009-10, their first game of the season is the best time to catch them.

And besides, this will be the formal re-introduction of Isiah Thomas to the basketball floor. Do they really want to start off his career there by reneging on a contract and causing meaningless controversy? As I said here, this season's FIU team is bad - possibly worse than last year's team. If they can find a way to start off the season with a competitive loss to North Carolina, that can be the highlight of the year. They can keep that in everybody's mind as Isiah continues to put together his 2010 recruiting class.

So not only is this controversy stupid, it's not even in FIU's best interest. It just makes no sense any way you look at it.

One Last Calipari Post... I Promise

I just want to have one follow-up to my John Calipari post from last week. As regular readers know, I don't like to get into these off-the-court stories... if you want that stuff you can read Deadspin. But on this issue I feel like my opinion is one that you don't hear anywhere else.

What prompts my follow-up is this article by Dick Vitale. Now, I'm usually a big Vitale fan. Yes, he does overhype the ACC a bit, but he overhypes everybody. I love his energy and passion for the sport. But his one downside is his overhyping, and the fact that he never - ever - criticizes anybody. American sports announcers in general are too afraid to criticize players and coaches, but Vitale is the worst. He would never make a negative comment about John Calipari's personal character, and that's the flaw of his article.

Looking at the Derrick Rose case in a vacuum it's easy to come to Vitale's conclusion that the punishment was too harsh (although as Vitale's ESPN colleague Dana O'Neil points out, it wasn't much of a punishment in any case). I mean, hey, the NCAA said he was eligible! How was Calipari supposed to not trust the NCAA!

Of course, we don't know all the facts yet, and it is certainly suspicious that after failing the SAT miserably three times, Rose passed in his fourth attempt by travelling 300 miles to a city that is home to the most infamous figure in amateur basketball who also happens to be a good friend of Calipari. But even if Calipari was completely innocent in this particular case, I still don't buy Vitale's argument.

As I said in my post last week, the NCAA needs a "for the good of the sport" clause like baseball has. They are so strict with so many obscure rules that it's baffling that they look the other way with regards to obviously dirty coaches like Calipari. Calipari is one of those coaches who knows how to push every boundary just far enough that he'll never get in trouble, but he's just bad for the sport. He constantly brings in kids with questionable academics. He brings in kids with major legal problems and sketchy pasts. He hires coaches and relatives of top recruits to do odd jobs at the university.... He's not the only coach that does this, but he's probably the worst. When a player like Tyreke Evans or Lance Williams comes out of high school, you can always count on the John Calipari type coaches to be the ones in the mix. And even the kids in his program who don't come in with problems.... Calipari isn't the type of coach who cares if his kids are missing class or failing exams. As long as it doesn't affect his won-loss record, he doesn't care. That's not what college sports are supposed to be about.

If a coach with impeccable credentials, like Gary Williams or Bruce Pearl, was involved in a case like this I'd be more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt. They don't get involved in kids like Derrick Rose. John Calipari deals with enough sketchy recruits that eventually one is going to bite him. Basically, he had it coming.

The NCAA should have stepped in, for the good of the kids and the game, before this happened. He shouldn't be able to get away clean from this.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Billy Donovan Grabs Another Guard.... Maybe

Billy Donovan is trying to pick up some of the slack from the loss of Nick Calathes by grabbing Israeli guard Nimrod Tishman. Tishman has enrolled at Florida, and is waiting a decision from the NCAA on eligibility. I don't have any personal knowledge of Tishman, but he was supposedly one of the better players at the European U-18 Championships last year, and he played on Maccabi Tel Aviv's youth team. For those that don't know, Maccabi Tel Aviv is one of the top teams in Europe. They are one of only 13 teams to receive a Euroleague "A" license, which means a free pass to Euroleague (the top league in Europe) for a full three years. The current senior team includes Stephen Lasme and Maciej Lampe, and recent players include Carlos Arroyo, Anthony Parker and Omri Casspi. If Tel Aviv and the Israeli national team view him as a star of the future, then he's probably good enough to contribute in the SEC right away.

Of course, there's no assurance that Tishman will be eligible. The NCAA will investigate whether he ever got paid at Tel Aviv. Most likely he was smart enough not to take money if he had any thoughts about playing in the NCAA, but you never know. This should get settled before any games happen.

I've talked about the SEC quite a bit, most recently here. As everybody knows, Kentucky will enter the season as the SEC favorite. But Tennessee will be close behind, and the Vols will be much more experienced and proven. If Kentucky's freshman class doesn't live up, or can't handle the hype, then I really wouldn't be too surprised to see Tennessee steal the conference title. After that, the next tier is likely Florida and Mississippi State. I also include LSU and Vanderbilt in the discussion as teams that will most likely make the Tournament, and could potentially be an SEC darkhorse. But if Tishman is eligible and turns out as good as Florida fans hope he will be, that could be the difference that makes Florida the clear third best team in the SEC. I still don't see a path to the SEC title, but they could at least make it competitive.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Very Early 2010-11 Preview: Big 12

Kansas: The Jayhawks will almost definitely be the preseason #1 team in the nation for the 2009-10 season, and another good recruiting class is being put together for 2010, but that doesn't imply that Kansas should immediately be a favorite to win the Big 12 in 2011. They will be losing a lot, both to graduation and the NBA Draft. Sherron Collins is arguably the best player on Kansas right now, and he will graduate, as will regular rotation player Mario Little. But the real loss will be to the draft, where Cole Aldrich is expected to be a top ten pick, and Xavier Henry is expected to be a one-and-done player. Not only that, but Tyshawn Taylor might go pro early as well. Assuming all of those players leave, however, the cupboard will not be totally bare in Kansas.

Tyrel Reed and Brady Morningstar will both be back in the backcourt in 2010-11. Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson are good prospects who should also be back. Two other guards that will be back are Conner Teahan and C.J. Henry, although neither is highly rated. In the frontcourt, the key returners will be Marcus and Markieff Morris. Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey are both good prospects that should be back, but that's it at the moment. At the point of this writing, the only oral commitment for 2010 is shooting guard Royce Woolridge (Rivals: 117), but Bill Self is in the mix for most of the top names left in the 2010 class, and you can be sure that he'll grab a few of them. Even if Tyshawn Taylor goes pro, Kansas will still be deep and good at the guard positions. The question mark will be inside, where they will be thin and very dependent on the development of '09-10 true freshman Robinson. They also really need a swing forward. Marcus Morris can potentially play at small forward, but Self could really use a star small forward in his 2010 class. Kansas will still be very talented in 2010-11, but they will only compete for a Big 12 title if they have a really good 2010 recruiting class.

Texas: Like Kansas, Texas seems to lose several key players each season, yet seems to always have an elite recruiting class that keeps them among the best teams in the nation. They had a ton of turnover between the 2008-09 and 2009-10 season, and the pattern will continue in 2010-11. Unlike Kansas, however, Texas has already locked up a couple of top 2010 recruits (both and rate it among the Top 5 classes, at these early stages). But first, let's talk about who they are going to lose. The key losses for Texas will actually be to graduation: Damion James, Dexter Pittman and Justin Mason should all start in 2009-10, and all will graduate. Another potential loss is Avery Bradley, who is rated by many the top recruit in the entire nation for 2009, and could be a one-and-done guy. That said, right now Bradley is projected as a borderline lottery guy for the 2010 NBA Draft, and one can imagine that if he drops any further that he will stick around for another season.

But even if Bradley goes, I still believe that Texas will contend for the 2011 Big 12 title. Starting with the front court, Dogus Balbay was one of the most underrated players in the nation last season - not only should he be a quality starter in 2010-11, he is also really fun to watch play. If Bradley goes pro then the second starting guard will be uncertain, but there are a ton of players to choose from. Varez Ward is a quality prospect, and J'Covan Brown is an even better prospect if he can play (he was actually a 2008 recruit, but failed to qualify academically... I believe he is expected to play in 2009-10, but I'm not positive). Jai Lucas is a quality point guard who has transferred in from Florida. Texas also has a 2010 oral commitment from shooting guard Daniel Bejerano (Scout: 7 SG, Rivals: 57). If Bradley comes back for his sophomore season then Texas will almost definitely have the best backcourt in the Big 12, but they'll be good and deep at the guard position even without him. Things aren't quite as certain in the frontcourt, but Texas is still deep with several good prospects. The one certainty in the frontcourt for 2010-11 is Gary Johnson. After that there are several decent prospects who didn't play much in 2008-09 but are expected to become quality players in the future: Clint Champman, Alex Wangmene and Matt Hill. All four of the aforementioned players can play power forward or center, but neither would make a good small forward. No fear, however, as 2009-10 freshmen Jordan Hamilton and Shawn Williams are both swing men. Whichever of those two players has a better '09-'10 season will likely start at small forward in 2010-11. Texas will also potentially have a freshman starting in the front court in '10-'11 with Tristan Thompson (Scout: 1 PF, Rivals: 17). Even if Texas doesn't sign another 2010 player they will contend for the 2011 Big 12 Championship, but another big recruit or two could potentially make them a Final Four contender.

Texas A&M: The Aggies got good news when Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis elected to come back for the 2009-10 season, but both will be seniors and will graduate in 2010. They will also lose a third starter to graduation: Derrick Roland. Texas A&M has a good coach in Mark Turgeon, but can they compete near the top of the Big 12 in 2010-11 after losing three starters? It's possible, but the disparity in talent makes it unlikely. B.J. Holmes and Dash Harris will compete for starting backcourt jobs, but neither has played all too well thus far in their collegiate careers. 2009-10 freshman Naji Hibbert is a quality prospect, but not a sure thing. Jeremy Adams will also potentially get a lot of minutes in 2010-11. The 2010 recruiting class doesn't yet have any guards. The front court situation is a bit better for A&M, but they're still not remotely in the class of Texas/Kansas in terms of talent. David Loubeau does look like a very good young player, and Nathan Walkup played fairly well in 2008-09, but after that the Aggies just have a bunch of decent prospects that haven't yet proven anything at the collegiate level: Khris Middleton, Kourtney Roberson and Ray Turner. Expect Turgeon to look early to his 2010 recruiting class, which has two good frontcourt oral commits already: Tobi Oyedeji (Scout: 16 PF, Rivals: 82) and Daniel Alexander (Scout: 17 PF, Rivals: 89).

Oklahoma: The Sooners were very happy to get Willie Warren back for his sophomore season, but it's extremely unlikely that he'll come back for his junior season. Fellow backcourt starter Tony Crocker will also be gone after 2009-10 to graduation, as will Ryan Wright. The one sure player left in the backcourt for 2010-11 will be Cade Davis. Ray Willis should be in the rotation, but the other starting guard will likely be either Tommy Mason-Griffin or Steven Pledger. Amazingly, the frontcourt situation is actually worse, with 2009-10 freshman Keith Gallon the only elite talent, although at 6'8", 300 pounds, he's probably got to shed a little bit of weight before he can play 30 minutes a game in the Big 12. Other key front court returners will be Orlando Allen, Andrew Fitzgerald and Kyle Harrick. Honestly, it's hard to see how Oklahoma is going to have the talent to hang with the top teams in the Big 12 in 2010-11 unless they bring in an elite 2010 recruiting class. They're in the hunt for several of the big names, but thus far they have none committed.

Missouri: Mike Anderson has had a ton of success at Missouri these last couple of years, but he's going to need to start winning with a whole new group of unknowns, because the core of his 2007-08-09 teams will be completely gone by 2010-11. J.T. Tiller, Zaire Taylor and Keith Ramsey will be the key players from the 2009-10 team that will graduate in 2010. In the backcourt, Anderson will have three key guards from his 2009-10 team that will return: Marcus Denmon, Kim English and Miguel Paul. Michael Dixon will be a freshman shooting guard in 2009-10 who likely will not be a huge presence as a freshman, but has the potential to be an important player in 2010-11. The best front court returners will be Justin Safford and Laurence Bowers, with Steve Moore potentially being a rotation player as well. The 2010 class doesn't yet have any oral commits, although one possibility is power forward Keith Dewitt, a 2009 recruit who failed to quality academically, and who for the time being is saying that he'd still like to come to Missouri if he can qualify this coming season. Missouri is not going to have any of the big time future-NBA stars that Texas and Kansas will have in 2010-11, but Mike Anderson has never had those guys and yet has constantly found ways to win. It's hard to project what kind of team they'll be in 2010-11 until we see how a lot of these young guys develop in 2009-10. It will also depend on which high schoolers eventually get signed for the 2010 class.

Oklahoma State: 2009-10 is a rebuilding season for Oklahoma State, but they should be much better in 2010-11. Obi Muonelo is the one key player who will graduate, and all of the young players getting all of the playing time in 2009-10 will just be one year older and more experienced. The one question mark is leading scorer James Anderson, who is a potential first round draft pick in 2010 should he decide to go. In the backcourt, Keiton Page will likely be the best returner (assuming Anderson goes pro), along with Ray Penn. Other quality returners will include Nick Sidorakis and Fred Gulley. In the frontcourt, Marshall Moses will likely be the starting small forward, and will be joined by Roger Franklin (who is listed as a small forward, but might be moved to shooting guard), Karron Johnson, Torrin Walker and Teeng Akol. The 2010 class does not yet include any blue chippers, but even without any new stars one has to expect that Oklahoma State will be better with so many good young prospects. The only way they'll compete for one of the top two or three spots in the Big 12 will be if James Anderson returns and they can sign a big time recruit or two, but even without that they do seem likely to get back to the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas State: The Wildcats will lose two starters to graduation in 2010: Denis Clemente and Luis Colon. Clemente is the tougher loss, of course, but Kansas State will still have Jacob Pullen as a starter, as well as several other quality backcourt returners. Nick Russell and Devon Peterson will provide depth. The one 2010 commitment right now is a point guard, Will Spradling, who will likely back up Pullen. Right now it's unclear who will start at shooting guard, and Frank Martin is probably hoping to find one in his 2010 class. Dominique Sutton can play shooting guard, although Martin might prefer to have him start as a small forward with his size. Jamar Samuels is another key returner, who is athletic enough to play the three but is best at power forward. Wally Judge will be another good frontcourt returner. Kansas State will likely have a better starting lineup than a majority of Big 12 teams in 2010-11, but they're thin because of a string of transfers out. They are definitely a potential Tournament team in 2011, but they're going to need a couple more 2010 recruits for me to feel good about projecting them there.

Baylor: The Baylor Bears have been rapidly improving as a program under Scott Drew and I expect to see them contending near the top of the Big 12 in 2010-11. They do lose two key players to graduation in Tweety Carter and Josh Lomers, but neither of those players is irreplaceable. Both Nolan Dennis and LaceDarius Dunn will be very good returners at the guard position, although neither is a point guard. Depending on the development of A.J. Walton as a freshman in 2009-10, he could potentially start at point guard in 2010-11, or else Baylor can just go with Dennis and Dunn. It's not like a lot of other teams have true point guards anyway. Mark McLaughlin will provide depth at the shooting guard position. Baylor will have two excellent options at the small forward position in Quincy Acy and Givon Crump. Fred Ellis is also an option. On the inside, Ekpe Udoh will almost definitely start in 2010-11, where he can play power forward or center. Cory Jefferson will also be a key returner on the inside. Another potential starter is 2010 recruit Perry Jones (Scout: 4 C, Rivals: 6). A starting lineup of Dennis, Dunn, Crump, Udoh and Jones would be one of the best in the conference. Throw in Acy, Walton, McLaughlin and Jefferson and that's a really good nine man rotation. Don't be too surprised to see Baylor actually contend for one of the top two or three spots in the Big 12 in 2010-11.

Nebraska: Ryan Anderson, Sek Henry and Chris Balham will be key graduation losses for Nebraska in 2010. Throw in a few transfers out and the Cornhuskers will be fairly thin in 2010-11. The two best returners will be point guard Brandon Richardson and shooting guard/small forward Toney McCray. Shooting guards Eshaunte Jones and Adrien Coleman should also be key returners. Due to transfers out, though, the frontcourt cupboard is almost entirely bare in Lincoln. Returners will be Quincy Hankins-Cole, Brandon Ubel, Brian Diaz, Christian Niemann and Christian Standhardingen. Nebraska will be especially dependent on Niemann and Standhardingen, who both come from Germany, and will have to pick up the slack for a series of weak recruiting classes in terms of US high school-based big men. Doc Sadler often goes with a three-guard lineup, so that's a real possibility in 2010-11 if the young big men don't pan out. But however the lineup is organized, it's going to take a few good 2010 recruits for Nebraska to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament.

Colorado: Dwight Thorne graduates from the starting lineup after the 2009-10 season, but he will be the only key loss for Jeff Bzdelik's gradually improving Colorado program. Backcourt starters Nate Tomlinson and Cory Higgins will be back, with Tomlinson most likely starting at the point, with Higgins most likely starting at shooting guard. Levi Knutson, Javon Coney, Andrew Zehnder, Alec Burks and Shannon Sharpe also return as guards. None of those players are projected to be stars, but with so many possibilites you have to figure that at least one or two of them will develop into quality players. Colorado is also very deep in the frontcourt, with starting power forward Austin Dufault returning. Other key returners will be Casey Crawford and Trey Eckloff. Toby Veale also might be a key bench player in 2010-11. Right now there are no 2010 commits yet. Colorado is slowly improving under Bzdelik, and they will be very deep with a large rotation in 2010-11, but they still lack the kind of elite talent that will allow them to compete with the top teams in the conference. They're going to need to bring in a blue chipper or two if they're going to make a plausible run at the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

Texas Tech: Pat Knight is on the hot seat because he has been unable to bring top talent to Texas Tech, and I don't see why the talent gap is going to narrow in 2010-11. The Red Raiders also lose key players Nick Okorie, Darko Cohadarevic and Trevor Cook to graduation. In the backcourt, the key returner will be point guard John Roberson. Other backcourt returners will be David Tairu, Mike Davis and Jaye Crockett, none of whom are highly rated prospects. Things aren't much better in the frontcourt where D'Walyn Roberts, Robert Lewandowski and Corbin Ray will be key returners. Roberts and Ray are both small forwards, although Roberts is better suited to playing at power forward than Ray. Lewandowski is a power forward. Brad Reese and Theron Jenkins will also be small forward returners. Right now there are no players signed for 2010, and it's going to take several good 2010 recruits or a couple of good players transferring in for Texas Tech to have any chance at postseason basketball in 2011.

Iowa State: The Cyclones lose only Jamie Vanderbeken and Marquis Gilstrap to graduation from the starting rotation, but the real worry is Craig Brackins, who is expected by most to go pro and be a late lottery pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. If Brackins leaves then Iowa State becomes very thin in the frontcourt in 2010-11, with only center Justin Hamilton as a real quality returner. Laron Dendy and L.A. Pomlee will be the other frontcout returners. Things are better in the backcourt, with Diante Garrett and Lucca Staiger both good returners, along with Charles Boozer, Dominique Buckley and Chris Colvin. Colvin will only be a freshman in 2009-10, but he is one of the highest rated point guards to come through Ames in recent memory, and will potentially be starting at the point from day one. If Greg McDermott can bring back Brackins for one more season, and can pull together a decent 2010 recruiting class, Iowa State can potentially make a run at the 2011 NCAA Tournament. But most likely Brackins does leave, and Iowa State will then probably finish in the bottom half of the conference.

Elliot Williams Cleared To Play In 2009-10

Elliot Williams is cleared to play this coming season, assuming you believe, where they somehow managed to misspell his name (it's "Elliot", not "Elliott"). I know that I occasionally make goofs like that, but a big money operation like Fox Sports should have editors...

Anyway, I spoke about the '09-'10 chances for Memphis in this post a couple of months ago, when Williams first declared his intent to transfer there. As I said then, the signing of Williams makes Memphis a legitimate contender for the Top 25. They are also now clearly the favorite in Conference USA. There won't be another BP65 for close to two months, and things might change between now and then, but right now I'd place Memphis somewhere around a 7-9 seed in the 2010 Tournament.

That said, even with the Williams signing, Memphis is going to be very thin. By my count they've got nine scholarship players that will be enrolled when the fall begins. Tulsa was a borderline bubble team last season, and should be even better this season, so one or two injuries could knock Memphis right out of the top spot in Conference USA. The margin is just much thinner than it was when John Calipari was around.

This season will be very important for the future of Memphis recruiting: they've got to prove that they can continue to be a national contender out of a mediocre conference without the recruiting prowess of Calipari.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Memphis Vacates Final Four

I'm sure everybody reading this is well aware that Memphis has had their 2007-08 season records revoked, including their Championship appearance. They've also been placed on probation for three seasons, and all of this is because Derrick Rose had an ineligible SAT score.

In general when these schools get in trouble there are two lines of thought that spread through the sports world: the coaches shouldn't be able to get away free, and the schools/teams shouldn't be punished for what another coach did in the past. In this case I'd say that's half true.

The fact is that Memphis couldn't have gotten away much lighter than they did. At all levels and in all sports, the rule is always that wins cannot count if you have an ineligible athlete. Even if Memphis was completely innocent in all of this and had no idea that Rose was ineligible, he was still ineligible. The wins can't count - there's no debate.

Memphis fans can argue that they shouldn't have gotten any probation because any wrongdoing was by people no longer at the school, but probation isn't a big punishment. And besides, I don't think Memphis is entirely innocent here. Memphis fans and the Memphis athletic department chose to be willfully ignorant. They knew John Calipari's reputation. They knew that they were bringing in kids with questionable academics and amateur status. They knew that they were bringing in kids with legal problems. It's hard to find another school that took the phrase "student-athlete" less seriously than Memphis did when John Calipari was there.

Memphis fans wanted to win, and Calipari brought them wins. As soon as he jumped ship, suddenly he was evil and a traitor. Suddenly Memphis fans convinced themselves that Calipari was actually holding them back - that they were going to be better with Calipari gone. They were suddenly shocked - shocked - to find out that shady things had been going on while Calipari was in town.

But Memphis is not unique. Just look at Kentucky's constant support and defense of their man. Calipari walks on water for them, because he will bring wins. And when Calipari takes Kentucky to the Final Four and then runs away to another school, Kentucky fans will sound just like Memphis fans do now.

Now one place that I do agree with the conventional thinking is with regards to coaches. I think it's a huge problem in the NCAA that coaches rarely ever are forced to take responsibility for their actions. They skip town and get away.

I'm not saying that I'm buying into the conspiracy theories about Worldwide Wes - and if those theories are proven true then Calipari will indeed get a real punishment and this will all be moot. But even if Calipari wasn't directly involved in the Derrick Rose academic fraud, the NCAA should still step in and punish him. Sometimes the NCAA forgets what college sports are supposed to be about. John Calipari is not what college sports are supposed to be about. The NCAA should step in and punish coaches for not living up to their responsibilities. If a coach does this or this, the NCAA should step in and take action for the good of the students, and the good of college sports. The same way that the Commissioner of Major League Baseball can invoke the "best interest of the game", so should the NCAA.

How many John Calipari Final Fours need to be revoked before the NCAA steps in and punishes him?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

2009-10 Gameday Sites

AwfulAnnouncing has the 2009-10 ESPN College Gameday sites here. Most of the games should be fairly good, although I don't think anybody is surprised that the one team getting on the list twice is Duke.

I do generally enjoy when Gameday goes to an odd location, like an Ivy League game - because it mixes things up and allows casual fans to learn a bit about what goes on in smaller conferences - but opening up at the site of a women's game is stupid. That's the one week I don't get, especially since it's the first week of the show and you figure that you don't want to turn off new fans by hitting them first with a game that they're not going to care about.

It's going to be the same team of guys as last season, which means that you're going to get to claw your eyes out when Hubert Davis or Digger Phelps give analysis (I'll give you three guesses on which team Phelps will pick to take that women's game), but you'll also get to have Bob Knight (who is great) and Jay Bilas (who is hit-or-miss, but occasionally very good).

In the end, I always enjoy waking up on Saturdays to College Gameday, both for college football and college basketball. It always gets me psyched up for the games. And at least here in the Midwest it's on early enough in the morning that you don't wake up and stare at the clock counting down the minutes until there's something good to watch. And since I figure a lot of you guys feel the same way, I thought you'd care to see the schedule as well.

Monday, August 17, 2009

ESPN's ShootArounds Begin

ESPN's college basketball "ShootAround" series is usually a good place to go for early season previews. They just went online with their first one today: the ACC. They rest of the conferences will go up over the next few weeks, and should all be accessible from that first link.

ESPN is not any better at predicting the conference standings than any number of other college basketball websites, but they do a good job of highlighting players and games to look out for.

Another reason to look at ESPN's previews is that it gives you a good idea of what stories they'll be hyping as we head into the 2009-10 season. Like it or not, the fact is that ESPN sets the sports story lines in this country. Everybody else hypes whatever ESPN hypes. When ESPN is running 24/7 coverage of Tebow-gate (the fact that some apostate caused Tebow to not be a unanimous first-team All-SEC quarterback for 2009), you can be pretty confident that you're going to be getting a healthy dose of Tim Tebow puff pieces from September through January. So looking at who gets the attention of ESPN's writers in August and September will give you a good idea of who will be getting a lot of air time as we head into the winter.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Kammeon Holsey Out For The Year

Georgia Tech incoming freshman Kammeon Holsey is set for season-ending knee surgery to repair an ACL injury suffered about two weeks ago. Holsey is an athletic forward who can play both the 3 and 4 positions on the floor, and is rated the 63rd overall recruit in the '09 class by ESPN, 82nd by, and the 30th best power forward by

As long as Holsey can be fully recovered for 20-11, I don't think this is a huge problem for the Yellow Jackets, but it's still a problem. Georgia Tech will still be very good on the inside, with Gani Lawal and Zachery Peacock both back, along with superfrosh Derrick Favors (arguably the top recruit in the nation). Those are three excellent interior players - but after that it gets a bit thin. Daniel Miller can play the 4 or 5 positions, but I wouldn't expect to see too much of him as a freshman. If Holsey played he most likely would have started at small forward, but now the only legitimate small forward on the roster is D'Andre Bell, and he's got to be a huge question mark after missing all of last season with a spinal injury.

D'Andre Bell will play, but if he's not totally healthy and back to his 2007-08 form then expect Georgia Tech to play a lot of three-guard lineups. They can get away with that with the three excellent big men that they've got, but it stretches the team so that they become fairly thin. The ACC schedule is grinding, and a team that wears down is more likely to lose a lot of close games, as the Yellow Jackets did last season (Sagarin's ELO_CHESS rated them 113th last season while the PREDICTOR had them 93rd, and Pomeroy gave them a luck rating of 340th in the nation).

I have rated Georgia Tech as 5th in the ACC for the upcoming season, with a 5 seed in the 2010 Tournament - calling them a "dark horse" for the conference title. This injury doesn't dramatically change that - I still think they're 5th in the ACC, and they're an outside contender for the conference title - but it's going to make things tougher. They are now going to be really dependent on the full recovery of D'Andre Bell, and the quick development of Daniel Miller.

Reggie Redding To Miss Games

Reggie Redding's legal problems have now led to a suspension: he will be ineligible in Villanova games during the fall semester. Of course, on its face this isn't really a big problem for Villanova for a number of reasons. First of all, many people misinterpret these types of semester suspensions to mean that the player can't play until classes start up in the spring semester. In fact, Redding will not have to miss any practices, and will be eligible to play in games starting on December 18th.

Villanova's full schedule doesn't seem to be entirely set right now, but they will play a few good opponents before December 18th. They'll be at the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, but they'll be solid favorites even without Redding (full field and bracket here). They are scheduled for a home game against Maryland on December 6th, and a road game at Temple on December 13th. I don't see any other scheduled games that I'd qualify as "tough". Somebody let me know if I'm missing a big match-up, but otherwise it seems as if Villanova should be heavily favored in every game they play before December 18th.

Besides, even a bad loss or two in November and December isn't a big deal. The Selection Committee wants to see what you do later in the year more than what you do in the first two months. Villanova is still a pretty solid favorite in the Big East, in my opinion at least. And sometimes small injuries like these can help teams by getting the younger guys some playing time early in the season so that they'll be in a better position to contribute late in the season.

The only worry for Villanova is the possibility of this suspension being extended. Right now nobody is talking about it, but you never know if things will change or if Redding will get himself in trouble again. But if Reggie Redding does return before the end of December, I don't see how this has any real effect on Villanova's Big East chances.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Official: Andre Dawkins Will Play This Year

It seemed very likely that Andre Dawkins would play for Duke in 2009-10 when I wrote about it nearly a month ago, but now it's official. As I said in my afore-linked post, I think this is tremendous news for a Duke program that was going to be dreadfully thin at the guard position. I don't think it makes Duke good enough to win the ACC, but they are now looking at something like a 4-6 seed in March, avoiding the possibility of actually becoming a bubble team for the first time since (arguably) 1996.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Isiah Thomas Lands His First Top Recruit

We all knew that Isiah Thomas was going to land a big recruit or two to get his tenure going, and he's now got his first true blue chipper: Dominique Ferguson. The 6'9" athletic forward, who can play both the 3 and 4 spots on the floor (and honestly could probably be a dominating center in the Sun Belt as well), is rated 8th in the 2010 recruiting class by ESPN, 16th by and 23rd by

This coming season will be an interesting season for FIU because it will be a media circus, yet at the same time I don't expect to see much on the floor. In fact, the team will probably be worse than last year's team that went 7-11 in the Sun Belt with an RPI of 217th and a Sagarin rating of 247th. Thomas was unable to add any good recruits for his 2009 class (despite nearly nabbing a couple, such as Lance Stephenson), and a couple of kids bailed because of the coaching change.

While Isiah Thomas was a bad NBA coach, I think he gets too much blame because the disaster that was the New York Knicks was really due to the fact that they had the worst General Manager in the history of the NBA (unfortunately that, too, was Isiah Thomas). He won't be one of the better coaches in the Sun Belt, but he should hang in there. Unless he can find some Juco to add at the last moment, however, it's hard to see FIU finishing above .500 in the Sun Belt next season. But if he can pull in some more of those blue chippers then it won't matter what kind of game coach Thomas is: he'll win a lot of games in the Sun Belt.

But now the 2010-11 FIU team suddenly becomes a contender in the Sun Belt, and if they can add another big recruit or two then they might even become the favorites. We'll have to see how many more recruits Thomas can sign before he proves whether he can actually win games. If nothing else, it will all be interesting.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Most Of The Fall Tournaments Are Set

ESPN has a good page with the list of all of the early season tournaments and the current teams for those tournaments. It is, as they call it, a "working list", since many of the fields are not set. But that just means that you should go and check the page every couple of weeks to see which interesting match-ups there will be. I'll obviously talk more about these tournaments as the fields become set and as we get closer to the actual games. By my count we've got 96 days until Coaches vs Cancer opens up the season (on November 9th).

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Very Early 2010-11 Preview: Big Ten

Purdue: Matt Painter re-established Purdue as a contender with that surprise 20-win season in 2006-07. That season was powered by Painter's first full recruiting class, led by Keaton Grant and Chris Kramer. Painter has followed that up three more good recruiting classes, and the team has continued to improve, but after 2009-10 he will finally start losing his leaders to graduation - Grant and Kramer obviously being the first two. The most pleasant surprise for Purdue in 2008-09 was the emergence of JaJuan Johnson as one of the elite big men in the nation. He might enter the 2010 NBA Draft, but if he does not then he'll be back for his senior season in 2010-11. Robbie Hummel will also be a senior in 2010-11, and will again be one of the best players in the conference if he can stay healthy. The third front court position is up for grabs at this point, and will probably come from the 2009 recruiting class: D.J. Byrd, Patrick Bade, Kelsey Barlow or Sandi Marcus. Donnie Hale and Travis Carroll are both highly rated 6'8"+ recruits for 2010.

Even without Kramer and Grant, the Purdue back court should still be pretty good. E'Twaun Moore should be back as the starting shooting guard, and Lewis Jackson should start at the point. Those two will be excellent, but after that there are a lot of question marks, although Ryne Smith will likely be the best returning guard off the bench in 2010. Smith doesn't strike me as somebody who will ever be an elite Big Ten guard, which means that the 2010-11 season for Purdue will probably rely heavily on the 2010 recruiting class, which already has two excellent guards in it: Terone Johnson (Scout: 20 PG, Rivals: 95) and Anthony Johnson (Scout: 23 SG, Rivals: 88). As long as Hummel and JaJuan Johnson are healthy and playing, Purdue will have one of the best front courts in the Big Ten in 2010-11. But if they're going to win the Big Ten, it's going to be because they get some big contributions from those freshmen guards.

Minnesota: The key 2010 graduation for Minnesota will be Lawrence Westbrook, although Devron Bostick will be another graduation from the regular rotation. That said, Tubby Smith has been playing with a huge rotation at Minnesota, sometimes going with an 11 or 12 man rotation for some games. Westbrook's scoring, athleticism and clutch play will be tough to replace, but Minnesota is not going to be one of those teams struggling to put together an 8 or 9 man rotation. In the front court, the key returners for 2010 should be Ralph Sampson III, Paul Carter and Colton Iverson, as well as 2009-10 freshmen Royce White and Rodney Williams. The back court will be led by point guard Al Nolen, as well as shooting guards Blake Hoffarber and Devoe Joseph. The 2010 recruiting class doesn't have any oral commits yet, but Tubby is working on a number of four- and five-star recruits, so I'm sure he'll pick up a couple of good ones before all is said and done. Minnesota will have a lot of depth in 2010-11, and should be fairly safe for the Tournament, but I question whether they have a clear leader or athletic scorer that they can rely on in the clutch. You can easily get a decent seed in the NCAA Tournament without a star, but it's tough to win the Big Ten.

Ohio State: We don't know at this point all of the players that Ohio State will lose from their 2009-10 team, but it will be a bunch. David Lighty and P.J. Hill graduate, as will Jeremie Simmons and Kyle Madsen. But those players won't matter as much as Evan Turner and William Buford, both of whom might go pro early. Turner should be a lottery pick in 2010, so he will probably go, but Buford will be a much bigger question mark. If Buford does leave then Ohio State will again be depending heavily on Thad Matta's highly rated recruiting classes, because the only two returners that we know at this point will definitely be quality players will be Dallas Lauderdale and Jon Diebler. Lauderdale has the potential to be one of the best post players in the Big Ten, and while Diebler is never going to be a star he is a quality scorer who will hit his shots if you leave him open. Walter Offutt is a shooting guard with some potential, but we'll have to see how he plays in 2009-10 before we consider him a key returner for 2010-11. After that? It's all going to be that 2010 recruiting class, which might end up being the top in the country. Matta already has five oral commits who are all highly rated, but the class is led by Jared Sullinger (Scout: 1 C, Rivals: 3) and DeShaun Thomas (Scout: 2 PF, Rivals: 17). Thad Matta has proven that he can win when depending heavily on freshmen, but it's going to require another Thad Five for Ohio State to contend for a Big Ten title in 2010-11.

Michigan State: The Spartans will only lose one rotation player to graduation in 2010, but it's a key loss: Raymar Morgan. A bigger concern, however, will likely be Kalin Lucas, and whether he returns for his senior season. Lucas is by far the best point guard in the Big Ten, and getting him back would immediately make Michigan State a leading contender for the Big Ten title. That said, Michigan State will still have a pretty good back court even if Lucas goes, because Korie Lucious has established himself as a worthy heir to the point guard position, and Chris Allen and Durrell Summers will also be key returners at the guard position. On the inside, Delvon Roe and Draymond Green will be quality starters, with Derrick Nix and Garrick Sherman haivng plenty of potential as well. Tom Izzo will probably be relying on freshmen in 2010 more than he usually does, especially if Lucas goes pro. The 2010 recruiting class is currently led by shooting guard Keith Appling and swing forward Russell Byrd, who are both Top 100 recruits, but neither seem like they'll be stars as freshmen. If Lucas does leave then Michigan State will be somewhat thin and dependent on that 2010 class. The way that class develops will be the key to Michigan State's 2010-11 season.

Wisconsin: The Badgers will lose only two players from their 2009-10 team, but those two players will be their starting back court: Trevon Hughes and Jason Bohannon. Hughes is the best player on the 2009-10 team, and Bohannon is the best shooter. But that all said, don't expect Wisconsin to go anywhere. They have been grooming Jordan Taylor to take over the point guard position, and he looks like he'll be a good one. Rob Wilson and Diamond Taylor will also be key back court returners. The back court will actually be in really good shape if they can recover Vander Blue, the stellar 2010 point guard who decommitted from Wisconsin just a few weeks ago. Without Blue or another recruit, the 2010-11 Wisconsin back court will be thin but decent. Small forward Tim Jarmusz will be able to play some shooting guard as well, although he'll probably stay at the 3-spot if Wisconsin can get another guard. The other two starters inside will presumably be Keaton Nankivil and Jon Leuer, who are both excellent scorers but will need to play better defense and become better rebounders for Wisconsin to compete for another Big Ten title. Two other inside players with the potential to be good in 2010-11 are Mike Bruesewitz and Ian Markolf. They also have a good 2010 recruit in 6'11" Evan Anderson, although freshmen tend not to get a lot of playing time in Bo Ryan's system. At this point the 2010-11 Wisconsin team feels like a bubble team, although obviously that could change if the 2010 recruiting class improves.

Michigan: DeShawn Sims is the key graduation, and Zach Gibson is an important graduation as well, but Michigan's 2010-11 season will be most affected by Manny Harris, and whether he returns for his senior season. Right now he seems like an unlikely first round pick, and I'd think that he'd return if he wasn't assured of a lottery pick, but that status can change. Even if Harris goes pro, Michigan should still be deep at the guard position in 2010-11. They don't necessarily have a true point guard, but Kelvin Grady and Laval Lucas-Perry can both play the position and are both quality guards. Stu Douglas and Zach Novak will both also be quality back court returners. Among the 2009-10 freshmen, Matt Vogrich is the highest rated guard, although he's unlikely to be a key player right away. The 2010 recruiting class currently includes Tim Hardaway, Jr. who, unfortunately for Michigan fans, isn't quite the recruit that his father was. The problem for Michigan is in the front court, where they will have very little left for 2010-11. 7-footer Ben Cronin has some potential, as do 2009-10 freshmen Jordan Morgan and Blake McLimans, although none of them are real blue chippers. The 2010 recruiting class currently contains power forward Evan Smotrycz, who has the potential to be a big contributor as a freshman. Still, it's hard to see how Michigan won't have problems with the physical front courts that are so common around the Big Ten. And this is why even if Manny Harris returns I think it will be an uphill climb to the 2011 Tournament unless Michigan can collect another big recruit or two for their 2010 class.

Illinois: For several years now, the sterotype of the Bruce Weber has been that he can coach a good game but he can't pull in the big recruits. But at least the latter part of that seems to be changing with an elite 2009 recruiting class, and a 2010 class that is shaping up to potentially be even better ( puts their 2009 class 13th best in the nation, and their 2010 class 3rd). It's hard to see how the team won't be very improved from the 2009-10 team that looks likely to be merely a bubble team. The only graduations from the 2009-10 rotation will be Dominique Keller, and it's unlikely that Demetri McCamey will jump into the 2010 Draft. Alex Legion will join McCamey in the 2010-11 back court, as will the three excellent shooting guards from Weber's 2009 class (D.J. Richardson, Brandon Paul and Joseph Bertrand). Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale will likely start in the front court in 2010-11. Bill Cole and Stan Simpson have the potential to provide depth, although both are unproven. So does 2009-10 freshman power forward Tyler Griffey. The 2010 Illinois class already has a few blue chip recruits, but the most important is probably swing forward Jereme Richmond (Scout: 2 SF, Rivals: 22), because he fills a position that isn't currently filled. McCamey, Legion, Richmond, Davis and Tisdale would make up one of the top three or four starting lineups in the Big Ten, and Illinois will also have plenty of depth. I'm not sure if they'll have enough experience to seriously contend for the 2011 Big Ten title, but they have to be considered a possible contender at this early juncture.

Northwestern: The Wildcats have been steadily improving these last few years, but it's really hard to see this team not take a pretty big step backwards in 2010-11. Kevin Coble and Jeremy Nash both graduate, and they're two of the three best players on the 2009-10 team. Jeff Ryan also graduates. Those losses make Northwestern extremely thin at the guard position. Michael Thompson is very good, and he'll be a quality point guard, but other than that there are no other obvious returners. The best potential for another starting guard in 2010-11 might actually be 2009-10 freshman Drew Crawford. Things won't be as bad on the inside, as John Shurna, Kyle Rowley and Luke Mirkovic will be a decent starting front court. They're a bit on the slow side, but Northwestern has never won with athleticism. Ivan Peljusic, Mike Capocci and Davide Curletti all have the potential to be decent rotation players also. Regardless, I'd say that the 2010 Northwestern recruiting class will simply be determining whether they'll take a small step back in 2010-11, or a large one.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are down a bit in 2009-10, but they should be much improved in 2010-11, with absolutely everybody from the 2009-10 team expected to be back. There could be a chance of Talor Battle entering the 2010 NBA Draft, but at this point that seems pretty unlikely. It's unsure at this point who will start in the back court alongside Battle in 2010-11, although it will likely be whoever can establish the starting position in 2009-10. Cammeron Woodyard and Chris Babb both have some potential, as does point guard Tim Frazier, from the 2009 class. Key front court returners will be David Jackson, Andrew Jones III and Jeff Brooks. The one player already orally committed to the 2010 class is Taran Buie, a quality shooting guard who should be ready to contribute as a freshman. Penn State might not make the Tournament in 2011, but they should be improved over the year before.

Indiana: It's a bit hard to project Indiana's 2010-11 season because it will be so dependent on the young players that Tom Crean has been bringing in. Devan Dumes is the one key player from the 2009-10 team who will graduate. Key returners from the 2008-09 team will be guards Verdell Jones III and Matt Roth, as well as forward Tom Pritchard. Those four players are decent, but the only way Indiana will have any shot at the 2011 Tournament will be if they get big performances from their 2009 and 2010 classes. The 2010 class doesn't have any real blue chippers yet, but the 2009 class is chock full of them (a class rated in the Top Ten in the nation by almost everybody). There are too many good prospects to list here, but the three most likely to contribute immediately are guards Jordan Hulls and Maurice Creek, and forward Christian Watford. The back court will probably be decent by 2010-11, but I think Crean is going to need to focus on some elite front court recruits for his 2010 class if he's going to have a real shot at making the 2011 Tournament.

Iowa: Hawkeyes fans have grown increasingly frustrated, and for good reason. As the rest of the Big Ten seems to be improving, Iowa seems stuck in the basement and with little hope for the future. Players have been transferring out, and top recruits have been tough to come by. Todd Lickliter might not still be coach in 2010-11, and obviously things will change if the coach changes. Still, it's hard to see any coach making this team remotely competitive in the Big Ten by 2010-11. Devan Bawinkel is the only graduation, and while he's a starter he is not irreplaceable, meaning that Iowa should at least be a little bit better than they are in 2009-10. Shooting guard Matt Gatens will likely be the best returner for the 2010-11 team, and he will be joined in the back court by Anthony Tucker and Cully Payne. The best front court returner will be Jarryd Cole or Aaron Fuller. Andrew Brommer will also be a front court returner, along with Brendan Cougill. The 2010 recruiting class is decent, but not very good. Iowa should be slightly better in 2010-11, but something is going to have to change for Iowa to get remotely close to a postseason appearance any time soon.

NCAA Tournament In August

Looking for something to put on television on a lazy Saturday afternoon in August? Well the CBS College Sports Network (the former CSTV) is replaying a whole bunch of games from the 2009 Tournament. As I type this I just flipped it on to watch the final five minutes of Tennessee/Oklahoma State. The remainder of the evening schedule is Wisconsin/FSU, Gonzaga/WKU and Siena/OSU, three of the best games from the first weekend (the complete schedule is here).

I don't think that even I could sit through six straight hours of sporting events where I know the results, but if you don't think I'm turning back to CBS College Sports (if possible) for the end of all of these games you're nuts.

I'll be working on the 2010/11 Big Ten early preview this afternoon, and hopefully will have it up and posted by the end of today. I am busy all day tomorrow and will have no time to work on the site, and I leave for vacation Friday morning, so today is the day to do some work on the site. Hopefully watching some of these games will help keep me motivated.