Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Morning News: Oregon Situation, LSU Loses Three, Ryan Anderson Transfer, Kareem Canty, And More

Once again I'm piling up a week's worth of news into one Morning News post. Hey, it's the offseason...

Dominic Artis, Damyeon Dotson And Brandon Austin All Officially Done At Oregon This seemed inevitable, and now it's official. I talked about this story last week. Really, the only question left is figuring out what happened here. Oregon is claiming that while they knew about the sexual assault prior to the Pac-12 tournament, they were told by police not to move to suspend the players (huh?). The other confusing part of Oregon's story is their claim that they didn't know about Brandon Austin's previous sexual assault at Providence (nobody bothered to ask him why he'd been kicked off the team prior to offering him a scholarship?). The whole thing is a mess.

LSU To Lose Anthony Hickey, Two Others Three players are leaving LSU via transfer, including starting point guard Anthony Hickey. With a roster already due not to return much of its starting rotation, this might be the death blow to whatever at-large hopes they had. Johnny Jones is only heading into his third season, so it would be silly to give up on him already, but there isn't a lot of positive momentum with the LSU program.

Arizona Lands Boston College's Ryan Anderson Ryan Anderson was Boston College's best big man this past season, and the 6'9" transfer has decided that he's heading to Arizona. He'll have to sit out next season, but he likely wouldn't have gotten much playing time behind Rondae-Hollis Jefferson, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski anyway. He only has one year of eligibility left, but expect him to be a key piece for Arizona in 2015-16.

South Florida Lands Kareem Canty Marshall's primary playmaker and best player from this past season is the first big signing for new South Florida coach Orlando Antigua. He'll likely have to sit out next season, but he'll have three years of eligibility left, and will be a cornerstone to build around.

Brian Williams Transfers To Louisiana-Lafayette After losing Elfrid Payton to the NBA Draft, Louisiana-Lafayette was desperately in need of another perimeter player to stay the favorite in the Sun Belt. Brian Williams isn't the level of offensive playmaker that Payton was and he only has one year of eligibility left, but he has a level of athleticism not often seen in the Sun Belt, and he'll be a key piece next season. Still, right now I'm leaning toward moving Georgia State into the spot of preseason favorite, particularly if Louisville transfer Kevin Ware is eligible to play right away.

Seth Allen To Virginia Tech Buzz Williams has his first non-Marquette transfer at Virginia Tech, and it's Seth Allen, from Maryland. He won't be eligible next season, but Virginia Tech isn't going anywhere next season anyway. Buzz's top priority is putting together talent to try to compete for a postseason appearance in 2015-16, and Allen could be the starting point guard on that team.

Jamal Jones Leaves Texas A&M The Aggies were due to return nearly their entire roster from last season, with a chance to make a run at an at-large bid. But the offseason is off to a bad start, as leading-scorer Jamal Jones will transfer out. I'm not sure this is a huge problem, though, as Jones was more of a volume-scorer than a particularly efficient basketball player. But the Aggies need to find some scoring this summer to go Dancing next season.

Ronnie Johnson Transfers To Houston We knew Kelvin Sampson would upgrade the talent level at Houston. After signing Juco transfer Torian Graham  he now adds Ronnie Johnson, who had been Purdue's starting point guard. Johnson will have to sit out next season, and Sampson is going to need a lot more than him to get the Cougars competitive again, but there's definitely some positive momentum for the program.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Morning News: Oregon Suspensions, Craig Robinson Fired, Myles Turner, And Much More

Craig Robinson celebrating his semifinal win in the 2009 CBI. Oregon State's CBI title that season was the highlight of Robinson's tenure in Corvallis.
It's been almost a week since my last Morning News post, so let's catch up on the news of the last few days:

Oregon Loses Dominic Artis, Perhaps More This story just broke late last night, so I might have to come back to it another Morning News post later this summer. But it looks very bad for Oregon in multiple ways. Artis has been accused of rape, along with Damyeon Dotson and Brandon Austin. All three have been suspended indefinitely, and Artis has already announced his transfer. If the story is true and can be proven in court, all three will be looking at jail time... although we all know how this tends to go with star athletes, unfortunately. But even if the three avoid jail time, I doubt we'll see any of these three guys suit up for Oregon next season.

The fact that this was reported to police even before the Pac-12 tournament tips off means that Dana Altman is going to have to answer some hard questions about why these players were not suspended during the season. Stay tuned.

Oregon State Fires Craig Robinson Robinson was fired yesterday, which is the only part that makes it a bit odd. Many people, including myself, thought Robinson would be fired after six seasons of zero positive program momentum and with a likely terrible team next season. But instead, the school gave him a vote of confidence... and then fired him a month later when it's much harder to find a new coach. Perhaps it took them this long to find a booster willing to pay his buyout.

There's an argument to be made that Robinson did a good job... namely that it's incredibly hard to win at Oregon State. In fact, his winning percentage (.469) was the best by any Oregon State coach since Ralph Miller, who was also the last Oregon State coach to have consistent success of any kind. Oregon State's last NCAA Tournament trip was in 1990, the year after Miller retired. That team was led by Gary Payton, who was a senior. Grasp how long ago that was. But still, there was no sense that Robinson was going to get this team to the NCAA Tournament at any time in the foreseeable future. So the next coach could easily be worse than Robinson... but maybe they swing and hit a home run hire. We'll have to see who they get.

Nick Faust Transferring To Oregon State Or... maybe he isn't. This news broke a few days ago, which means that we now have to see if Faust is going to stick it out with the new coach. Faust would be one of the best players on Oregon State (his one season of eligibility will come in 2015-16) if he does stay.

Texas Lands Myles Turner Turner was the last significant 2014 recruit who had yet to sign, so the big 7-footer is a coup for Rick Barnes. That said, this is the type of move that isn't going to pay off as much next season as the media is making it out. There's always this misperception that if a team has a quality X and adds player with a quality Y that the new team will be (X+Y) good. It doesn't work that way.

Texas was a team that already had a physically dominant front line. They led the Big 12 in offensive rebounding percentage but were dead last in 3P% and second to last in eFG%. Turner's minutes will just eat into the minutes of Cameron Ridley, Connor Lammert and Prince Ibeh, none of whom can play outside the paint. And even Johnathan Holmes can't really play with two other bigs, even though he can hit jump shots from the perimeter. Texas still is in need of significantly improved backcourt play to win a Big 12 title. Isaiah Taylor is a great prospect, but they need more than just him.

Southern Miss Hires Doc Sadler With Donnie Tyndall taking the Tennessee job, this seems like a reasonable hire for Southern Miss. It's easy to see Sadler as a failure at Nebraska considering what Tim Miles has accomplished, but I don't think that's quite fair. Miles is one of the best coaches in college basketball and he also benefited in a big way from the move to the Big Ten, a new arena, and a significant increase in the basketball budget. Sadler should be a solid hire for Southern Miss.

Big Ten/Big East Announce Series Of Games The Big Ten and Big East have announced an annual series of eight games each year. So not every team will play every season, but the more quality games the better. It's always good to have a sport, unlike college football, that rewards tough schedules. It means more entertainment during non-conference play.

Naadir Tharpe Transferring Tharpe was the starting Kansas point guard this past season, but there was a reasonable chance that he was going to be replaced next season, which might be the primary motivation for this transfer. Frank Mason could take over the point next season, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Kansas go without a true point guard in a guy like Conner Frankamp. Despite this loss, I still think Kansas has to be the preseason Big 12 favorite. I wouldn't be surprised if the media goes with Texas, but see my comments above on Myles Turner for why I believe Texas will be overrated.

Desmond Simmons To Saint Mary's The Gaels needed an influx of talent to challenge Gonzaga and BYU atop the WCC, and Simmons joins Aaron Bright as a key pair of transfers. Simmons isn't much of a scorer, but he's an awfully athletic 6'7" and he should give St. Mary's a lot of rebounding if nothing else. The WCC is going to be very strong next season, and I had St. Mary's only 5th in my 2014-15 previews, but these two signings will potentially get them right back onto the Tournament bubble.

Maryland Loses Seth Allen The Terps are now up to four transfers this offseason, and this is the most worrying of the bunch. Mark Turgeon had oversigned, and three players had to transfer originally, but there was no reason for Allen to go. Also, Allen was the team's starting point guard as a sophomore and has a bright future at the position. With Roddy Peters one of the other transfers, the Terps don't return a single scholarship point guard from this past season. Maryland was looking like a Top 25 team, but they're treading closer and closer to looking like a bubble team.