Pearl's punishments may not be over yet


Apparently everyone cheats in college hoops. Some intentionally push or break the rules. Others make honest mistakes because of the monstrous rulebook.

This wasn’t one of them.

Bruce Pearl’s admission that he gave misleading and incorrect information to the NCAA during a 17-month investigation of the Tennessee men’s basketball program marks a sad moment for a coach who once was a college hoops whistleblower and paid the price for it.

Should people be surprised Pearl – one of the game’s best recruiters – went too far in going after players? No. What’s surprising is that he had a chance to ease any potential fallout and didn’t.

He lied.

“I’ve made some serious mistakes, and for that I’m truly sorry,” Pearl said tearfully at a news conference. “I provided incorrect and misleading information to the NCAA. I’ve learned some invaluable lessons. After I provided the false and misleading information, subsequently I went back and corrected the record.

“I learned that it’s not OK to tell the truth most of the time, but you’ve got to tell the truth all of the time,” he said.

No one likes a liar, least of the NCAA. That’s been the organization’s message in dealing with coaches who fib, such as Kelvin Sampson and Dave Bliss. (Not to mention what the NCAA does to student-athletes who lie.)

For now, Pearl’s still the coach at Tennessee. His apparent contrition during Friday’s press conference probably helped convince the school to stand by him for now (though his outstanding record at the school was likely the biggest factor). He’ll take a $1.5 million pay cut over the next five seasons and the school self-imposed recruiting sanctions in an effort to placate the NCAA.

Will that be enough? Will Pearl eventually be fired because of this? (As John Clay wonders, perhaps he should’ve been already.) Andy Katz reports the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions could certainly add to the penalties.

“Anytime you run into real ethical things, it increases the stakes. That’s pretty serious. There are trust issues here. If you can’t trust the guy, then you usually do part ways,” Don Yeager, the CAA commissioner and former chair of the committee.

“You can restrict activity at the school, even if the coach is still there. There are a lot of situations where the school says they still believe in this coach, even though he made a horrible decision.”

Horrible decision is right. He might not be done paying for it, either.

Mike Miller’s also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller, usually talkin’ hoops. Click here for more.

VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.