Barack Obama, John Calipari

John Calipari doesn’t care about COIA

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On Wednesday afternoon, the COIA — which is something called the Coalition on Intercollegiate Athletics — released a statement that took a hatcher to Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

The full letter can be found here, but for those that don’t have the time or the desire to read every word that these COIA folks have to say, the gist is this: Other programs should not schedule games against John Calipari on neutral courts because playing games on neutral courts will ruin college basketball and turn it into professional basketball.

Never mind the fact that college basketball’s national championship — the event that pumps almost $800 million into the NCAA’s budget annually — is played on neutral courts.

Honestly, I don’t really have any interest in delving into everything that’s wrong with COIA’s judgement here, especially when Matt Norlander already sliced into it like an amateur surgeon high on cocaine. But I have to wonder just how much the committee cringed when, later Wednesday evening, Calipari announced that during the 2013-2014 season, Kentucky would be playing a double-header with their women’s team against both of Baylor’s programs at the new Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. It will be in exchange for a game at Rupp this coming season.

(For what it’s worth, there is a very specific reason that Cal wanted to play in Cowboys Stadium during the 2013-2014 season. Well, two reasons, actually: the Harrison twins. Aaron and Andrew are both top ten recruits in the Class of 2013 and at the top of Kentucky’s list of targets. They also happen to hail from Richmond, Texas, which is right outside Houston and within driving distance of Dallas. Home game, anyone?)

Kentucky also announced that they had agreed to restart the North Carolina series with home-and-homes that alternate with the Louisville game during the 2013-2014 season that they would be working on a neutral court series with Duke that would begin during the 2013-2014 season. The Wildcats will also play Michigan State in Chicago that season.

Honestly, I don’t have a huge problem with this kind of scheduling. Obviously, holding the best college basketball games of the season in on-campus venues is ideal. The environment is better and, frankly, college basketball just feels right when it is played at Rupp or Assembly Hall or Cameron Indoor Stadium. But there is a method to Cal’s madness, one that I have a hard time disagreeing with. The NCAA tournament is played on neutral courts. The Final Four is played in a football stadium. Getting used to playing in those environs, especially for a team that will perpetually be filled with freshmen, is a smart move for a coach trying to win a national title.

He’s also not the first coach to figure this out.

Personally, I’d rather the game be played on a neutral court than not played at all.

You hear that, Tom Crean?

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Nigel Hayes’ comment on basketball brands hits on greater point

Wisconsin's Nigel Hayes (10) drives on Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Madison, Wis. Hayes had a team-high 21 points in Wisconsin's 79-68 win. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
AP Photo/Andy Manis
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Much is made about the ball when it comes to how the sport of basketball is played and rightfully so, as the ball is the most important piece of equipment. Different brands have different characteristics, and with college basketball programs being able to pick the ball they use for home games there are adjustments to be made during the season.

Wisconsin will play at No. 2 Maryland Saturday, meaning that in the days leading up to the game the Badgers needed to get used to the Under Armour basketball. The brand became a conversation point in the aftermath of Maryland’s win over No. 4 Iowa last month, with the Hawkeyes (while not blaming the ball for their loss) made note of the differences between the Under Armour ball and the Nike ball they use for their home games.

Thursday Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes offered up his observations on the basketball while also pointing out (albeit sarcastically) the goal of intercollegiate athletics.

“It’s definitely different,” Hayes said. “Personally, we don’t like it too much. I don’t like the Under Armour ball whatsoever. But that’s the way this amateur sports league is set up. We’re supposed to be having fun, but all the money is in these basketballs that colleges play with. But it’s an amateur sport, we’re just here for fun. It’s not really that serious. So I guess any ball should be OK.

“Maybe we should have a universal ball like the NBA. You don’t go to the Clippers’ stadium and play with a Nike and then go to Golden State and play with a Rawlings. But in this amateur sport of college, where money isn’t the goal — it’s the student education and experience that you get — we play with a million different basketballs.”

Hayes makes a good point here, and in regards to the NBA all hell would break loose under similar circumstances (remember the leather vs. microfiber composite controversy in 2006?). If these games are solely about fun and the college experience, wouldn’t having one ball used by all schools better fit that mission? This isn’t the biggest of deals when it comes to “amateur” athletics, as different basketball brands have been used for years.

But Hayes was able to take this situation and work it into the discussion of the goals of intercollegiate athletics. Is it about the experience? Or does the ability to profit, be it through a minor move such as using a particular ball or the more impactful step of moving from one conference to another, take precedence? Given the shifts that have occurred in college sports in recent years, it’s quite apparent that the search for additional revenue streams has won out.

Hayes did note that neither he nor his teammates would make excuses, saying that the team would simple “have to get used to” the unfamiliar basketball according to the Wisconsin State Journal. In the end, this was a good use of sarcasm by Hayes to make a greater point about the collegiate athletics machine he and his teammates are but minor parts of.

Marquette fan sends Providence money for missed free throw

Providence's Kris Dunn reacts to his shot during the first half of an NCAA basketball game against Villanova, Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
AP Photo/Chris Szagola
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It goes without saying that sports can inspire some interesting promises, from players and coaches guaranteeing victory to fans making statements that hinge on the outcome of a particular game or play (see: tattoos celebrating a team’s triumphs before they’ve even won the game in question). For one Marquette fan, the need for Providence’s Kris Dunn to miss a free throw during Wednesday night’s game (which Marquette won in overtime) inspired him to make a promise that he intended to keep.

Jamey Schilling took the approach of yelling that he’d pay Dunn $10 if he missed the free throw. Sure enough Dunn missed the shot, and Schilling made good on his promise. But with players themselves unable to receive such funds due to NCAA rules, Schilling sent the check to the Providence athletic department.

Schilling’s gesture did not go unnoticed by Marquette either, as the school sent him a gift card to use in the Marquette Spirit Shop.

H/T For The Win