Final Four - Louisville v Kentucky

Pitino lands 4th 2013 recruit; why isn’t there more oversigning outrage?

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This has been a wild week on the recruiting front, and the latest news to come down on Wednesday night involved our old friend Rick Pitino.

Pitino seemingly came out of nowhere to land a commitment from a 6-foot-9 Nebraskan named Akoy Agau, who is a native of Sudan. As a prospect, Agau is pretty much exactly what you would expect out of a kid from Sudan: he’s long, he’s athletic, he’s got terrific upside as a rebounder and a shotblocker, and he needs to develop the offensive side of his game, although he has proven to have a decent touch from the perimeter.

He’s got enough potential on the court that he is a consensus top 100 recruit and enough vowels in his name that, when combined with current Cardinal bigs Mangok Mathiang and Gorgui Dieng, announcers will have nightmares the night before they have to call a Louisville game.

As hard as this may be to believe, the impossibility of properly pronouncing the names of everyone on the Louisville roster is not the most interesting part of this commitment. You see, as of right now, Louisville has 15 player scheduled to receive a scholarship in 2013-2014. Two seniors are scheduled to graduate — Stephen Van Treese and Peyton Siva — and four players are currently committed to the school — prep point guard Terry Rozier, JuCo point guard Chris Jones, and big men Anton Gill and Agau.

That’s a problem, because college basketball teams are only allowed to have 13 players on scholarship.

This, quite frankly, is the definition of oversigning. And it’s not the first time that Pitino has done this. In 2010-2011 he asked Chris Smith, Kyle Kuric and Elisha Justice to give up their scholarships and become walk-ons to get to the necessary number of scholarship players. Since then, Pitino has “asked” a number of players — Jared Swopshire, Van Treese (he was eventually allowed to return when Raheem Buckles left), George Goode — to transfer to make room for better, healthier recruits.

Personally, I don’t have a huge issue with this. The players weren’t good enough, so they got cut. It sucks, but it happens.

But this is an enormous issue on the football side of things. So why isn’t there more outrage for basketball coaches like Pitino — or Tom Crean or Buzz Williams or any other coach who does something similar — who practice oversigning? John Infante took a look earlier this week in a terrific post. He offers up a number of explanations, but here are the two that I think are the most relevant:

So much more attention to roster management in basketball is paid to the roster management initiated by the players themselves. The high number of transfers helps mask issues with over-signing in two ways. First, it helps provide justification for oversigning in the first place. Coaches never know who will want to leave. Second, it clears up the scholarship crunch.


There are fewer horror stories. 
In basketball, the result of an over-signed basketball team typically ends with a basketball player transferring and moving on to continue his career at another Division I school. Football has all sorts of worse outcomes, including allegations of athletes being pressured into signing permanent medical non-counter scholarships, freshmen dropped from the team on the eve of fall camp, athletes transferring to junior college and needing to restart the recruiting process all over again, etc.

The bottom-line is this: there are a few programs who are developing a reputation for over-recruiting. If you don’t want to run the risk of getting “cut” or being forced to transfer, avoid those schools. Otherwise — i.e. if you decide that you just have to go to a school like Louisville — than you’ll have to deal with any negative outcome.

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

No. 10 Gonzaga outlasts No. 18 UConn despite late offensive struggles

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No. 10 Gonzaga survived a furious rally from No. 18 UConn to win the third place game in the Battle 4 Atlantis, 73-70.

The Zags were up by as much as 21 points early in the second half, leading 48-27, but UConn slowly chipped away at the lead. Kyle Wiltjer led four players in double-figures with 17 points while Eric McClellan added 15 points, making a number of key plays in the second half when it looked like the Zags were in danger of giving away the lead.

As good as Gonzaga looked in the first 22 minutes of this game — and they looked really, really good — the second half exposed the concerns that many had with this group entering the season. Kevin Pangos and Gary Bell Jr., who both shot around 40 percent from beyond the arc and started for four years, graduated, meaning that Gonzaga’s point guard situation is, more or less, Josh Perkins.

Perkins was terrific in the second half of a loss to Texas A&M on Thursday. He played 17 foul-plagued minutes against UConn. When UConn’s defense ratcheted up during the second half, Gonzaga struggled finding a way to consistently get good shots on the offensive end. Part of that was due to ineffective point guard play and part of it was a result of not really having anyone on the offensive end that can create a look on their own. As skilled as Wiltjer is, his impact can be limited when pick-and-pop actions aren’t working and he’s getting doubled in the post.

Perkins is talented, but this is essentially his first season of college basketball; he was a medical redshirt last season after breaking his jaw last November. There are going to be ups-and-downs, and that’s problematic on a team where he is essentially the only point guard on the roster.

The good news?

Gonzaga beat a good UConn team on a day when their best players struggled in crunch-time. It was McClellan and Kyle Dranginis that made the big plays down the stretch, not the big names on the Gonzaga roster.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady ‘awake, alert’ after getting stretchered off court

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Wichita State big man Anton Grady was stretchered off of the floor in the second half of a loss to Alabama after a nasty collision with Dazon Ingram.

The video can be seen above. There was nothing malicious about the way that Grady was injured. When he turned to run up the floor after missing a shot in the lane, he went face first into Ingram’s shoulder. He neck bent in an awkward directions and, after stumbling a few steps, he laid motionless on the floor.

It took 10 minutes for the training staff to strap Grady to a backboard and wheel him out of the arena.

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A Wichita State spokesman told that Grady was taken to a local trauma center for evaluation and that he is “awake, alert and is answering questions appropriately”.

We will have more updates as they come available.

From a basketball perspective, the No. 20 Shockers lost their second game in a row and are now 2-3 on the season.

While for some the Shockers’ résumé is up for questioning following losses to USC and Alabama, two teams projected to finish in the bottom half of their respective leagues, the team’s health is the biggest concern.

Fred VanVleet has been dealing with a hamstring issue since the season began, and an ankle injury limited him in a loss at Tulsa earlier this month. He won’t play again until at least Dec. 5th. and who knows when he’ll be back to full strength. The same can be said for back up point guard and freshman Landry Shamet, who underwent surgery to address a stress fracture in the fifth metatarsal in his left foot. Their injuries have led to even more being asked of senior guard Ron Baker, and the loss of Grady for any significant amount of time certainly isn’t going to help matters..

These early-season losses won’t help Wichita State when it comes to the NCAA tournament, but it’s important to make note of the circumstances surrounding those defeats. To be shorthanded, with one of the absent players ranking among the nation’s best point guards, has an impact that has to be accounted for when evaluating Wichita State. The Shockers will add Conner Frankamp in mid-December, which will help them on the perimeter.

But with their rotation currently being in flux, it’s tough to make any definitive statements on what Wichita State will have to do in order to make another trip to the NCAA tournament. At this point Gregg Marshall and his staff will look for other contributors, one of whom being Markis McDuffie (14 points, seven rebounds vs. Alabama), to emerge and show themselves capable of picking up the slack.