Top 25 Countdown: Others receiving votes

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Throughout the month of October, CollegeBasketballTalk will be rolling out our previews for the 2012-2013 season. Check back at 9 a.m. and just after lunch every day, Monday-Friday, for a new preview item.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To look at the rest of the Top 25, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

Butler:

  • Last Season: 22-15, 11-7 Horizon (t-3rd); Lost in the CBI semifinals
  • Key Losses: Ronald Nored, Chrishawn Hopkins
  • Key Returnees: Andrew Smith (10.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Khyle Marshall (9.8 ppg, 4.3 rpg), Roosevelt Jones (7.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Rotnei Clarke, Kellen Dunham
  • Outlook: Butler is always a tough team defensively, they are much more athletic than you would expect a Butler team to be, and they addressed their biggest issue from last season (perimeter shooting) with the additions of Clarke and Dunham. The problem? The point guard spot. They lost their best defender (Nored) to graduation and their best play maker (Hopkins) to the dreaded violation of team rules.

Cincinnati:

  • Last Season: 26-11, 12-6 Big East (t-4th); Lost to Ohio State in the Sweet 16
  • Key Losses: Yancy Gates, Dion Dixon
  • Key Returnees: Sean Kilpatrick (14.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Cashmere Wright (10.9 ppg, 4.6 apg, 2.0 spg), JaQuon Parker (9.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Justin Jackson (5.2 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.6 bpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Titus Rubles, Shaquille Thomas
  • Outlook: Cincinnati’s perimeter attack is promising as they bring back Kilpatrick, who will compete for Big East Player of the Year, and one of the most underrated point guards in the conference in Wright. The key will be Parker’s ability to rebound and defend at the four spot, which allows the Bearcats to play small. Cincinnati will  have to do that quite often, as they have quite a few question marks up front.

Davidson:

  • Last Season: 25-8, 16-2 SoCon (1st); Lost to Louisville in the Opening Round
  • Key Losses: None
  • Key Returnees: De’Mon Brooks (15.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Jake Cohen (14.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg), Nik Cochran (10.9 ppg, 3.6 apg), JP Kuhlman (10.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Chris Czerapowicz (10.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: None
  • Outlook: Davidson won the usually-balanced Southern Conference by four full games last season. They went into Kansas City and knocked off Kansas. They gave Louisville a fight in the first round of the NCAA tournament. And they bring everyone back from last season. The Wildcats have a chance to be very, very good this season.

Drexel:

  • Last Season: 29-7, 16-2 CAA (1st); Lost in the NIT Quarterfinals
  • Key Losses: Samme Givens
  • Key Returnees: Frantz Massenat (13.7 ppg, 4.8 apg), Damion Lee (12.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg), Chris Fouch (10.8 ppg)
  • Key Newcomers: Tavon Allen, Casey Carroll
  • Outlook: With VCU leaving the CAA, the Dragons look like they will be the favorite to repeat as conference champions. Losing Givens will hurt, but Bruiser Flint has plenty of big bodies at his disposal. The perimeter attack will be as good as ever, as Massenat will be preseason 1st team all-CAA while Lee (a sophomore) has a chance to be the conference player of the year before he graduates.

Florida State:

  • Last Season: 25-9, 12-4 ACC (3rd); Lost to Cincinnati in the Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Bernard James, Luke Loucks, Deividas Dulkys
  • Key Returnees: Michael Snaer (14.0 ppg, 3.8 rpg), Ian Miller (10.3 ppg), Okaro White (7.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Montay Brandon, Aaron Thomas, Devon Bookert, Boris Bojanovsky
  • Outlook: Florida State is always going to be a tough team defensively. They are always going to have big, physical post players. That’s never going to change. This year, they’ll have one of the best all-around guards in the country in Snaer in the mix. The key will be if Miller or the talented crop of freshmen guards can develop and provide Snaer with some offensive support.

Kansas State:

  • Last Season: 22-11, 10-8 Big 12 (5th); Lost to Syracuse in the Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Frank Martin (coach), Jamar Samuels
  • Key Returnees: Rodney McGruder (15.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg), Angel Rodriguez (8.3 ppg, 3.2 apg), Jordan Henriquez (7.6 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.4 bpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Bruce Weber (coach), Michael Orris, Darrell Johnson
  • Outlook: The Wildcats have a solid core to build their team around. McGruder is a potential Big 12 Player of the Year candidate while Rodriguez is a guy that will be on quite a few breakout performer lists. Throw in Will Spradling in the back court on a front court anchored by Henriquez and the big-bodied Thomas Gipson, and K-State’s got a chance to win the league if they can adapt to Bruce Weber’s coaching style.

Marquette:

  • Last Season: 27-8, 14-4 Big East (2nd); Lost to Florida in the Sweet 16
  • Key Losses: Darius Johnson-Odom, Jae Crowder
  • Key Returnees: Vander Blue (8.4 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.6 apg), Junior Cadougan (6.3 ppg, 5.4 apg), Davante Gardner (9.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg), Todd Mayo (7.9 ppg)
  • Key Newcomers: Trent Lockett, Steve Taylor, Jamal Ferguson
  • Outlook: Marquette has a slew of quality players on their roster, particularly on their perimeter, but there are a couple question marks I have for this group. Is there a go-to guy on the roster? How good will Arizona State transfer Trent Lockett be playing meaningful games? Who has the ball in their hands at the end of a clock? Who fills the role of the face-up power forward vacated by Crowder?

Miami:

  • Last Season: 20-13, 9-7 (t-4th);  Lost in the Second Round of the NIT
  • Key Losses: Malcolm Grant, DeQuan Jones
  • Key Returnees: Durand Scott (12.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.1 apg), Kenny Kadji (11.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 41.8% 3’s), Reggie Johnson (10.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg), Shane Larkin (7.4 ppg, 2.9 apg)
  • Key Newcomers: Bishop Daniels
  • Outlook: The ‘Canes look like they could end up being the best team in the ACC outside of the Triangle this season. Kadji and Johnson form a nice inside-outside duo in the front court while Scott and Larkin headline a versatile group on the perimeter. If Miami is going to make some noise, this is the year to do it: six of their top seven players are seniors.

Minnesota:

  • Last Season: 23-15, 6-12 Big Ten (9th); Lost in the NIT Final
  • Key Losses: Ralph Sampson III
  • Key Returnees: Trevor Mbakwe (14.0 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.7 bpg), Rodney Williams (12.2 ppg, 5.6 rpg), Julian Welch (9.5 ppg, 2.9 apg, 43.8% 3’s)
  • Key Newcomers: Charles Buggs, Wally Ellenson
  • Outlook: Looking at the Gopher’s rotation, there is a lot to like. For starters, double-double machine Mbakwe is back for a sixth-year. Will Williams alongside him up front and a trio of talented perimeter players in Welch and the two Hollinses, Tubby Smith has an NCAA tournament-caliber team. The point guard spot will once again be a year-long question mark, however.

Murray State:

  • Last Season: 31-2, 15-1 OVC (1st); Lost to Marquette in the Round of 32
  • Key Losses: Donte Poole, Ivan Aska, Jewuan Long
  • Key Returnees: Isaiah Canaan (19.0 ppg, 3.6 apg, 45.6% 3’s), Ed Daniel (6.8 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg), Zay Jackson? (4.9 ppg, 2.3 apg)
  • Key Newcomers: Erick McCree, Jeffery Moss, CJ Ford
  • Outlook: Murray State lost quite a few important players from last season’s team, but the good news is that they do get back an all-american in Canaan and the athletic and energetic Daniel. Those two will put up numbers and Murray State will wins a lot of games, but a stronger OVC combined with Jackson’s off-season arrest makes a return trip to the dance anything but a guarantee.

North Texas:

  • Last Season: 18-14, 9-7 Sun Belt (5th)
  • Key Losses: Johnny Jones (coach)
  • Key Returnees: Tony Mitchell (14.7 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 3.0 bpg), Chris Jones (14.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 4.3 apg, 2.4 spg), Jordan Williams (10.9 ppg), Alzee Williams (10.5 ppg)
  • Key Newcomers: Tony Benford (coach), TJ Taylor, Keith Coleman, Clarke Overlander, PJ Hardwick
  • Outlook: Normally, teams that finish fifth in the Sun Belt aren’t destined to be top 25 programs, but this Mean Green team is anything but normal. Mitchell is a lottery pick that never was eligible at Missouri. Jones and Jordan Williams were academically ineligible for the second semester last season. Taylor signed with Oklahoma out of high school and Marquette out of Junior College. Roger Franklin transferred in from Oklahoma State. Benford has a very, very good team on his hands.

Oklahoma State:

  • Last Season: 15-18, 7-11 Big 12 (9th)
  • Key Losses: Keiton Page, Cezar Guerrero
  • Key Returnees: Le’Bryan Nash (13.3 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Markel Brown (10.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg), Brian Williams (9.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg), JP Olukemi* (9.4 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Marcus Smart, Phil Forte, Kamari Murphy, Kirby Gardner
  • Outlook: There’s a lot to like with this Oklahoma State team, especially if Olukemi gets his waiver to be eligible all season. Nash and Smart give the Cowboys more consensus top ten recruits than the entire ACC. Markel Brown is a Sportscenter Top Ten play waiting to happen. But they have no size and question marks at the point. Smart has drawn rave reviews at that spot, but can he run the show at the Big 12 level?

Saint Mary’s:

  • Last Season: 27-6, 14-2 WCC (1st); Lost to Purdue in the Opening Round
  • Key Losses: Rob Jones, Clint Steindl
  • Key Returnees: Matthew Dellavedova (15.5 ppg, 6.4 apg), Stephen Holt (10.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 1.8 spg), Brad Waldow (8.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Chris Reyes
  • Outlook: Losing Jones will hurt, but with a very talented back court — headlined by Dellavedova and the underrated Holt — returning, Randy Bennett’s club should be able to compete with Gonzaga for the WCC title once again. Two things to keep an eye on: the development of the sophomore Waldow up front, and what, if any, sanctions will come out of the investigation into the Gaels’ recruiting.

South Dakota State:

  • Last Season: 27-8, 15-3 Summit (2nd); Lost to Baylor in the Opening Round
  • Key Losses: Griffin Callahan
  • Key Returnees: Nate Wolters (21.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.9 apg), Jordan Dykstra (11.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 47.3% 3’s), Chad White (9.3 ppg, 47.2% 3’s), Brayden Carlsen (7.3 ppg, 46.1% 3’s)
  • Key Newcomers: Connor Divine, Jacob Bittle, Matt Donlan
  • Outlook: The Jackrabbits bring back Wolters, who is undoubtedly one of the most valuable players in the country. Their game plan is simple: give Wolters the ball, let him try to penetrate, and put shooters in four spots on the floor around him. Those shooters are back, too, although losing Callahan will hurt. When the threes are dropping, this team is fun to watch and tough to beat. Keep an eye on them.

Stanford:

  • Last Season: 26-11, 10-8 Pac-12 (7th); Won the NIT
  • Key Losses: Josh Owens, Andrew Zimmerman
  • Key Returnees: Chasson Randle (13.8 ppg, 43.8% 3’s), Aaron Bright (11.7 ppg, 3.7 apg, 43.6% 3’s), Dwight Powell (5.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg), Anthony Brown (8.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg)
  • Key Newcomers: Rosco Allen, Grant Verhoeven, Christian Sanders
  • Outlook: The Cardinal have plenty of talent on their roster. Randle is one of the country’s best kept secrets, while Brown and Bright provide some balance on the perimeter. Stanford’s front line is the difference maker for this team. Allen, Verhoeven and Powell have plenty of potential, but this team is probably still a year away from peaking.

Tennessee:

  • Last Season: 19-15, 10-6 SEC (t-2nd); Lost in the Second Round of the NIT
  • Key Losses: Cameron Tatum, Renaldo Woolridge
  • Key Returnees: Trae Golden, Jarnell Stokes, Jeronne Maymon
  • Key Newcomers: Derek Reese, Armani Moore, D’Montre Edwards
  • Outlook: Did you know that Tennessee finished second in the SEC last season? And they bring back essentially their entire roster? That includes Stokes, who had a very successful season despite enrolling in January, when he was supposed to be a high school senior. The Vols are going to be a tough, physical team that is no fun to play. On the nights they get scoring from their wings, they’ll be very difficult to get a win against.

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

Iowa’s McCaffery says, “I’ve turned programs in” for cheating

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There aren’t a lot of unwritten rules in basketball. One of them, though, is that if a coach breaks a real rule, other coaches don’t speak up. Coaches would seemingly rather lose out on a recruit or transfer rather than turning in one of their own for suspected malfeasance.

Not for Fran McCaffery, though.

The Iowa coach was asked Monday about the FBI investigation into corruption into college hoops, and freely volunteered that he has previously turned other programs in for violations – and that he’ll do it again, if need be.

“I’ve turned programs in and I’ll continue to do that when I know that there’s something going on,” McCaffery said at the program’s media day, according to the Des Moines Register. “But a lot of times you don’t know what’s going on. So can you police yourselves? Only if you know something’s going on. But even then it’s hard for the NCAA to do something.”

Turning in another program for violations is really one of the biggest taboos in the coaching profession. That’s why you get coaches look silly in blocking schools for transfers when tampering is suspected, rather than a coach just reporting tampering.

McCaffery’s tactic, while probably frowned upon by many of his colleagues, is probably the best weapon the NCAA has in combating cheating. If coaches make it clear they won’t tolerate cheating – or that if it occurs, it won’t go unremarked upon – that will go along way in changing a culture and system that the FBI is going to potentially uncover with its wide-ranging investigation that already has resulted in 10 people’s arrest and a Hall of Fame coach’s firing.

“Any time the game is cleaned up,” McCaffery said, “it’s better for all of us.”

Report: Louisville offered $1.5 million settlement to Pitino

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When it became clear that Louisville and Rick Pitino were going to part ways, much of the discussion instantly turned to the more than $40 million left on the coach’s contract.

The school reportedly tried to avoid that whole ordeal Monday, but Pitino apparently wasn’t interested.

Louisville offered to pay $1.5 million to a charity started by Pitino in exchange for his resignation, according to WDRB-TV Louisville. Pitino did not accept and was then fired for cause by the Louisville board.

It’s little surprise to see Pitino reject such an offer with so many more millions on the table should he (almost certainly) begin legal proceedings trying to recoup the cash that Louisville says it doesn’t owe him by firing for cause.

I vehemently reject (the school’s) right to do so ‘for cause,’” Pitino said in an affidavit sent to the school. “I have given no ’cause’ for termination of my contract.”

The firing came on the heels of the latest controversy  to hit Louisville under Pitino’s watch. First came the escort scandal that rocked the program, but now the school is part of the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. Ten people were arrested as part of the probe, including an adidas executive who is alleged to have orchestrated getting $100,000 to the family of a recruit in order to facilitate his commitment to the Cardinals program.

Pitino may be out at Louisville, but with more than $40 million at stake, the school surely hasn’t seen the last of him.

Louisville officially fires Rick Pitino

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Louisville’s Athletic Association has officially fired head coach Rick Pitino nearly three weeks after an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball linked the Hall of Fame head coach and his program to a $100,000 payment from Adidas to a recruit that enrolled at Louisville.

The association, made up of trustees, faculty, student and administrators, oversees Louisville athletics. They voted unanimously to fire Pitino.

Pitino has $44 million in salary remaining on his contract, which extends through the 2026 season. He was with Louisville for 16 seasons.

Pitino had been ‘effectively fired‘ by the university on September 27th, the day after the scandal first broke.

Earlier this summer, Louisville had received their sanctions from the NCAA in a different scandal that enveloped Pitino’s program. In October of 2015, a book was published by an escort named Katina Powell who alleged that a member of Pitino’s staff had paid for strippers and prostitutes for recruits and members of the Louisville team, some of whom were underage. The NCAA’s sanctions, which included vacating the 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Title in addition to Louisville’s self-imposed 2016 postseason ban, were handed down in June, two weeks after a Louisville coach had allegedly helped facilitate a $100,000 payment from Adidas to Brian Bowen’s family and six weeks before another coach would allegedly attempt to do the same for a 2019 prospect.

Kansas’ Self: Adidas case a “dark cloud on our profession’

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self had come to know James Gatto well over the years, along with just about everyone else involved with the college basketball side of the athletic apparel giant Adidas.

It comes with the territory as one of the company’s flagship schools.

But when Self first heard that Gatto had been swept up in a wide-ranging FBI investigation, centered on Louisville but uncovering corruption elsewhere in college basketball, the Jayhawks’ coach admitted being “very disappointed and disheartened” and likened it to a “dark cloud for our profession.”

Prosecutors have accused the 47-year-old Gatto of conspiring with coaches and others to funnel payments to top prospects and their families to win commitments to play at schools sponsored by Adidas. The idea was that their relationship with Adidas would continue whenever they reached the professional level.

The family of one prospect was allegedly paid $100,000 to commit, according to court documents, and the school was later revealed to be Louisville. The school has since placed coach Rick Pitino on administrative leave while the federal investigation is being resolved. Nine others, including former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, have been charged in the case.

Self said during a lengthy interview Friday that the cash payments from Adidas surprised him, but “what is not surprising is third parties’ involvement in recruiting. Everyone should know that.”

“That’s prevalent everywhere,” he said. “There’s nothing illegal about agents talking to kids and their families in ninth and 10th grade. There’s nothing illegal about shoe companies funding AAU programs. That is what’s been encouraged and done, so it shouldn’t be a surprise you could have influence from third parties.”

Kansas officials insist they have not been contacted by the FBI, and the school is not under any sort of investigation. It

Kansas recently reached a 12-year contract extension with Adidas that will ultimately provide the school with $191 million in sponsorship money and apparel. Self suggested the affiliation is being used by rivals on the recruiting trail.

“Whenever in recruiting there is something out there that has been reported, whether it’s reliable or unreliable, total myth, whatever, there’s usually competitors that make sure that information gets to people. Unfortunately, that’s how it works,” Self said. “You can say that’s negative recruiting … but a lot of times the things that are reported are so inaccurate it puts you on the defense.”

The Jayhawks already have commitments from two top-100 prospects in 6-foot-9 forward Silvio de Sousa from Florida’s IMG Academy and 6-10 center David McCormack from Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy.

They are also in the mix for several more top-50 prospects in what could be a crucial class for them.

“I’d be lying,” Self said, “if I told you we hadn’t discussed these issues with kids. And has it hurt us to date? I don’t think it has. But it’s not signing day, either.”

Attorney makes case for Louisville to retain Pitino as coach

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rick Pitino’s attorney has told the Louisville Athletic Association that it should not fire the coach of the men’s basketball program because his client “could not have known” about activities alleged in a national federal investigation of the sport.

Steve Pence made his case Monday while the ULAA was meeting to discuss whether to fire Pitino nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged the program’s involvement in the investigation. The association board is still meeting and has not announced its decision.

Association, a separate body that oversees Louisville’s sports programs and comprised of trustees, faculty, students and administrators, on Oct. 2 authorized university interim President Greg Postel to begin the process of firing Pitino for cause after Postel placed him on unpaid administrative leave Sept. 27.

Pitino, 65, is not named in court complaints in the federal probe but Postel said in a disciplinary letter that the allegations violated his contract.

Pence has contended that Louisville rushed to judgment and made his case before the board for 45 minutes on Monday.

He said Pitino should be retained and noted, “The coach did not engage in any of this activity, he didn’t know about the activity. I think we made a very compelling case to the board, I think they listened attentively and we’ll just have to wait and see what they say.”

Pitino has coached 16 years with the program, a run that included winning the 2013 NCAA championship but was tarnished by several embarrassing off-court incidents.