The Morning Mix

Leave a comment

Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Providence @ No. 8 Syracuse
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ No. 11 Georgetown
7:00 p.m. – Minnesota @ No. 18 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – James Madison @ Northeastern
7:00 p.m. – Charleston @ Western Carolina
8:00 p.m. – Air Force @ Boise State
8:00 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Kentucky
8:00 p.m. – UTEP @ Southern Mississippi
8:45 p.m. – Stephen F. Austin @ Sam Houston State
9:00 p.m. – No. 9 Kansas @ No. 14 Oklahoma State
9:00 p.m. – No. 19 Wisconsin @ Northwestern
9:00 p.m. – Houston @ No. 21 Memphis
9:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Baylor
10:00 p.m. – Washington State @ Arizona State
10:00 p.m. – Pacific @ UC-Irvine
10:05 p.m. – UC-Davis @ Long Beach State
10:15 p.m. – No. 22 Colorado State @ UNLV
11:00 p.m. – Santa Clara @ No. 3 Gonzaga
11:00 p.m. – Washington @ No. 12 Arizona

Read of the Day:
A tremendous story about race and basketball through the eyes of James Reed a former Morgan State player who broke social norms in pursuing his dreams. This is the best thing you will read all day. So don’t continue on until you’ve finished it. (SB Nation)

Andy Glockner’s Bubble Watch is a must-read every week. This is vital information people. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Top Stories:
Ten of the top 20 teams in the country have lost by more than 17 points? I’m not sure if there is a message in all of these statistics other than March is going to be absolutely crazy.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Colorado forward Josh Scott is day-to-day after taking an eblow to the head against Arizona State over the weekend. (Ralphie Report)

Observations & Insight:
– Expansionocalypse rumors began circulating yesterday afternoon indicating that Virginia and North Carolina may have been offered a spot in the Big-Ten. UVA and UNC were the two most likely schools to follow after Maryland and Rutgers joined, but since then the ACC schools publicly announced their solidarity. I have absolutely no clue what this rumor means. (The Champaign Room)

– Aaron Torres ranks the top-10 coaches in the country and has some interesting choices. HINT: Coach-K is not in the top-5. (Aaron Torres Sports)

– An interesting-read on Bucknell’s “anit-HAVOC” defense. The Bison rank in the top-10 for effective field goal defense and defensive rebounding, yet rank 345th in the nation in causing turnovers. (Hoop Vision)

– West Virginia is not a very good team this year. They have a lot of new peices, some of which are not as talented as previously thought, and there is no chemistry. Freshman Eron Harris was seen crying on the bench during the Mountaineers 71-61 loss at Kansas State. While you may mock his tears, you cannot deny that the kid cares. (The Dagger)

– John Gasaway provides some itneresting info on Kansas’ Big-XII title chances, bad losses, and the Big East in the most recent edition of “Tuesday Truths”. (Basketball Prospectus)

– Vander Blue has emerged this season as Marquette’s premier scoring threat. Blue was a highly-touted recruit who spurned Wisconsin for their in-state rivals. But some Marquette fans still don’t appreciate the work that Blue has put in this season. (Anonymous Eagle)

– Allen Crabbe’s mother has weighed in on the Mike Montgomery incident. She says Crabbe has put it behind him. Finally, we can move on. (Mercury News)

– We’ve said it before, but it bares repeating: The Providence Friars are on the up-and-up. (Daly Dose of Hoops)

– Some good words on Oklahoma freshman je’lon Hornbeark, who is putting the finishing touches on a productive freshman campaign. (Crimson and Cream Machine)

– Jeff Borzello updated his Freshman of the Year Rankings. Now w/ less Nerlens Noel. (Eye on College Basketball) 

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

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

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley
1 Comment

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

Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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’

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
3 Comments

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

AP Photo
2 Comments

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.