Indiana v Michigan

Tom Crean’s postgame dustup with Jeff Meyer is a good thing for all of us

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We see it time and time again: in the age of social media and youtube and viral videos, it’s common to see a relatively unimportant occurrence blow up into a full-blown ‘scandal’, with judgements and reactions dominating Facebook newsfeeds and twitter timelines.

Sometimes it’s funny, as evidenced by the great responses to Deandre Jordan’s brutal posterization of Brandon Knight last night.

Other times, it’s more a nuisance and unnecessary, which is precisely what this tweet from Dan Wetzel generated. Tom Crean and Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer got into a bit of a yelling match after last night’s game, and after Wetzel tweeted about it, the twitterosphere’s eyes turned towards the video of the confrontation. Crean was asked about it in his press conference after the game. He was also asked about it on today’s Big Ten conference call, as was Michigan head coach John Beilein.

Crean tried to downplay it, saying that he apologized to Meyer before getting on his flight home. Beilein was less than thrilled to have to comment on it.

“Jeff and I discussed it afterwards,” Beilein said. “I’m not going to comment on another coach or another university. I will say Michigan is always going to win with class and lose with class,” he said. “I am really proud of the way Jeff showed great poise in the aftermath of that loss.”

Frankly, everyone is making a big deal out of nothing. The two coaching staffs don’t like each other? Good! That should make for some intense, entertaining games in the future. It will make for must-see TV moments, like the handshake line in Michigan beats Indiana in the Big Ten tournament. It will create intrigue and drama. There will be a buzz of twitter and the folks on Sportscenter will be talking about it. More attention on what could turn into one of the great rivalries in our sport of the next decade is a good thing.

What’s more, it’s almost a breath of fresh air. Too often, the interaction between public figures in sports and the media is all about political correctness, keeping true feelings hidden. Michigan and Indiana compete for everything in hoops: Big Ten titles, Final Fours, McDonalds All-Americans. They go head-to-head quite often. No one wants to lose.

Crean and Meyer shouldn’t have to pretend to like each other if they don’t.

Crean and Beilein have to pretend to like each other if they don’t.

They’re human beings. Competitive, intense human beings. They don’t like each other, and they’re going to react.

In fact, the only reason that I think Crean made a mistake here is that it has deflected the attention of Indiana’s achievement away from the players. Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo should be splashed across the headlines for their play last night. Jordy Hulls and Christian Watford should be getting praised for turning the Indiana program back around. I shouldn’t be writing my second post of the day about a screaming match between two grown men that don’t like each other.

You can wring your hands from atop your soapbox all you want.

I’m going to hope that Michigan and Indiana will play in the Big Ten semis.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Indiana lands four-star Class of 2017 wing Justin Smith

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Indiana landed an athletic wing commitment on Monday night as four-star small forward Justin Smith pledged to the Hoosiers on Twitter.

The 6-foot-6 Smith is a native of Lincolnshire, Illinois and comes from Stevenson High School as he’s regarded as the No. 105 overall prospect in the Rivals national Class of 2017 rankings.

A high-flying wing who is great in the open floor, Smith should fit the Hoosiers’ uptempo system perfectly and if he’s able to get a more consistent perimeter jumper then he has a chance to be a really nice piece for Indiana.

Smith joins three-star guard Al Durham in Indiana’s recruiting Class of 2017.

Michigan State addingTom Izzo Hall of History wing in remodeled Breslin Center

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 22:  Head coach Tom Izzo of the Michigan State Spartans reacts against the Virginia Cavaliers during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 22, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has already been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this fall and the longtime Spartans head coach is receiving another unique honor in the remodeled Breslin Center.

The school announced over the weekend that the Tom Izzo Hall of History will be added to the Breslin Center renovations as the building is supposed to be completed by the fall of 2017.

“The Tom Izzo Hall of History will become a great gathering place on our campus where together we can celebrate the excellence of Spartan Basketball and MSU Athletics,” athletic director Mark Hollis said in a release. “When this facility project is complete it will be the finest college basketball facility in the country, so it’s only fitting that Tom’s name will be a permanent part of it.”

Overall, this is a nice addition to the Breslin Center, especially since Izzo and Michigan State basketball will forever be associated with one another. It should be cool for fans to go through it and re-live great moments in Michigan State history and the wing is another nice recruiting tool that can help point out all of Izzo’s biggest accomplishments.

 

Puerto Rico Tip-Off Tournament moving to Orlando amid Zika concerns

Lon Kruger
(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
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Amid concerns over the Zika virus, the annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off announced a change in venue on Monday. Rather than staying on the island, the tournament will move to Orlando and all games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney.

The dates and teams will remain the same for the event as it will be played Thursday, Nov. 17, Friday, Nov. 18 and Sunday, Nov. 20. The field for the event includes Arizona State, Clemson, Davidson, Missouri, Northern Iowa, Oklahoma, Tulane and Xavier.

“We enjoy the beauty and accommodations that are afforded in Puerto Rico and wanted to make every effort in playing the event in San Juan, but the concern for student-athlete and spectator welfare became the primary driver in the decision,” Pete Derzis, senior vice president of ESPN Events said in the official release.  “We intend to return to Puerto Rico in the future.”

Puerto Rico is currently under a Level 2 alert for Zika according to the CDC. Since there have been cases of Zika on the island with native mosquitoes, it’s probably a smart move to eliminate all concerns over the virus if they can easily move the tournament elsewhere. It probably isn’t ideal for fans who purchased travel packages to Puerto Rico to watch the event, but it’s a small price to pay for the safety of everyone involved.

The Puerto Rico Tourism Company is also upset with the decision as Executive Director Ingrid Rivera Rocafort released a statement on Monday night.

“We are disappointed about this decision that we believe has been based on fear not the facts about Puerto Rico,” the statement read.

“There is no public health reason to cancel the Puerto Rico Tip Off or any sporting event in Puerto Rico. There is no doubt that our strong fan base and local spectators would have turned out to support their teams. Less than one percent of Puerto Rico’s 3.5 million population has contracted Zika, a far cry from projections. The hype and misinformation is fostering irrational decisions.”

PHOTO: Purdue unveils statue of John Wooden outside Mackey Arena

John Wooden (Purdue Athletics)
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John Wooden will forever be associated with the UCLA program for what he did while coaching there.

10 national titles in 12 years, including seven in a row. Not bad, right?

What some people may forget is that before he got into coaching, Wooden was one of the best basketball players in the world. He played his collegiate ball at Purdue, where he was a three-time all-american and the 1932 National Player of the Year.

To honor Wooden’s legacy as one of the greatest Boilermakers ever, Purdue built a statue of Wooden and unveiled it in front of Mackey Arena this weekend:

“Not many people think of Johnny Wooden as a Boilermaker, but when I got here in 1957, some of the old-timers still remembered him as a player,” Jim Hicks, the alumnus that donated the statue, said. “I’m so delighted that people will see this statue and read his Pyramid of Success because I think the pyramid was his most important contribution.”

One of the neat touches of the statue: Wooden’s Pyramid of Success is right there for all to see.

North Carolina lands third commitment in 2017 class

SAN ANTONIO, TX - MARCH 23: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the third round of the 2014 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Iowa State Cyclones at the AT&T Center on March 23, 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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North Carolina picked up their third commitment in the Class of 2017 on Monday in big man Brandon Huffman.

A four-star prospect who will play his final season of high school ball at Word of God Academy in North Carolina, Huffman’s strength at this point in his development is as a defensive presence around the basket. He stands 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and should be able to help replace Kennedy Meeks, who graduates this spring.

Huffman’s development on the offensive end of the floor isn’t quite there yet. A native of Anchorage, Alaska, Huffman is still learning how to be more influential on that end.

Huffman joins Jalek Felton and Andrew Platek in UNC’s 2017 class.