Big 12 Media Day Basketball

“Free agency” in college basketball?

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On the heels of Antonio Barton’s transferring from Memphis to Tennessee earlier today, there are many coaches around the country that are shaking their heads. It isn’t that they find Barton, or any other player’s decision to use their final year of eligibility elsewhere, at fault, but it is the rule allowing players to transfer this late in their college career that is the crux of the problem.

Even though many of college basketball’s premier programs are the ones who benefit from this rule, Bill Self told the Lawrence Journal-World that he disagrees in principle:

“You applaud anyone that can get their degree early. I am not knocking that at all. You look at it from the big picture. If you are a mid-major and you sit (red-shirt) a guy because it’s best for his life and he graduates after four years, you have to re-recruit him just to get him to come back to your school if he’s any good at all. I think it’s a bad rule…When you get to the point you are potentially recruiting kids off other kids’ campuses, I think it’s a big-time negative situation.”

In early May, Jon Rothstein captured the situation perfectly:

Herb Sendek, Arizona State’s head coach who saw his star player Evan Gordon transfer to Indiana earlier this month where he will be eligible to play immediately, echoed Rothstein’s sentiment: “The rule in most cases is not being used as intended and is clearly adding to the widespread free agency in college basketball,” Sendek told ESPN.

Said Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan:

“I positively believe a fifth-year guy should not be able to play right away. All they’re doing is looking at curriculum, finding a program that a school doesn’t have. Are they really trying to get a master’s degree? Or is it, ‘Maybe my team isn’t as good and we lost a lot and I want to be in the NCAA Tournament next year and …’ There’s a market out there for this. You take guys through summer school and give them every academic advantage and then they graduate and then they can just go to another school.

In some cases programs greatly benefit with this rule, like we just saw earlier today with Antonio Barton transferring to Tennessee, but that doesn’t make the rule right. In other cases, it significantly hurts mid-major programs who see top players transfer to bigger programs after discovering their talents are on par with that level of basketball.

Look no further than Trey Zeigler, who spent the first two years of his college career at Central Michigan, then played his junior season at Pittsburgh after his father was fired as head coach at CMU allowing him to play immediately for Jamie Dixon, and now he’ll spend his final year at TCU. Although he will most likely be sitting out for the 2013-14 season, his playing for three different schools over the course of his career speaks to Self’s point of “recruiting kids off other kids’ campuses.”

Every transfer situation is a unique one, but when reviewing Jeff Goodman’s 2013 transfer list that features more than 400 players transferring, it suggests there needs to be a strong review of this specific transfer rule, as well as transferring from one school to another in general.

Recruiting no longer ends in high school and on the AAU circuit, it has now extended to poaching college players from other Division 1 schools.

You can find Kevin on twitter @KLDoyle11

Illinois State ends No. 21 Wichita State’s 12-game win streak

Fred VanVleet
AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki
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Having won 12 straight games, No. 21 Wichita State entered the weekend one of the hottest teams in the country. And with a four-game lead atop the Missouri Valley standings, clinching the regular season title was more a matter of “when” as opposed to “if.” But none of that mattered Saturday night at Illinois State, as the Redbirds managed to hand the Shockers their first conference loss by the final score of 58-53.

In addition to the 12-game win streak, which was second to Stony Brook (15 straight wins), Wichita State also saw its 19-game win streak in Valley regular season games come to an end. Illinois State was the last Valley team to beat Wichita State, eliminating the Shockers in the Arch Madness semifinals last March, and they played with the confidence of a team that believed it could win.

And after a rough first half the Redbirds found a way to come back, erasing a 16-point second half deficit in the process.

Wichita State’s issue in the second half was the fact that they couldn’t make shots. The Shockers shot just 26.7 percent from the field and 1-for-14 from three in the second half, with Fred VanVleet going scoreless and Shaq Morris scoring just one point. And just two players, Ron Baker and Conner Frankamp, managed to make multiple field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes. Illinois State certainly deserves credit for that, as they took away the quality looks Wichita State was able to find in building its lead.

And on the other end of the floor Paris Lee took control of the game during Illinois State’s comeback, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the second half with Deontae Hawkins adding 11 second-half points. Illinois State was even worse from the field, finishing the game shooting just over 27 percent from the field. But they were able to attack the Wichita State defense and get to the foul line, outscoring the Shockers 22-9 from the charity stripe. And in a game in which neither team could get much going offensively, the ability to get points from the line proved to be the difference.

This defeat doesn’t help Wichita State, but did anything really change? Maybe the margin for error when it comes to an at-large bid gets a little smaller with the loss in the eyes of some. But when considering injuries to the likes of VanVleet and Anton Grady in non-conference play, those early season losses are understandable. Saturday was a rough night for Wichita State, but given the maturity and talent on at Gregg Marshall’s disposal the Shockers will be fine moving forward.

VIDEO: New Mexico loses game on blown call by officials

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Nothing like a nice, controversial finish to get the blood flowing.

New Mexico was on the receiving end of a rule misinterpretation on Saturday afternoon, and that interpretation likely cost the Lobos a win over San Diego State and, arguably, a shot at the MWC regular season title.

Here’s the situation: New Mexico is up by three with 12 seconds left and the ball under their own basket. Their allowed to run the baseline, so Craig Neal calls a play where the inbounder throws the ball to a player running out of bounds.

Totally league as long as the player establishes out of bounds before touching the ball. The referee rules that he doesn’t.

Here’s the video:

The problem?

According to the rules, Xavier Adams — the player receiving the pass from Cullen Neal — only needed one foot on the floor out of bounds in order to establish himself as an inbounder that was able to catch that ball. He got one foot down (see the picture above), but the referees appeared to rule that he needed to have both feet down.

That was incorrect, according to the Mountain West office.

“While this was a very close judgment call made at full speed, it has been determined after careful review of slow-motion video replays the call was in fact incorrect,” the league said in a release. “The New Mexico player did get one foot down (two feet are not required) out-of-bounds before receiving the ball, thus establishing his location in accordance NCAA Basketball Playing Rules 4.23.1.a and 7.1.1.  By rule, the officials were not permitted to go to the monitor during the game to review this play.”

And here’s the kicker: When SDSU got the ball back, they hit a three to send the game into overtime, where the Aztecs won. But if New Mexico had won this game, they’d be sitting at 8-2 in MWC play, one game behind SDSU in the loss column with a return game against them in The Pit.

Instead, they’re now three games back with seven to play, meaning that the race is effectively over.

It’s tough to blame the referees here — it was a bang-bang call that is only clear in slow-motion replay — but man, that’s a big call to miss.