Aaron Gordon is an example of one of the downfalls of the one-and-done rule

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Yesterday, I penned a fairly lengthy post on Aaron Gordon and why I think that it would be dumb for Arizona to play him at the three next season.

The cliff notes version?

Gordon is a prototype college four-man, he doesn’t yet have the skills to be a perimeter player, and Arizona’s rotation works oh-so-much more smoothly with him up front instead of on the wing.

But here’s where this thing gets tricky: Aaron Gordon is probably not going to be a power forward in the NBA. He’s not Chris Bosh. He’s not Tim Duncan. He’s not David West or Kevin Love, or at least he doesn’t want to be. He quite clearly wants to play on the wing. He wants to be the next Paul George, and, frankly, if he puts in the work on his jumper and his handle, I think that he’s athletically gifted enough to make that a reality.

The other thing about Gordon is that he’s one of those atypical prospects that has no need to play college basketball. He’s not a scholarship athlete looking to produce enough to earn his way into the NBA Draft. He’s a pro prospect being forced to spend a year on campus. He’s not a college player trying to go to the league one day. He’s an NBA player that has to do a year in Tucson before he can cash in on his ability.

And therein lies the problem.

It would be in Gordon’s best interest to spend the year playing on the perimeter, bettering his ball-handling and his shooting touch. But it would be in Arizona’s best interest to have Gordon spend the season as a power forward, helping to rebound and protect while creating matchup problem on the offensive end of the floor.

Remember a couple of years ago when Derrick Williams was still at Arizona? He was forced to play in the paint despite the fact that, at the NBA level, he’s more of a combo-forward. That doesn’t mean that Williams was happy about it, but it did mean that he put together an incredibly efficient, all-american season, got within a missed-Jamelle Horne three of the Final Four and ended up getting picked second in the 2011 draft.

That may end up being the role that Gordon has to play next season.

But that is probably not the best role for Gordon to play in regards to his individual development. It is, however, a position that he has been because of the NBA’s one-and-done rule.

So what do you do if you’re Sean Miller? It would behoove you to keep arguably your most talented player happy by playing him where he wants to play, but if doing so would be a detriment to your team, is it a move worth making?

Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com had a great line in a column this week. “But you want to know the best way to make the NBA? Be awesome.”

The best way for Gordon to be awesome would be to accept a role as a college four-man. He’ll be a star in that spot, I truly believe it. I don’t think it’s crazy to say that he would have a shot at being the Pac-12 Player of the Year — someone capable of averaging 16 points, nine boards and 2.5 blocks — doing so. Accepting that role turned Derrick Williams, who wasn’t 1/10th the prospect that Gordon is coming out of high school, into a No. 2 pick and a starter in the NBA that averaged 12.0 points this season.

It also doesn’t mean that Gordon can’t develop his perimeter skills. He can work with the guards instead of the posts in practice. He can show up early and do ball-handling work on his own. He can make 500 jumpers a day after practice is over. Guarding an opponent’s power forward on 35 nights over the course of the next 13 months isn’t going to drastically change Gordon’s career-path or development.

But it’s one of the downfalls of the one-and-done rule.

A kid that probably shouldn’t be in college is being forced to either spend a year playing a position that he won’t play as a professional, or hurt his team by focusing on what is best for his career.

It’s a tough position to put an 18-year old in.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

NCAA tourney chair addresses non-conference strength of schedule and quadrant system

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The way the NCAA tournament selection committee picks teams for inclusion into the sport’s crowning event is always under intense scrutiny. It’s a national past time, really.

One of the easiest targets is the RPI, an obviously flawed metric. It was the topic of discussion recently in the Omaha World-Herald, most notably the non-conference strength of schedule component.

That post spurred a lengthy response from Creighton athletic director and selection committee chairman Bruce Rasmussen, who defended the committee’s work with a metric that it acknowledges to be imperfect.

Here’s Rasmussen:

“Non-conference SOS is not a predominant tool in selections.

In fact, each year that I have been on the committee, we have discussed why you have to look beyond the number to evaluate a team’s non-conference strength of schedule, and even with this qualifier, non-conference schedule ranks well behind other factors such as how you did against other tournament caliber teams, did you win the games you were supposed to win, and how did you do away from home since winning away from home is difficult and the tournament games are all games away from home.

“I have argued each year that I have been on the committee that non-conference SOS should be taken off the team sheet, but until we develop a new metric it is staying. However, understand that the committee understands its fallacies (as we also recognize other weaknesses in the current RPI formula) and it is not a prominent factor in decisions.”

Rasmussen also examined the quadrant system being used:

“Many think that the first and second quadrants are silos and that every win in the first quadrant or every win in the second quadrant is treated equally.  I think it is important that while we refer to first and second quadrant wins, we also better communicate that this is only a sorting mechanism and each game in these quadrants is looked at differently. They don’t have the same value.”

So while it’s fair to question NCAA selection committee’s decisions and the way in which they make them, it’s clear there is an extensive amount of well-intentioned thought put into the process.

College Basketball Coaches Poll: Michigan State moves atop the Top 25

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Michigan State is your new No. 1 team in the country, according to the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Spartans received 20 of a possible 32 first-place votes after their comeback from 27 points down to beat Northwestern on the road on Saturday.

Virginia is still sitting at No. 2 while Villanova and Xavier round out the top four. Duke climbed a few spots to No. 5.

Here is the full coaches poll:

1. Michigan State (20 first-place votes)
2. Virginia (8)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
6. Gonzaga
7. Texas Tech
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Wichita State
13. Auburn
14. Arizona
15. Ohio State
16. Michigan
17. Clemson
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Saint Mary’s
21. West Virginia
22. Nevada
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee State
25. Arizona State

Was Bob Huggins justified in his anger over foul shots in Kansas win over West Virginia?

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Much has been made of Bob Huggins’ ejection on Saturday evening, as West Virginia blew yet another double-digit lead at Phog Allen Fieldhouse as Kansas picked up a critical, 77-69 win.

The ejection was hilarious, and everything that I want to remember Huggy Bear by: Cussing out all three refs as he earns his second technical and an ejection while needing to hold up his pants with his hands:

Huggs is a national treasure.

The more interesting conversation, however, centered around why Huggins was tossed. Kansas shot 35 free throws on Saturday. West Virginia shot just two, which is an absolutely staggering number.

And I thought this was deserving of further scrutiny.

Let’s start with the obvious: West Virginia fouls a lot, enough that it’s not an exaggeration to say that a foul could probably be called on every possession. Part of the strategy of playing the way that Press Virginia does is that they are betting that officials are not going to call a foul on every possession, because they won’t. West Virginia is also a jump-shooting team this season, as nearly 40 percent of their field goal attempts come from beyond the arc. Their free throw rate both offensively and defensively is dead last in the Big 12.

Put another way, the Mountaineers are always going to be outshot from the free throw line.

Then you have to combine that with the Kansas stats. The Jayhawks are second in the Big 12 on offensive free throw rate and third in defensive free throw rate. Throw in the home court advantage that comes with playing in the Phog, and the safest bet in the world would have been Kansas outshooting West Virginia from the charity stripe.

It also needs to be noted that the 35-2 advantage was 27-2 before West Virginia started fouling intentionally and before Kansas went to the line for those two late Huggins’ technical fouls.

But that didn’t stop Huggins from going off in the press conference after the game:

“We blew the game last year,” Huggins said. “We should have won the game. We had the game. They did a great job, they made shots, we threw it around, we missed free throws, we did everything humanly possible to lose the game. That was us.”

“I’ve been doing this 40 years. I don’t I’ve ever been in a game where we shot two free throws. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a game where the disparity 35-2. I’ve never been in a game like that.”

But perhaps his most telling line was this, when asked what his message to his team was:

“It wasn’t their fault.”

It’s pretty clear that Huggins believed his team was hosed on the road.

The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.

West Virginia is normally going to shoot fewer free throws than their opponents. Kansas is normally going to shoot more free throws that their opponents. Studies have proven that home environments in college basketball have an impact referee decisions as much as any sport in the world, including English soccer. That’s part of having a home court advantage, and it’s part of the advantage of having a rowdy, raucous and loud crowd. It’s why places like Phog Allen, and Cameron Indoor Stadium, and Koch Arena, and the McKale Center, and anywhere else with a big and loud fan base.

But 35-2 is 35-2, and it will take quite a bit of video evidence to proof to me that Kansas did not get a significant benefit from playing in front of their home crowd on Saturday night.

So did the referees cost West Virginia the game?

Debatable. I’d argue that Jevon Carter missing some shots and Daxter Miles’ insistence on passing up open threes to try and pass the ball to players going for a rebound played a pretty big role, as did the fact that Kansas is a really good team that made some big shots down the stretch.

But the whistles played some kind of a role.

Just like they always do in the Phog.

College Basketball AP Poll: Virginia, Michigan State, Villanova top the Top 25

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Virginia remained in the No. 1 spot in the AP Poll while Michigan State and Villanova still sit at No. 2 and No. 3 with Xavier once again in fourth.

The biggest change in the poll was that Duke rose to No. 5 after three straight wins; they were No. 12 last week.

Kentucky is still not a part of the top 25.

Here is the full AP Poll:

1. Virginia (42 first-place votes)
2. Michigan State (19)
3. Villanova (4)
4. Xavier
5. Duke
t-6. Texas Tech
t-6. Gonzaga
8. Kansas
9. Purdue
10. North Carolina
11. Cincinnati
12. Auburn
13. Wichita State
14. Arizona
15. Clemson
16. Ohio State
17. Michigan
18. Rhode Island
19. Tennessee
20. Nevada
21. West Virginia
22. Saint Mary’s
23. Houston
24. Middle Tennessee
25. Florida State

VIDEO: Wichita State celebrates in locker room after win over Cincinnati

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Wichita State went into Cincinnati — well, Northern Kentucky — on Sunday evening and landed their biggest win of the season.

They were fired up about it, as you might imagine.

And their locker room celebrating after the win was, as the kids say, litty:

Here’s the funny part to me: This game wasn’t played at Cincinnati. It wasn’t played at Wichita State. It was played at Northern Kentucky, where the Bearcats are playing their home games while they wait for the renovations on their arena to be completed.

Which means that some poor NKU employee that had nothing to do with either of these two programs had to spend the time cleaning up this mess.