Rob Dauster

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Chris Holtmann, Ohio State having ‘conversations’ about igniting in-state rivalries

5 Comments

The era of Ohio State avoiding regular season, non-conference games against intra-state rivals may be coming to an close with Chris Holtmann at the helm of the program.

Ohio State has not played Cincinnati in a non-conference game since 2006. They have not faced off with Dayton for nearly 30 years, since 1988, and Xavier has not gotten a regular season game against the Buckeyes since 1935, but a change to that philosophy is at least under consideration.

“We’ve engaged in some of those conversations,” Holtmann told reporters this week, adding later that “part of our job is to provide a game that’s exciting for our fans. We’re working on some things. It’s probably, in terms of a final decision, a ways off, but I’m certainly open to it.”

Holtmann was formerly the head coach at Butler, who participated in the Crossroads Classic, an annual doubleheader featuring the four best programs in Indiana — Indiana, Purdue, Butler and Notre Dame — squaring off against each other. Something like that in the state of Ohio would be awesome for everyone … except the OSU head coach if and when he loses to “little brother”.

Holtmann understands that, and if he’s OK with risking it in the name of an awesome event that should get those rivalries going, then Ohio State should back him.

VIDEO: Dayton’s Sam Miller gets drunk, arrested then beaten up after fight in jail

5 Comments

Dayton’s Sam Miller is going to wish that he just slept this one off.

Miller was arrested on Sunday for disorderly conduct and underage drinking and compounded those legal issues by getting into a fight in Greene County Jail in Ohio, landing himself an assault charge in the process. He appeared in court on Monday.

“The University of Dayton is aware of an incident, but cannot discuss individual student matters because of federal privacy laws,” Dayton Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said in a statement on Tuesday. “With all student conduct matters, the University responds in accordance with the University’s Student Code of Conduct and other applicable standards.”

It started at a bar in Beavercreek where, according to a police report obtained by the Dayton Daily News, Miller reacted to being cut off by the bartender by knocking all of the glasses on the bar on the floor. He was thrown out of the bar, the report says, where he became violent with the bouncer and police officers outside.

He was eventually taken to jail, where he allegedly urinated in the corner of the room that he was placed in. When he was moved to a holding cell with another inmate, Miller started a fight by slapping that inmate. He would eventually lose that fight, taking a few punches to the head before getting knocked into a bench while wearing nothing but his boxers.

Video of the fight was caught on camera:

The Dayton Daily News published an extended version, which included an image of a bloodied Miller being led out of the cell:

Miller, a 6-foot-9 forward from the D.C. area, averaged 4.5 points and 2.3 boards as a sophomore.

NCAA would be wrong to force N.C. State’s Braxton Beverly to redshirt

Rob Carr/Getty Images
2 Comments

Last November, Lavar Batts, a top 100 point guard from North Carolina, signed his Letter of Intent with VCU and head coach Will Wade. That same some, Thomas Allen, a top 100 shooting guard, signed his Letter of Intent with N.C. State and Mark Gottfried.

Batts is now on campus at N.C. State prepping for his freshman season after asking for, and receiving, a release from VCU in the spring, just days after Will Wade accepted the head coaching position at LSU. He took Allen’s spot on the roster after he asked for, and received, a release from the Wolfpack. Allen is now a freshman at Nebraska.

Both players are eligible to play this season.

Braxton Beverly, however, may not be.

Beverly is not a top 100 prospect, but he is a three-star point guard that signed his LOI with Ohio State the same month that Batts and Allen signed their LOIs. After Thad Matta was fired, he asked for, and received, a release from the Buckeyes and, a month later, signed with the Wolfpack; his head coach at Hargrave Military Academy, A.W. Hamilton, was hired as an assistant coach by new N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts, who was himself the head coach at Hargrave until 2011.

But Beverly is going to have to receive a waiver from the NCAA if he wants to play this season.

Unlike Gottfried and Wade, the coaching change at Ohio State happened in early June, nearly a month after Ohio State’s summer sessions began on May 10th. Beverly, who received his release on June 30th, attended summer classes in Columbus on the assumption that the coaching staff that had recruited him to Ohio State would be coaching him at Ohio State. Since he attended those classes, he is no longer a prospect asking out of an LOI. In the NCAA’s eyes, he’s a freshman looking to transfer.

The rule, by the book, is that Beverly will have to do a year in residence before he is eligible to play for the Wolfpack, meaning he redshirts the 2017-18 season.

And that’s wrong.

The NCAA still has plenty of time to get this right. It is August 1st, after all, and as a transfer, Beverly is allowed to do everything that the rest of his teammates do — go to workouts, travel with the team to Italy, etc. — until actual games start being played. That’s three months away, which is plenty of time to apply for a waiver from the NCAA.

And if the NCAA is smart, they give Beverly one.

Look, this situation is unique. Coaches are not often fired in June, not when they are the greatest head coach in the history of a program like Ohio State and certainly not when they are just three months removed from getting a vote of confidence from their Athletic Director. No one expected this, and it would be unfair to punish Beverly for doing what many recruits do when the coach that recruited them moves on.

(And while we’re here, yes, recruits commit to coaches, not schools. The NCAA failing to recognize this is dumb and stubborn and, frankly, an embarrassment.)

What’s more, however, is that keeping Beverly from being eligible in 2017-18 decentivizes attending summer school for incoming freshmen. Where is the motivation to get a jump-start on your education if you know that it puts you at risk of being locked into the school if the coach you committed to is fired or takes a new job?

Ohio State has already granted Beverly a release. They’re fine with him playing.

Hopefully, the NCAA will cut him some slack as well.

Appeals court won’t review Mateen Cleaves sex assault case

Leave a comment

FLINT, Mich. (AP) — An appeals court says it won’t review a judge’s decision to reinstate sexual assault charges against former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves.

Three Michigan Court of Appeals judges denied Cleaves’ request in an order dated Monday. The case is expected to return to court in Genesee County for trial.

Genesee County Judge Archie Hayman in April reinstated the case against 39-year-old Cleaves, who faces charges including unlawful imprisonment and second-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Cleaves is accused of assaulting a woman after a charity golf event and a visit to a Flint-area bar in 2015.

Defense attorney Frank Manley says in a statement that he’ll continue to fight the “unjust accusations.”

Cleaves, a Flint native, led Michigan State to the NCAA basketball championship in 2000 and played for four NBA teams.

CBT Podcast: Gary Parrish on LaVar and LaMelo Ball

Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Leave a comment

Gary Parrish was in Las Vegas last week while LaMelo Ball and LaVar Ball became the biggest story in sports. He joins the CBT pod to discuss those two, along with Mitchell Robinson, Dedric Lawson and, somehow, Cooper Manning.

LaMelo Ball left to carry the burden of LaVar’s actions

Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images
5 Comments

Did you really need LaVar Ball to get a female referee removed from a game for the simple act of doing her job to know that he’s a jerk?

This is the same guy that has gotten his son’s high school coach fired after a 30-3 season for “not being experienced enough,” told a female radio host to “stay in your lane” before selling BBB branded t-shirts with that saying for $50 a piece and spent all spring and summer berating officials as the head coach of LaMelo Ball’s Big Baller AAU team, once pulling his team off the court before the game was over. The only surprising part of last week’s confrontation was that adidas actually acquiesced to LaVar’s demands.

Seriously.

Think about that.

The organizers of an AAU tournament being hosted by a billion-dollar apparel company sided with the coach of an AAU team that went 3-3 at the event instead of the referee that was being paid to officiate the game.

It’s absolutely baffling.

And it’s about par for the course for LaVar, who has just about completed an eight-month journey from entertaining sideshow — a loudmouth sports dad trying to create buzz for the Big Baller Brand, a startup apparel company he’s running to try and change the shoe game, by saying he’s better than Michael Jordan and getting into verbal battles with Charles Barkley — to misogynistic egomaniac.

LaVar Ball (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

LaVar isn’t a total zero, mind you. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that would have anything negative to say about his three sons beyond the fact that they’re his children, and it’s not easy to raise three boys who all excel at their craft — Lonzo was the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, LiAngelo will play at UCLA starting next season and LaMelo is a 15-year old in the Class of 2019 putting up 50-point nights while playing in tournaments against kids two years his senior — and have never, to my knowledge, been in any actual trouble. He can be overbearing while loving his children and raising them to be great kids; that doesn’t preclude him from being a good father.

Personally, the antics have reached a critical mass for my taste. I’m over him, but I’m not naïve enough to think he’s going away anytime soon. Lonzo has a better shot than anyone from the loaded 2017 draft at turning into a Hall of Fame-level talent, and LaMelo still has two more years left of high school. At minimum, LaVar is going to be in the national consciousness for another decade, and simply being a misogynist isn’t going to keep his family’s celebrity from rising, not in a country where Chris Brown beats up Rihanna and remains a star, R. Kelly still has fans and our President can be caught on tape explaining how, exactly, you’re allowed to grab women when you’re famous and still win an election.

LaVar Ball’s actions are incomparable.

As far as we know, he just thinks that women should stay in their lane and keep out of sports, and he’s far from the only man that believes as much.

Welcome to America. It is what it is.

Which is why my concern here is LaMelo and what kind of negative impact this could have on him in the long-term.

He is a celebrity in every sense of the word, the first athletic prodigy that has had to deal with the kind of fame and media attention typically reserved for the likes of a young Hollywood star.

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 22: Lonzo, right, and LaMelo Ball (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

He has 2.3 million followers on Instagram. He’s been on TMZ often enough that he has his own searchable tag. He had mobs of fans trying to rush past security to get pictures with him at a game on Wednesday night in Las Vegas, a game that was so crowded that LeBron didn’t even bother trying to get in, a game that more than 8o,000 people were watching at one time and that has been viewed 1.3 million times in total. When his teams left games in Vegas they had to do so through the back exit of the gym.

And he’s 15 years old.

Fame like that is hard for anyone to handle, let alone someone that isn’t old enough to drive or grow a mustache. I can name a dozen can’t-miss prospects that never lived up to their hype, and it’s not hard to find a long list of child stars that couldn’t handle the fame of Hollywood. LaMelo has to navigate both of those paths and do so while growing up in the age of social media. For LaMelo, the downside of this notoreity is palpable. Any post he makes on Instagram or Twitter gets hammered by trolls. Back in May, someone edited together a lowlight reel of a game LaMelo played, a two-minute clip of turnovers and airballs and porous defense that ended up trending on just about every social media platform in existence.

LaVar’s personality, and the public’s rejection of it, isn’t the only reason that there is a backlash against LaMelo.

Part of it is the way that he, and the Big Ballers, play. It’s reminiscent of the last pickup game of the day: They shoot a lot of threes, they play very little defense, they cherry pick layups and they try to win every game 130-120. It’s not the prettiest brand of basketball. It’s also not all that different from the way they played when Lonzo was running the show. What’s changed is the exposure; Lonzo’s teams were a story that you were told, something you heard about second-hand. LaMelo’s games play out for everyone to see.

The way LaMelo himself plays doesn’t help matters, either. He’s a point guard that is quite literally allowed the freedom to do whatever he wants, whether that is firing up 40-footers as he dribbles across half court or trying to weave his way through five defenders before throwing a no-look pass.

Sometimes those things work, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes he looks like a ball-hog, sometimes he looks like Steph Curry.

And while it’s difficult to watch, there are three things that are important to remember:

  1. LaMelo is 15 years old, on the young side for a member of the Class of 2019, playing against kids that are 17.
  2. LaMelo’s shot up from 5-foot-8 to 6-foot-3 in the last year and he may not be done growing just yet.
  3. Behind all the pomp and circumstance there is a set of skills that makes LaMelo a player with some real potential. He’s ranked between 7th and 21st by the major recruiting services, meaning he’s projected as a player with a pretty good shot at the NBA but a step below being a can’t-miss player. He could be D’angelo Russell. He could be Isaiah Briscoe.

Enter Tyus Jones.

(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

By any account, Jones is a terrific basketball player. He was a McDonald’s All-American and, at worst, a top ten player in his high school class. He was the starting point guard for a Duke team that won the 2015 national title. He was a one-and-done player that eventually went as a first round pick in the NBA Draft. He is one of 450 people in the world that can say that their job title is “Current NBA Player”. By definition, that makes him one of the roughly 100 best point guards on the planet. He was a multi-millionaire before he could legally buy a drink. I don’t think you can look at his career and think of him as anything other than successful, and he’s still only 21 years old.

He’s also played in just 97 games through two seasons in the NBA. He’s never started a game and is averaging just 3.8 points and 2.7 assists to date. In a league now driven by superstar point guards, he’s so far removed from being in the conversation with Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul, Damian Lillard and James Harden, John Wall and Kyrie Irving that the casual NBA observer probably hasn’t heard of him.

In the NBA, he’s ‘just a guy’ despite the fact that simply being in the NBA means that there’s nothing normal or average about his basketball ability.

Tyus Jones made it, and the truth is that LaMelo will have “made it” if he gets to the league.

It’s also true that the perception will be that LaMelo was an overhyped fraud if he ends up being nothing more than Tyus Jones through his first two seasons. If he’s not a transcendent talent, or at the very least a reliable annual pick to make the all-star team, he’s a disappointment.

And that would not be fair.

So LaVar better hope he’s right about his youngest son.

Because that is a lot of baggage to ask him to carry.