The Morning Mix

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An interesting-read on why the one-and-done rule is making a mess of basketball in general. Speaking of which, Bobby Knight took the time to blast John Calipari’s method. Typical

Eric Crawford has some great suggestions on how the NCAA tournament experience can improve (The last one is crucial)

– remember when Buzz Williams benched a bunch of players during the late regular season for disciplinary reasons. We found out during the NCAA tournament that it had to do with trying to enter a bar underage. Well it turns out that six players were involved in a bar fight in which 11 squad cars were called to the scene. That’s a lot of squad cars

– Anthony Davis will only spend one season at Kentucky, but does he deserve to have his jersey retired at Rupp Arena?

– Speaking of Davis, he was on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Thursday, and he absolutely killed it. We saw very little character or personality from him during the season, but well he was focused on winning a title. But man, he was hysterical on Kimmel. (Make sure you get a chance to watch the whole segment)

– We indicated last week that Georgia State is looking to leave the CAA and join the Sun Belt, and it looks like the move will happen this week

– When a 50/50 NBA recruit decides to stay in school for an extra year, they are often rewarded with greatness, so says Gary Parrish

– The rosters and schedules for the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament has been announced

– The Duquesne coaching search is coming to an end, and Jim Ferry, head coach at LIU-Brooklyn, has entered the race as a darkhorse candidate

– Former-Illinois head coach Bruce Weber took out a full-page ad thanking fans for supporting him when he was head coach in Champaign

– New Mexico State head coach Marvin Menzies is being recruited by Colorado State to be the rams next head coach. But NMSU is looking to sweeten the pot in order to get their head coach to stay

– LSU head coach Trent Johnson is leaving in order to take over the head coaching position at TCU. LSU has now lost two key players from this past seasons team. Where will the tigers go from here?

– Do coaching contracts mean anything to coaches? It seems like coaches are more than willing to opt out of lucrative deals if they see a new situation become available

A solid Q&A with new Illinois head coach John Groce. Make sure you read the part where he talks about trying to recruit in the Chicago-area

– In case you missed it, Florida International fired Isaiah Thomas after three sub-par seasons as the Panthers head coach. Thomas called it “The most surprised he’s ever been in his life regarding a basketball decision”. Dominique Ferguson, the Panther’s star sophomore took to twitter to defend his recently dismissed head coach. A solid-read on why “Zeke” was a failure at FIU

– Kansas’ forward Thomas Robinson will make his NBA decision later today, but it’s being reported that T-Rob will make the leap to the NBA

– Two Houston players, Alandise Harris and Kirk Van Slyke have decided to transfer out of school

– Loyola (MD) sophomore guard Justin Drummond announced that he is transferring. The Greyhounds won the MAAC Tournament and made their first NCAA tournament appearance in over a decade.

– Alabama forward Tony Mitchell, the best dunker in the SEC, is leaving school He was suspended for the two months of the season for disciplinary reasons. But where will T-Mitch land?

– Texas A&M forward Kris Middleton will enter the NBA draft, despite a sub-par season in which he was sidelined with a knee injury. Did the wing forward make the right decision?

– Ohio State got some great news this weekend. Even though Jared Sullinger will leave for the NBA draft, DeShaun Thomas will return for his junior season. The forward played exceptionally well during the tournament and will be the focal point of the Buckeye’s offense next season

– Rodney Hood has decided to transfer out of Mississippi State. This means that new head coach Rick Ray will have to start from scratch, as five of the Bulldog’s top seven scorers are either leaving for the NBA, transferring or graduating

– South Carolina forward Anthony Gill is debating the thought of transferring. Playing for Frank Martin is no easy task, but playing for a hard-nosed coach like Martin is usually good for building mental toughness, discipline and character

– Alex Oriakhi is still trying to decide which school he wants to transfer to. The list is rather long, and if he choses to major in a field of study not offered at UConn, he can enroll at an SEC school. KSR’s Drew Franklin details which majors Oriakhi could get his degree in if he went to Kentucky (This should end up being the funniest thing you read all day). But as the UConn Blog suggests, Oriakhi probably shouldn’t transfer to the same school Nerlens Noel goes to

– Speaking of UConn, we still haven’t heard anything from Jeremy Lamb or Andre Drummond about their NBA early entry statuses

– Connecticut politicians plan on magnifying the” unfair” postseason suspension of UConn’s basketball team next season

– Central Michigan star Trey Zeigler has decided to attend Pittsburgh. The sophomore guard asked for his release after the school fire his father Ernie, the head basketball coach

– it was a bizarre week for the athletic department at Howard, but it seems as though all student-athletes have been reinstated 

The not-top-10 plays from the 2011-2012 college basketball season (How the “Crosstown Brawl” didn’t get a mention is absolutely ridiculous)

ACC coaches back idea of all D-I teams in 2021 NCAA tourney

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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RALEIGH, N.C. — Atlantic Coast Conference men’s basketball coaches are pushing the idea of having next year’s NCAA Tournament include all eligible teams in Division I.

Numerous league schools and coaches released statements Wednesday after the coaches held their weekly call to discuss the proposal, which was first reported by Stadium. There are 357 Division I programs in the country, with NCAA spokeswoman Meghan Durham saying 346 of those are eligible to play in next year’s tournament.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said the ACC coaches are “united in strongly pursuing this” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that led to the cancellation of last year’s NCAA Tournament days before the field of 68 was set to be revealed. Multiple coaches said creating an everybody-gets-in format would be an incentive for schools as they create the safest conditions possible for returning to play.

“This is not a regular season,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. “It is clearly an irregular season that will require something different. Our sport needs to be agile and creative. Most importantly, an all-inclusive postseason tournament will allow a unique and unprecedented opportunity for every team and every student-athlete to compete for a national championship.”

Durham declined comment specifically on the proposal in an email to The Associated Press on Wednesday. Last month, NCAA senior vice president of basketball Dan Gavitt said the Division I oversight committees for men’s and women’s basketball planned to announce by mid-September plans for whether the season and preseason practice would start on time or require a delay due to the pandemic.

Louisville coach Chris Mack said the proposal would provide flexibility during the season without mandating a number of nonconference or conference games to be played. And the league has already experienced that scheduling challenge with football and other fall sports.

The ACC announced in July that it would have each football team play 10 league games – including the addition of Notre Dame as a football member this year – and one nonconference game to be played in the home state of the member school. Those schedules were released in early August, slightly more than a month before Thursday’s UAB-Miami game kicks off the season.

“This is a time to think differently,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said, adding: “After all these players have been through, what better way to reward them than the opportunity to compete in an unprecedented version of the most exciting event in sports.”

College basketball floats idea of bubbles for safe season

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The NBA bubble has held. So has the NHL’s double bubble. The WNBA and MLS, no leaks.

In this unprecedented landscape of sports in a pandemic world, one indisputable fact has emerged: bubbles work.

Thousands of tests, minimal to no positive COVID-19 test results.

So as the NCAA gets set announce its plans for the 2020-21 college basketball season, there are clear precedents and blueprints in place should it decide to go the bubble route.

“It’s certainly viable,” said Mark Starsiak, vice president of sports at Intersport, a Chicago-based sports marketing and media agency, “From a basketball standpoint, I think we can follow those models.”

The college football restart has been scattershot. The season has already started, yet 53 FBS schools have the pads and helmets hanging on hooks while waiting for better pandemic news.

A much more unified plan is in place for the college basketball season.

The NCAA is hoping to start the season in late November/early December, with a vote by the Division I council expected Sept. 16.

A partnership between the Pac-12 and Quidel Corp. to potentially do daily, rapid COVID-19 tests on athletes should help smooth a return to the court.

The question then becomes: What’s the best way to safely play basketball again?

Bubbles may be the answer.

While bubble football would be next to impossible logistically, basketball could fit nicely.

The travel parties are much smaller and college basketball already has plenty of multiple-team events, from holiday and conference tournaments to the NCAA Tournament. Add the effective safety measures of the pro leagues, find suitable sites and bubble basketball could work.

The NCAA is already looking at it, reportedly filing a trademark for the phrase “Battle in the Bubble.” Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont also said there have been preliminary talks for bubble basketball at the Mohegan Sun resort.

“The idea of a bubble would be a really good idea, just to isolate all the teams who want to play against each other in that bubble and keep things safe, keep away from the public and keep us in our own area where we’re able to play the game the right way and safely,” Duke sophomore forward Wendell Moore, Jr. said.

A big key will be finding the right places to bubble.

The NBA has the ideal setup at Disney World, but college basketball might be better suited to follow the NHL’s lead.

Hockey’s two bubbles – Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta – cordoned off areas enclosing the arena and several nearby hotels. All personnel entering are tested and strict protocols are in place for vendors delivering food and packages into the bubbles.

Similar bubbles for college basketball could be set up at smaller resorts, cities with arenas and hotels nearby, or Division II or III schools with arenas not being used during the pandemic.

The NCAA could set up pods of multiple nonconference teams, conference tournaments could be held in similar fashion and so could the NCAA Tournament.

In other words, basketball bubbles could pop up all over the country.

“Maybe do it for maybe a week or two at a time, playing a certain amount of games and getting retested after you come back or something like that,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said. “It’s possible, but it’s not going to be easy.”

Pulling off a college basketball bubble, however, comes with a caveat.

NCAA players are considered students, so academics would have to be part of the equation.

Division I players are already accustomed to doing school work on the road and the majority take primarily online classes. To make the bubbles work, socially distant space would have to be carved out for the players to take their classes and study.

The programs may also have to rethink the size of their traveling parties.

“Discussions about the right amount of tutors or academic staff would need to take place,” said Starsiak, who has operated high-level sports and entertainment events for 15 years. ”

You have to look at, do we need three managers this time around? No, probably not. Do you take two and have a tutor or an academic come with us? Yeah, I think you could. I think there’s a way to kind of combine both things to have some live, in-person resources.”

The NCAA is going to do everything possible to have a basketball season.

The pandemic wiped out the NCAA Tournament last spring and the NCAA collected $270 million in cancellation insurance instead of the $1 billion TV payout it normally gets. A second straight year without March Madness could be devastating.

Bubbles may be the way to go.

‘Father of the Final Four’ Tom Jernestedt dies at 75

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INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Jernstedt, a member of the Naismith Hall of Fame for his contributions to college basketball and the NCAA Tournament, has died. He was 75.

The NCAA said Sunday Jernstedt died this weekend.

Nicknamed “Father of the Final Four,” Jernstedt has widely been credited with transforming the NCAA Tournament into the billion-dollar March Madness it has become today.

“A decade after his departure from the NCAA, Tom Jernstedt’s fingertips remain visible during March Madness and the Final Four,” NCAA senior vice president Dan Gavitt said in a statement. “His innovation and superb ability to develop relationships turned a basketball tournament into a three-week phenomenon that became a global event.”

A former back-up quarterback, Jernstedt worked his first Final Four in 1973 and helped push the growth of the NCAA Tournament from 25 teams to the 68, anything-can-happen bonanza held every spring.

Jernstedt helped the NCAA increase its television contract from just over $1 million to more than $10 billion when he left in 2011. He served as president of USA Basketball, was a member of the College Football Selection committee and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame as a contributor in 2017.

“Tom Jernstedt was a humble and unsung steward of the game,” John L. Doleva, president and CEO of the Basketball Hall of Fame, said in a statement. “Under his direction, the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament grew into a phenomenon that brings college basketball fans together on a global scale. He will forever be remembered as the Father of the Final Four and one of the most respected leaders in basketball.”

Jernstedt established himself as a team leader despite being a backup quarterback at Oregon from 1964-66 and went on to serve as the Ducks’ events manager. He joined the NCAA in 1972 and spent 38 years with the organization.

“Tom served as a friend and mentor to countless people in and around collegiate athletics, and I’m proud to be among that vast group of people,” Gavitt said. “His legacy within the NCAA and its membership, and his impact on the sport of college basketball, is eternal. We extend our deepest condolences to Tom’s family.”

Aztecs extend Brian Dutcher’s contract 3 years through 2026

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — San Diego State basketball coach Brian Dutcher has signed a three-year contract extension through the 2025-26 season.

Dutcher signed the deal following one of the most successful seasons in school history. The Aztecs went 30-2, won the Mountain West regular-season title and were expected to be a No. 1 or 2 seed before the NCAA Tournament was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. They opened the season 26-0 and were the nation’s last undefeated team.

“Having spent more than 20 years at San Diego State University I understand what a special place this is,” Dutcher said in a statement Friday. “I am humbled and honored to continue to represent SDSU and Aztec Basketball as its head coach.”

Dutcher is 73-26 in three seasons, the most victories by an Aztecs coach in his first three seasons. He spent 18 seasons as Steve Fisher’s top assistant, including six as associate head coach/head coach in waiting. He took over as head coach after Fisher retired following the 2016-17 season. The Aztecs reached the NCAA Tournament in his first season.

Before that, he spent 10 seasons with Fisher at Michigan. In Dutcher’s first season with the Wolverines, Fisher was promoted to interim head coach on the eve of the NCAA Tournament and won the national championship.

Indiana halts all voluntary workouts

Michelle Pemberton/IndyStar
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Indiana has halted all voluntary workouts indefinitely for its men’s basketball, field hockey, men’s soccer and wrestling teams after 14 participants tested positive for the coronavirus this week.

The Hoosiers did not identify which teams recorded the positive tests. The football team, like other Big Ten programs, is not playing this fall. Indiana said 63 positives have been reported from more than 1,400 tests of athletes, coaches and staff since June 8.

“Our athletic program is following strict protocols during these unprecedented times and we strongly support our medical staff as we try and mitigate this issue,” men’s basketball coach Archie Miller said.