Tim Bradbury/Getty Images

The NCAA is facing an existential crisis, just not the one Mark Emmert thinks they’re facing

7 Comments

On Wednesday, Mark Emmert made the rounds on twitter with some on-the-record comments that were reported by CBS Sports.

He asked California lawmakers, who are working to make amateurism illegal in their start, to “tone down some of the rhetoric” and added that he doesn’t believe every athlete will be getting rich in college, that only “one or two will be making some significant amount of money. Nobody else will.”

These are precisely the things that the sitting president of an organization that exists almost entirely to prevent athletes from getting paid is going to say.

He job is to defend NCAA rules. His purpose in life is to be the whipping boy that hammers home talking points that are logically indefensible. What else is he supposed to say? “My salary and the salary of all the other administrators at my level would take a major hit if we actually paid the talent” probably wouldn’t play well.

So I don’t really get why there’s an uproar here.

What did you expect?

But the more that I’ve thought about this, there actually is an interesting point that Emmert makes, although I’m guessing it’s not the point that he meant to make.

Emmert called the debate over name, image and likeness rights “an existential threat” to the collegiate model and the “single biggest issue” that the NCAA has faced during his decade-long tenure as NCAA president.

And I actually believe this is true.*

*(Jerry Sandusky and Larry Nassar are bigger than college sports. Don’t conflate something as serious as serial sexual predators with things like basketball and football. Just don’t.)

Just not the way that Emmert meant it.

From September 2016 through August of 2017, the NCAA reported $1.06 billion in revenue. That year, they made $761 million off of the television rights for the NCAA tournament. In other words, roughly 75% of the NCAA’s annual revenue comes from the deal they signed with CBS and Turner to broadcast the NCAA tournament, and that number is only going to go up as the price of the rights fees goes up; in 2016, the NCAA signed an eight-year, $8.8 billion extension that runs through 2032 to a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal that ends in 2024.

Put another way, college basketball and the NCAA tournament keeps the NCAA afloat, and this isn’t exactly a secret. You think that the kids actually playing for these schools are blind to the fact that their coaches are making more than NBA coaches or that their ADs are flying private for vacation while their parents have to fly coach out of pocket to watch them play?

The movement for athlete rights has never been stronger, and the thing about basketball is that college is far from the only option that these kids have. They can go overseas and play. They can go to the G League and play. They can sit out a year and then enter the draft. They can do a year in prep school and then enter the draft. By 2022, the best young players in the country – the Zion Williamsons of the world – are going to be going straight to the NBA.

Hell, there are people on American soil right now that are trying to build an alternative option to the NCAA. We’ve written about the HBL, the Historic Basketball League, before. That league will have team in eight cities in the mid-atlantic region that will be set up to allow kids to receive a scholarship, earn a salary and access their NIL rights. They won’t have to deal with amateurism rules or worry about whether or not accepting a gift will jeopardize their eligibility. That league is set to launch in June of 2020, and with the names involved there – David West, Mitch Richmond, T.J. Warren, Terrell Owens, Darren Collison, Champ Bailey, Etan Thomas, Mahmoud Abdul Rauf – it’s not hard to imagine the concept gaining traction.

As it stands, we’re looking at about five kids every year that opt out of playing in the NCAA, and at this very moment, it’s not a huge issue. R.J. Hampton going to Australia is going to break the NCAA. Losing out on the chance to market a talent – and a viral celebrity – like LaMelo Ball isn’t ideal, but that ship sailed years ago. Arizona missing out on Terry Armstrong is barely a blip on the radar. K.J. Martin turning pro is more or less irrelevant.

Point being, there is enough talent coming through the college ranks to keep the level of play high, fans and alums interested in November and bettors losing money in March.

But what happens when, instead of just five kids a year, that number jumps to 50? Or 100?

What happens when the 15-20 best players – all the guys that are one-and-dones – in every recruiting class are going straight to the NBA instead of playing in college? And what happens if another 30-40 (or more?) of those guys are going to play in the HBL, or heading to Australia, or just opting to sign with an agent, get a cash advance and workout on their own until they have a chance to get drafted?

We’re already dealing with an extremely problematic talent drain in the sport. If you are a top 100 draft prospect, you are turning pro. There were 87 players with eligibility remaining that turned pro after the 2018-19 season. There are 60 draft spots.

My four-year old son can do that math.

At least the NCAA had a chance to get those guys on campus for a few years.

What happens when those players stop going the NCAA route? What happens if it becomes clear that playing in the NBL’s Next Stars program becomes the best route to get drafted for future first round picks? What happens if the HBL takes off the same way that the Big 3 or The Basketball Tournament has taken off?

March Madness is the NCAA’s cash cow.

What happens when that cow’s milk is no longer as valuable as it was before?

That’s what the NCAA needs to be concerned about.

That is the existential crisis that the NCAA is facing.

And it doesn’t seem like Mark Emmert realizes it.

TCU drops No. 17 West Virginia in overtime

AP Photo/Ron Jenkins
Leave a comment

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Desmond Bane didn’t think a foul should have been called against him on the shot that appeared to be a game-winner in regulation for TCU.

The Horned Frogs rendered the whistle moot in overtime.

Kevin Samuel scored six of his 19 points in the extra period and TCU extended No. 17 West Virginia’s Big 12 road woes with a 67-60 victory over the Mountaineers on Saturday.

Bane sent the crowd into a frenzy on a driving layup with 0.9 seconds left, but the senior guard was called for pushing off on Jermaine Haley as he went up for the shot after racing the length of the floor off a West Virginia miss.

RELATED: Latest CBT Bubble Watch | Bracketology

“I mean, I did,” Bane said when asked if he pushed off. “But he bumped me first, for one, and for two, you just don’t call that with 0.9 seconds left. But, it is what it is.”

Jaire Grayer broke the 55-all tie with his only 3-pointer to start overtime, and Samuel hit two buckets and two free throws as the Mountaineers lost their fifth straight road conference game. They beat TCU by 32 at home in January.

“Haven’t made shots,” said coach Bob Huggins, who stayed tied with Dean Smith for sixth on the all-time coaching victories list at 879. “But I mean, we haven’t made shots at home either.”

Derek Culver had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Taz Sherman scored 16 points for West Virginia (19-8, 7-7).

Samuel made all seven of his shots and had eight rebounds with five blocks, RJ Nembhard scored 16 points and Bane finished with eight points and 10 assists in TCU’s second home victory over a ranked team. The Horned Frogs beat then-No. 18 Texas Tech in January.

“I hope it gives some of the younger guys confidence that it can be done,” said Bane, a senior. “We went out there and got flat out embarrassed in West Virginia. To come back here and beat that team is huge for us. Hopefully we can build off this moving forward.”

West Virginia finished 2 of 17 from 3-point range, including an air ball on an open look for Sean McNeil with the Mountaineers down by three in overtime.

McNeil also had a desperation heave from past half court bounce off the back of the rim when West Virginia managed to get off a shot after the call against Bane.

The Mountaineers missed four straight free throws late before Oscar Tshiebwe made the second of two for a 55-all tie with 1:03 to go. Miles McBride couldn’t finish off a possible three-point play, and Culver missed two free throws.

Culver scored six points and Sherman had the last five on a 15-1 run that put West Virginia up 25-15 in the first half.

TCU later answered with a 19-2 run that carried over halftime, turning a 31-21 deficit into a 40-33 lead when Nembhard hit a 3-pointer.

BIG PICTURE

West Virginia: Tshiebwe, the freshman leading West Virginia in scoring, was held to just one point and has attempted just six shots, with one make, the past two games. The Big 12’s second-leading rebounder wasn’t as much of a factor inside either, finishing with five boards after six straight games with at least eight.

“We sat him most of the first half because he just wouldn’t get back to his man,” Huggins said.

TCU: The slide toward the bottom of the standings has been steady since the Horned Frogs started 3-0 in the Big 12 after getting voted last by league coaches in a preseason poll. But this is quite a boost coming off seven losses in eight games.

ARGENTINE’S CONCUSSION

The Horned Frogs scored the final eight points of the first half, starting with a 3-pointer from guard Francisco Farabello. The only points for the freshman from Argentina came moments before he ended up on the floor holding his head following a scramble for a loose ball. Farabello had to be helped to the locker room and was ruled out with a concussion.

KNOCKING DOWN THE FREEBIES

Samuel, a 34% shooter on free throws coming into the game, was 5 of 6 from the line. The two in overtime put the Horned Frogs up six with 1:19 remaining.

“Obviously Kevin was terrific, so happy for him, how hard he’s worked on his free throws,” coach Jamie Dixon said. “And to go and knock those down, to be 5 of 6 at the end of the day is a great thing.”

UP NEXT

West Virginia: At Texas on Monday.

TCU: At Iowa State on Tuesday.

For more AP college basketball coverage: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Memphis keeps at-large hopes alive with win over No. 22 Houston

AP Photo/Karen Pulfer Focht
Leave a comment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) Precious Achiuwa scored 10 points, including the go-ahead free throw with 28.2 seconds left, and Memphis beat No. 22 Houston 60-59 on Saturday.

Malcolm Dandridge scored 12 points and Lester Quinones and Tyler Harris had 10 points apiece as Memphis (19-8, 8-6 American Athletic Conference) won its second straight.

Caleb Mills led Houston (21-7, 11-4) with 21 points and Marcus Sasser added 18 points for the Cougars. Mills’ jumper with 4 seconds left was off the mark. Houston missed its last four shots.

Houston was without guard Quentin Grimes, its second-leading scorer at 11.8 points per game. Grimes was dealing with a hip pointer.

The Cougars were forced to play catch-up for much of the game.

RELATED: Latest CBT Bubble Watch | Bracketology

Sasser’s 3-pointer gave Houston the lead with just under seven minutes left. It started a string of nine straight points for Sasser.

The teams exchanged leads down the stretch. Mills converted a pair of free throws with 47 seconds left to tie it at 59. Achiuwa then made the second of two free throws for the final margin.

By the midway point of the first half, neither team was shooting well. Memphis, which struggled early, managed to take the lead.

The Tigers put together enough of an offensive push during the middle stages of the first half to build the lead to eight points on a couple of occasions. Memphis led 27-23 at halftime with Houston shooting 26% from the field.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: The Cougars improved their shooting in the second half, going 12 for 26 (46%), but went cold again in the final minutes.

Memphis: The Tigers needed the win since they are considered outside looking in on the NCAA Tournament. Memphis struggled from the field, especially Achiuwa, Boogie Ellis and Quinones, who combined to go 3 of 24. Dandridge made all five of his shots.

UP NEXT

Houston: Hosts Cincinnati on March 1.

Memphis: At SMU on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegesbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Pipkins scores 24, Providence beats No. 19 Marquette 84-72

AP Photo
Leave a comment

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Luwane Pipkins scored 24 points and David Duke had 15 to lead Providence to an 84-72 victory over No. 19 Marquette on Saturday, the Friars’ third straight victory – all over ranked teams.

Markus Howard scored 38 points for Marquette, which lost its third straight game. Howard shot 10 for 25 from the field and had just one assist while committing four of the Golden Eagles’ (17-9, 7-7 Big East) 18 turnovers.

RELATED: Latest CBT Bubble Watch | Bracketology

AJ Reeves added 11 points and three others had 10 for Providence (16-12, 9-6), which held a double-digit lead for all but 39 seconds of the game’s last 26:29. Trailing 71-50, the Golden Eagles scored seven points in a row, but they could get no closer.

Providence led by as many as 17 in the first half thanks to its 3-point shooting (8 for 15) and 17 points from Pipkins. After Marquette cut the lead to nine, 52-43, midway through the second, the Friars scored six straight points.

It was 62-50 when Providence scored nine in a row, the last five on a basket and a 3-point play by Duke.

BIG PICTURE

Marquette: The Golden Eagles dipped into The Associated Press Top 25 at No. 18 on Feb. 10 and have lost three in a row. Though the first two were to higher-ranked teams, the loss at Providence will certainly drop them out of the rankings

Providence: The Friars are fourth in the Big East and the top unranked team in the conference. They are 4-4 against ranked teams this season.

UP NEXT

Marquette: Hosts Georgetown on Wednesday.

Providence: At No. 12 Villanova on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Dominant Doke leads No. 3 Kansas past No. 1 Baylor

AP Photo
Leave a comment

Udoka Azubuike wasn’t hard to find this time around.

The 7-footer put together the best performance of his college basketball career on Saturday afternoon, going for 23 points, 19 boards and three blocks while shooting 11-for-13 from the floor as No. 3 Kansas went into the Ferrell Center and staked their claim to the title fo the best team in college basketball with a 64-61 win over No. 1 Baylor.

After Baylor scored the first five points of the game, Kansas answered with a 9-0 run and never looked back. The Bears were only able to draw level once for the remainder of the game, and while Ochai Agbaji managed to make things interesting down the stretch with a late turnover against Baylor’s pressure, the Jayhawks were more or less in control throughout.

RELATED: Latest CBT Bubble Watch | Bracketology

And the reason for that is simple: Udoka Azubuike.

The first time that these two teams squared off back in January, when Baylor landed the program’s first-ever win in Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Azubuike was invisible, especially offensively. He finished with just six points on 3-for-6 shooting from the field largely due to the fact that Baylor’s defense is uniquely designed to take away players in the post. The Bears fronted Azubuike, they played off of non-shooters on the weak side of the floor and they dared Kansas to beat them from the perimeter.

It did not go well.

But giving Bill Self four days to devise and implement a game-plan is never going to work out well for anyone, and Baylor learned that the hard way.

And the tweak, truthfully, really quite simple:Mi

Middle ball-screens.

This had an impact on two things on that end of the floor. For starters, it made it difficult for Baylor to influence which way the ball-handler would come off of the screen. You can’t ‘ice’ a ball-screen in the middle of the floor. You can ‘weak’ it — forcing the ball-handler to come off of the screen going to his weak hand — but this is risky, especially with a point guard that is as quick as Dotson is. He was allowed to get a full head of steam going with only Freddie Gillespie between him and the rim. That’s a good thing for Kansas.

The other part of this is that since the ball is in the middle of the floor, and since Baylor cannot make the offense go the way they want them to go, it’s harder to sell out as a helper. This creates open lanes for Azubuike to run to the rim, and there is no one in college basketball that is a better lob-catcher in traffic than Azubuike.

“He was great and controlled the paint,” Self told reporters after the game. “That was about as well overall as I’ve seen him play.”

And he’s not wrong.

Azubuike was a titan on the offensive end of the floor.

But he was just as good defensively.

Baylor’s guards were never able to get into a rhythm on Saturday afternoon. MaCio Teague hit a couple of threes, but for the most part, he was a non-entity. Matthew Mayer scored eight straight points in the first half but was invisible outside of that run. Devonte Bandoo took one shot. Davion Mitchell shot 2-for-11 from the floor, and while Jared Butler went for 19 points and six assists, he needed 18 shots to get there.

Much of the credit there belongs to the perimeter defenders on this Kansas roster. Marcus Garrett is a walking, talking, ball-hawking demolition derby. He’ll take the soul of someone that is careless with their dribble, and Mitchell learned that the hard way. Devon Dotson more than held his own, while Ochai Agbaji, Isaiah Moss and Christian Braun did just enough to keep whoever they were guarding from getting a clean look. The Jayhawk ball pressure was, throughout the game, something else.

But the reason that ball-pressure was possible is because of the human eraser at the five. Doke owned the paint. He only finished with three blocks, but that’s because Baylor opted to settle for jumpers instead of trying to challenge the big fella. His ability to move his feet eliminated Baylor’s ball-screen offense:

All told, when you factor in both ends of the floor, this was one of the single-most dominant performances that I can remember seeing this season.

Kansas is going to enter this upcoming week as the biggest talking point in the sport.

Is this the best team in the country?

Can the Jayhawks win a national title this year?

Are they actually the favorite to cut down the nets?

And the reason that the answer to all three of those questions is ‘yes’ is the presence of Udoka Azubuike.

The more interesting question that we should be having has less to do with Kansas as a team and more to do with Udoka Azubuike: Is he, and not Dotson, the All-American on this Kansas team?

And where should he factor in the Player of the Year race?

Auburn’s Jaylin Williams throws himself a lob off the backboard (VIDEO)

Screengrab via CBS
Leave a comment

It’s only 1 p.m. but we have already seen the play of the day: Auburn forward Jaylin Williams through himself a lob off the backboard that was so impressive it had Clark Kellogg making up words to describe it: