Thursday, July 27, 2017

Jeff Hathaway named chair of NCAA men's hoops oversight committee. Seriously.

I've got nothin'. Just read the press release (and notice how his tenure at UConn is never mentioned):

Hofstra University Vice President and Director of Athletics Jeffrey A. Hathaway has been named the chair of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Oversight Committee. He began his tenure on July 1.

Hathaway has extensive experience on the national level as he has served as the vice-chair of this important committee since July, 2015. Hathaway will serve as the chair from July, 2017 until June, 2019.

"On behalf of the Colonial Athletic Association I would like to congratulate Jeff on being named the chair of the NCAA Men's Basketball Oversight Committee," commented CAA Commissioner Joe D'Antonio. "Jeff has done an outstanding job as the Conference's representative to the NCAA Division I Council, and I know he will tackle the challenges of this new position with the same level of enthusiasm and thoroughness. The NCAA Division I membership will benefit from Jeff's attention to detail, experience and overall knowledge of the college basketball landscape."

The Men's Basketball Oversight Committee ensures that appropriate oversight of men's basketball is maintained, will enhance the development and public perception of the sport and make recommendations related to regular-season and postseason men's basketball. The committee will prioritize enhancement of the student-athlete educational experience (academically and athletically), and in doing so, promote student-athletes' personal growth and leadership development.

The Men's Basketball Oversight Committee also supervises qualifications and/or selection procedures for the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship. The committee will review recommendations from the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee and process other issues related to the administration of the championship. The committee assumed many of the duties of the former NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Issues Committee and will provide direction to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Rules Committee regarding playing rules. The committee will be comprised of representatives from each divisional subgroup.

The Men's Basketball Oversight Committee shall consist of 12 voting members and four nonvoting members. The voting members shall include four Council members, seven non-Council members and one men's basketball Student-Athlete Advisory Committee member. The Council members shall be comprised of at least one representative from the FBS conferences, FCS conferences and Division I subdivision conferences. The nonvoting members shall be comprised of the chair of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee, the executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, a faculty athletics representative and a men's basketball student-athlete.

Some of the direct responsibilities of the Oversight Committee include:
- Maintain appropriate oversight of Division I men's basketball;
- Enhance the development and public perception of Division I men's basketball;
- Make recommendations related to regular season and postseason Division I men's basketball;
- Prioritize enhancement of the student-athlete educational experience (academically and athletically), and in doing so, promote student-athletes' personal growth and leadership development;
- Supervise qualifications and/or selection procedures for the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship;
- Review recommendations from the Men's Basketball Committee and process other issues related to the administration of the championship;
- Provide direction to the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Rules Committee regarding playing rules; and
- Make recommendations on policy issues in Division I men's basketball that are unrelated to legislative and playing rule changes.
- Also oversees the newly-formed NCAA Men's Basketball Competition Committee.
- Work with other basketball organizations such as the National Basketball Association, USA Basketball and the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

Hathaway just concluded his fifth year at the helm of the Hofstra Department of Athletics. The former chairman of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Committee, Hathaway also serves on the NCAA Council as the Colonial Athletic Association representative. In his new role, he is also an ex-officio member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches Board of Directors.

A three-time Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year Award recipient, Hathaway has seen 11 Pride teams qualify for the NCAA Tournament, seven capture CAA titles, seven earn regular season CAA titles and four other make postseason appearances (National Invitation Tournament and Women's National Invitation Tournament and College Basketball Invitational).


Monday, July 24, 2017

A midsummer's look at the American Athletic Conference

Yes, the AAC just had its football media day last week in beautiful Newport, R.I. (is there a better media day location anywhere, for any sport?).

Still, it's never too early to take a sneak peak ahead to basketball season. So we did that, with a midsummer's look at what the AAC could offer this winter in men's hoops.

Here's what we see:


1. Wichita State: Top eight scorers and all five starters are back from 31-5 MVC champs. Shockers may have league's best overall player in PG Landry Shamet, shooter in Conner Frankamp and on-the-ball defender in Zach Brown. Markus McDuffie is a tough power forward from St. Anthony's High (R.I.P.). They outrebounded foes by 9 per game last year, second in the nation. They'll be rude newcomers to their new league.

2. Cincinnati: Top three scorers (Jacob Evans, Kyle Washington, Gary Clark) are back. Jarron Cumberland is a bull. Troy Caupain is gone, but let's face it, he was a bit disappointing last year. Mick Cronin loves East Hartford's Caine Broome, who'll replace Caupain at point. Washington and Clark will somehow knock down a bunch of 3's against UConn. The Bearcats will make their eighth straight tourney and be serious challengers to WSU for league title.


3. SMU: Mustangs lost three players to the NBA, including AAC player (and scholar-athlete!) of the year, Semi Ojeleye. But Shake Milton is getting some first-round NBA draft buzz, and the 'Stangs get a true point guard in Arkansas transfer Jimmy Whitt. They'll also (somehow) have former USF high-scorer Jahmal McMurray by Christmas. He left USF last December, transferred to a junior college but didn't play. Oh, and Tim Jankovich can coach with anyone.

4. UCF: You know 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall. You may remember B.J. Taylor, who averaged 17.6 per game last season after sitting out a year with injury, and A.J. Davis, who led the team in scoring two years ago while Taylor was out. You'll soon get to know Aubrey Dawkins, the coach's son who's a dynamic athlete and likely would be starting for Michigan this season had he not transferred to play for pop.


5. UConn:
Biggest mystery team. There's great talent (Jalen Adams, Terry Larrier, Alterique Gilbert) and great unknown (the frontcourt). If the Huskies can stay healthy (no given considering the injury histories of Gilbert, Larrier and Mamadou Diarra) and get something from at least a couple of a group of young, raw bigs, they'll easily be in the NCAA tourney picture. If not ... that coaching seat could get hot.

6. Temple: Owls have about 70 percent of their scoring back, not to mention Josh Brown, who missed most of last season due to injury. Obi Enechionyia is an all-around talent, and Fran Dunphy can flat-out coach. Expect a nice bounce-back season.

7. Houston: UConn-killer Damyean Dotson is gone to the NBA, but AAC scoring champ Rob Gray, Jr. is back and Kelvin Sampson can coach. Once again, he's got a whole slew of JUCO transfers to integrate into the system. If Sampson can do that, Cougars could definitely finish higher.

8. Tulsa: Golden Hurricane entered last season with almost no one back from NCAA tourney team. This year, they've got nearly everyone back from a 15-17 team.


9. East Carolina: Jeff Lebo's back from season-ending hip surgery, but he'll be on coaching hot seat if Pirates don't show improvement. With Kentrell Barkley, B.J. Tyson and Jeremy Sheppard back, they just might.

10. Tulane: Green Wave have gone 3-15 in league play last two seasons. Don't expect that this year. A second year under Mike Dunleavy, Sr. should mean even more improvement from Cameron Reynolds, who was the league's most improved player last year, along with Melvin Frazier.


11. Memphis: Odd to put Tigers this low, but they suffered a mass exodus over the offseason that made even UConn's look tame. The Lawson Bros. (Dedric and K.J.) are gone, as are Markel Crawford and five others. Tubby Smith will have to start from scratch, though he's had success doing that in the past.

12. South Florida: Bulls had eight players leave the program in offseason. That doesn't even include coach Orlando Antigua, fired in January, or leading scorer Jahmal McMurray, who left in December and will be hitting 3's for SMU this winter. Former Georgia Tech coach Brian Gregory takes over. Good luck.


G Landry Shamet, Wichita State          6-4      188      R-So.
G Shake Milton, SMU  6-6      205      Jr.
G Jalen Adams, UConn           6-3      195      Jr.
G Rob Gray, Jr. Houston         6-2       185      R-Sr.
F Kyle Washington, Cincinnati            6-9       230      Sr.

G Jacob Evans, Cincinnati       6-6       210      Jr.
G B.J. Taylor, UCF      6-2       200     R-Sr.
F Markis McDuffie, Wichita State       6-8      212      Jr.
F Gary Clark, Cincinnati          6-8       225      Sr.
C Tacko Fall, UCF       7-6       290     Sr.

G Obi Enechionyia, Temple    6-10     220      Sr.
G Terry Larrier, UConn           6-8      193      R-Jr.
G Conner Frankamp, Wichita State      6-1      172      R-Sr.
F Cameron Reynolds, Tulane 6-7       215     R-Sr.
F Junior Etou, Tulsa     6-8       240      R-Sr..

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Landry Shamet, Wichita State. Tough one to call, but we'll go with (probably) the best player on (probably) the best team. Turning point in Shockers' season last year was when Gregg Marshall moved Shamet from shooting guard to point and inserted Conner Frankamp at two-guard after loss to Illinois State. Shockers didn't lose again until NCAA tourney second round, to Kentucky.
Runner-up: Shake Milton, SMU. In the running: Kyle Washington, Cincinnati; Jalen Adams, UConn; B.J. Taylor, UCF; Gary Clark, Cincinnati; Rob Gray, Jr., Houston.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Alterique Gilbert, UConn. By AAC standards, this means best freshman or redshirt freshman (after all, Memphis's K.J. Lawson won last year despite playing 10 games the year before). Gilbert is a redshirt after missing all but first 2 1/2 games last season.
Runner-up: William Douglas, SMU. In the running: Cedrick Alley, Jr., Houston.

NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Aubrey Dawkins, UCF.This means any new player to the league, including grad transfers, regular transfers or JUCO transfers. Johnny's son was known for his acrobatic dunks at Michigan and has the type of athleticism not often seen in the AAC.
Runner-up: Caine Broome, Cincinnati.

DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Tacko Fall, UCF. It's his to lose, after winning it last season. He'll surely lead league in blocked shots, which is usually what seals the deal. Of course, Cincy's Gary Clark won it two years ago.
Runner-up: Clark, Cincinnati. In the running: Zach Brown, Wichita State.

BEST SHOOTER: Wichita State's Conner Frankamp shot 44 percent from 3 last year, just a snooch ahead of teammate Landry Shamet's 43.9 percent. Coach, these dudes can shoot.

BEST ATHLETE: Aren't we all a little excited to see UConn's Kwintin Williams and his 44-inch vertical? I know I am.
Runner-up: Aubrey Dawkins, UCF.

BEST CONNECTICUT NATIVE: Caine Broome, Cincinnati. He had the most points in the nation after his first two years at Sacred Heart, but Mick Cronin loves the idea of moving him to point guard this season. Also, with Steve Enoch's transfer from UConn to Louisville, he's the only Nutmegger left in the league, at least on scholarship. I guess he beats out Christian Foxen or Restinal Lomotey.

HOTTEST COACH'S SEAT: ECU's Jeff Lebo may have had a bit of a reprieve after missing second half of last season for hip surgery. He's got to show improvement.

BEST B.J.B.J. Taylor led UCF in scoring as a freshman, sat out his sophomore year with an injury but returned and pumped home 17.4 ppg last season. He edges out ECU's B.J. Tyson, who led the Pirates in scoring as a freshman and sophomore before being slowed by a stress reaction injury much of last season.

BEST MAMADOU DIARRA: Or Mamoudou Diarra, as the Cincinnati freshman spells it. The league leads the nation in Mamadou (Mamoudou) Diarras, that's for sure. In fact, UConn alone nearly led the nation, until Mamoudou Diarra, a Washington transfer, picked the Bearcats over the Huskies. We'll go with UConn's Mamadou Diarra as the best, for now, providing his knees are healthy. He could be the rebounding force the Huskies very much need this season.
Runner-up: Duh.

BEST NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE: UConn plays in the best preseason tournament, the PK80 Invitational, and will also play Arizona and Auburn on the road, Syracuse at Madison Square Garden and Villanova at home. 
Runner-up: Temple, which plays in the Charleston Classic, plays at Georgia and hosts both Wisconsin and Villanova. In the running: Cincinnati plays at Xavier and UCLA, hosts Mississippi State, faces Florida in Newark, N.J. and plays in a weak tourney in Grand Cayman. Wichita State plays in a decent Maui Invitational, hosts Oklahoma and plays at Baylor and Oklahoma State. SMU is in the Battle 4 Atlantis, hosts USC and is at TCU. Tulane is at North Carolina. Memphis plays Louisville at MSG. Houston is in a weak Paradise Jam, is at LSU and plays Providence at Mohegan Sun. 

TOUGHEST ROAD SCHEDULE: That's easy - Cincinnati and Houston. Why? Because all their home games will be on the "road," so to speak. With renovations on Cincy's Fifth Third Arena, the Bearcats will play all their home games on the Northern Kentucky Unversity campus about 10 miles away. Meanwhile, $60 million in renovations to Hofheinz Pavilion (soon to be known as the Fertitta Center) will have Houston playing most of its games on the Texas Southern campus, with a few likely at the downtown Toyota Center, home of the Rockets.
In reality: UConn.


  • Terrence Samuel, who helped UConn win a national title as a back-up point guard in 2014, is back in the AAC with South Florida. He spent the past three years at Penn State. Should get a nice ovation from UConn fans when Bulls come to Hartford or Storrs this season.
  • Donnie Jones, former UCF head coach, is now an assistant on Gregg Marshall's staff at Wake Forest. Jones was fired during 2016 AAC tourney (which was in Orlando, no less!). Shockers will visit UCF's CFE Arena, but Jones was already there last winter while scouting for the Clippers.
  • Shaq. With the recent departures from the league of Shaq Goodwin (Memphis), Shaq Thomas (Cincinnati) and Shaq Harrison (Tulsa), the AAC gets a much-needed Shaq back in the form of Shaq Morris, Wichita State's starting center.


Rob Gray, Jr.   Houston           20.6
B.J. Taylor       UCF    17.4
Cameron Reynolds      Tulane             17.0
Jalen Adams    UConn             14.4
Shizz Alston    Temple            13.9
Jacob Evans     Cincinnati        13.5
Kentrell Barkley          ECU     13.2
Obi Enechionyia          Temple            13.1
Shake Milton   SMU    13.0
Kyle Washington         Cincinnati        12.9

Tacko Fall        UCF     9.5
Gary Clark       Cincinnati        7.9
Kentrell Barkley          ECU    7.6
A.J. Davis        UCF     7.0
Cameron Reynolds      Tulane             6.8
Tulio Da Silva USF     6.8
Kyle Washington         Cincinnati        6.8
Junior Etou      Tulsa    6.7
Obi Enechionyia          Temple            5.8

Jalen Adams    UConn            6.1
Galen Robinson, Jr.     Houston           4.8
Shake Milton   SMU    4.5
Jeremiah Martin           Memphis          4.4
Shizz Alston, Jr.           Temple            4.1

Conner Frankamp        Wichita State    .440*
Landry Shamet            Wichita State    .439*
Shake Milton   SMU    .423
Jacob Evans     Cincinnati        .418
Cameron Reynolds      Tulane             .388

Monday, July 10, 2017

Mick Cronin, Gregg Marshall talk about addition of Wichita State to AAC, as well as league itself

Say what you want about Mick Cronin (and UConn fans say a lot about him, mostly negative), the guys makes great conversation.

Spoke with Cronin for about a half-hour this morning about his team and, more to the point, the American Athletic Conference. Had a similar conversation with Wichita State's Gregg Marshall late last week.

Marshall's Shockers will be a consensus national top-10 pick this year and without question the pick to win the AAC in their first year in the new league. But don't sleep on Cincinnati. It loses Troy Caupain and Kevin Johnson, but returns everyone else, including its top three scorers (Jacob Evans, Kyle Washington and Gary Clark). And, let's face it, Caupain was pretty disappointing last season, and East Hartford's own Caine Broome (a Sacred Heart transfer) will combine with Justin Jenifer to ease the loss of Caupain at point guard.

Anyway, here's some of what Cronin and Marshall had to say:


(on addition of Wichita State)

"When our league changed, we gave away the name to the Big East, but obviously lost a lot of quality basketball teams. We picked up some teams from Conference USA trying to raise their program to a new level where the Big East was. For those teams, I think they've gotten a lot better and they continue to add to their basketball budget. A lot of quality coaches were hired. But the facts are, we lost some really good basketball teams. It's great to be able to add basketball school like Wichita State, with everybody back, who'll be ranked in the top-10 this year."

"The fact that they're a basketball school really helps our league as far as showing a commitment to basketball. I think it's hurt us in NCAA seeding, as far as perception. I don't think people on the committee or AD's from around the country realize how good SMU has been."

"We need anything to help our profile. Wichita State does have the respect. Cincinnati and UConn have names because our our history and past. Wichita State, because of their run to the Final Four (in 2013), people know who they are. That's just how it is. But we have another team that's just as perennial in SMU."

"The future is bright for basketball in our league."

(on the fact WSU is basketball-only and doesn't bring the almighty, money-making football to the table)

“I don’t care. And you can quote me on that. It’s great to see somebody cared enough about basketball to do the right thing for basketball in our league. Everything’s done for football. But when you sit in the chair I sit in, (people say) ‘Oh, but we need basketball to win and win big.’ It’s beyond refreshing to see something done for the betterment of basketball in our conference – or any conference.”

(Does the league need UConn to be better?)

"Absolutely. Throw Memphis in, too ... Eight years (combined), eight possible tournaments, what are the odds of them going 3-for-8 (combined)? No doubt, it's important for your traditional schools to be good, in any conference. Whether it's North Carolina and Duke or UCLA and Arizona out west, it's no different. But I think UConn (last year), in all fairness, came down to injuries."

"And guys that go pro early. Give them Daniel Hamilton and tell them how their season went. It makes the margin for errors smaller. It's harder when one or two guys go down. It can devastate you. Nobody's got that kind of depth anymore." 

(on Caine Broome, who will play point guard for Bearcats after being one of nation's leading scorers two years ago at Sacred Heart)

"We knew he was a really good player watching him on film. Once we got him here ... we realized he had to score for Sacred Heart, but he's much more comfortable playing point guard. In fact, he's probably a better passer than scorer. When you look at his Sacred Heart stats, that doesn't make sense. But having him in practice every day, watching him up close, his ability to break down a defense ... he gives us a weapon we haven't had, as far as getting teammates easy shots and being able to get in the paint really at will."


(on AAC)

"I think we've got some nationally-known brands for college basketball. We've got nationally-known coaches that have had national-championship success, coach of the year-type success. We feel like this will be a very, very good opportunity for us to join a conference that should be a multi-bid conference every year. It has teams that can go deep in the tournament."

(on being preseason favorites)

"I really try not to put too much stock in it. I will tell you that I'd much prefer that than to be predicted to be not very good. If I had my druthers, I'd rather be picked as a good team. If people don't expect much from you, you probably haven't been very good."

(on importance of UConn being good)

"I think the key for us to be a very good conference is for as many teams as possible - you can't say all, because if somebody's having a great year, somebody's having a bad - to play up to their potential and what they've done in the past. Teams such as Wichita State, Cincinnati, SMU, Connecticut, Memphis, Temple, now Central Florida, all of those teams. Tulsa has shown in recently it can be one of the best programs in the country. If you can get a lot of those teams to do that, the majority to do that, you can get a handful of bids."

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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Kwintin Williams commits to UConn

UConn is adding another player to next season's roster.

Kwintin Williams, a 6-7 forward with freakish athleticism, committed to the Huskies on Sunday afternoon.

Here's my story in the New Haven Register on Williams, who claims a 44-inch vertical leap and would like to increase that by about four inches.

And here are some quotes from my phone conversation with him on Sunday:

“I had a couple other high-major schools. I was talking to Pitt, TCU, Oregon, WSU, UNLV."

"Coach Ollie, when he called me, it wasn’t all about basketball. He was telling me about the UConn family and relationship me and him would be able to have off floor as well as on floor. That led me away from the ACC and Pac 12. I feel like I can come in and have an immediate impact in the American Conference. It's all about relationships with the coach, and I felt I had the best relationship here."

"I'm more of a solid 3, could be 4, go to 2, could guard all five positions"

"My vertical is 44 inches now, and I'm trying to get to at least 48 inches."

"I've always had pretty good hops. It's the hunger, aggression I play with, that always helps. Some people jump occasionally, I jump all 40 minutes. The whole game, I’m in there getting it done. The drive, energy, stuff I bring to floor, as well as aggression to win, or to go get ball. Not everybody jumps for every rebound. That’s a big part of my game: put-backs, tip-ins."

"I took the year off, couldn’t do anything, didn’t need any offers. I was behind the bar on grades, my GPA wasn't the best. I sat down and realized what it takes to play ball. I got 40 credits and held a 3.2 GPA all year."

"I took the year off to get 3 years of eligibility."

Williams said he's originally from Oklahoma City, but he and his mom and grandmother moved to Alaska when he was young. He still lives in Alaska but hopes to be in Storrs by early August."

"Coach Ollie on the phone, he was real with me. Everything he said seemed to add up. That relationship, you don't come across that with too many high-major coaches."

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