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It’s FIBA, and not the NBA, the NCAA is eyeballing

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

We’ve mentioned and discussed lately that the NCAA seems to be molding its game to resemble something else. Our theory for a spell was that everything was intended so that the NCAA might better resemble the NBA, and many of you sighed and fretted about that act of imitation because those are two separate products that are consumed or ignored with particular merit. More and more, though, I hear that people who are in the rooms or in the business get the feeling the NCAA’s rules-makers are looking at FIBA as their model — and understand there’s some frustration there because international prospects are schooled in a way that’s dramatically different from how American prospects are schooled.

Still, we say the 30-second shot clock is a nod to the NBA. FIBA has a 24-second clock, too. We say moving the arc under the basket a foot back is a NBA ploy. FIBA’s arc is just about the same as the NBA’s. You want free-flowing basketball with ease of movement and the ball matriculating faster than a defender? You can digest the NBA, but FIBA is an alternative as well.

The markings on the court, the way the game is timed, that has an NBA influence. But the way the game is played inside those marks and within the time constraints, that has a FIBA influence.

College basketball is trying to achieve and secure a free-flowing style of play where players with and without the ball can move without restrictions, where offenses are enabled to operate with ease and speed, where teams can play like international clubs. The NCAA will do many things to pursue this, like having officials call more fouls for contact on the perimeter, though this started in the middle of last season. In the Big 12, in-season memos made their way to teams that sought to prevent contact and really seemed to target WVU and its press — though officials were also encouraged to watch for players traveling out of traps, too.

Bah, I can’t fool you, though. Feel free to discuss the final sentence as you will.

And the WR corps gets another boost

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Ka’Raun White has been on campus for more than a week now, and the somewhat skinny receiver position will get some more help when the first wave of recruits arrive for the start of the next summer session June 8.

Durante is a prominent name in WVU’s recruiting class for myriad reasons — he’s coming through the pipeline, he’s quite good, he’s highly regarded, he might have flipped to Alabama for a minute — but none greater than his involvement in the very ugly, very public airing of grievances at Miramar High this past season. And let’s be careful with the word “involvement,” because he was dragged into the mess. Facts of the case aside, kid pass and fail all the time and don’t always make news like that, and that was always unfair to Durante.

Dana Holgorsen was adamant on signing day that WVU “wouldn’t take guys that we think would have an eligibility problem.” He further said “us studying each and every one of these guys academically we all feel like they are in a good spot to be eligible.” That followed similarly firm statements from WVU’s compliance department that defendered Damon Cogdell. So this would seem to stand in line, no?

Well, yes and no. Durante’s tweet is good news — he’s graduating, meaning he has (and had) the grades to walk across the stage, so it is fair to wonder how bad his grades were and how accurate accusations were — but it means absolutely zero about eligibility and any guarantees beyond him showing up in June. After all, this is not an edict from WVU, and kids have been and will be overexcited and innocently unaware about their statuses and their futures. Could the NCAA’s Eligibility Center page him one day? Sure, though some good signs have been planted before a red flag has been raised.

WVU getting into The Basketball Tournament

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Certainly you remember The Basketball Tournament, a clever concept that got started last year and just seemed destined to stick. How many times do we see a college team come together to make a run and then lose a piece or multiple pieces and never look the same as it did during that one week or one month when it captured our imagination? How often does a team miss its window because of an injury, graduation, a coaching change or the NBA? How frequently do we wish we could see our favorite teams or players come together one more time?

TBT is the stage for those previously unthinkable roundball reunions, and it’s back again this year with more hype, more credibility and a prize twice as large.

The field is immense this year. Personally, I’m most excited that Florida Gulf Coast is represented, because I couldn’t get enough of its act in 2013 and I was so sad to see it go. Dunk City is actually only a part of one team, having joined up with similarly inspiring Mercer, which of course Nae Nae’d Duke in 2014. Together they’re called the Bracket Busters, and they should be safely included in the field.

FGCU boasts Parkersburg’s Chase Fieler. More West Virginia connections? Absolutely. Dalton Pepper is on a Temple alumni team that needs votes to get into the top 18 in it region. Truck Bryant and Kevin Jones are on a roster with former New York City stars.

Friday Feedback

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hey, we’re all the way back, no? Welcome to the Friday Feedback, which wants to tip a glass to West Virginia baseball today. True, nothing has really happened. The program hasn’t been to a NCAA regional in 18 years and didn’t get too close this year. The 2015 season ended with a whimper, a two-game stumble through the Big 12 tournament it rallied to qualify for and two losses that saw a combined one run. WVU was 21-12 after sweeping a three-game series against Butler that opened Monongalia County Ballpark, but went 6-15 from that point forward and finished 27-27.

But baseball has changed here, and you can’t argue against that. People, be they patrons, players, coaches, opponents, administrators or recruits, take the thing more seriously now. Attendance is up. The new stadium is a major chip that, in time, will generate appreciable results. The best is still ahead for the program, one that had just four seniors on the roster and two all-freshman team picks.

Whatever. Here’s where you begin to understand WVU has something going: The manager is mentioned in rumors about jobs at other schools. That never happens here. Of course, you ought not take this too seriously. It started, albeit way, way, way off the radar, earlier this month. I soon found myself talking about it with people, which was more fun than serious. Clemson, as I type, has a manager and isn’t looking for one, and if you sniff around you come to understand Randy Mazey is not a leading candidate. I’m also unsure Mazey would or would want to go anywhere right now. He and his family are invested here, so there’s a weighty anchor. Basically, I just want to underline one point: We’re so far from being in the middle of this story. I mean, so far that it’s not actually a story right now.

But still, that guy’s name is on a list! It doesn’t mean anything, but, come on. A WVU manager is on a list! That’s one way you and we came to know WVU had something with John Beilein and Rich Rodriguez and Nikki Izzo-Brown and even Jill Kramer.

Now, if you are worried, I would try to talk you out of that. Clemson has won eight of 10 to move to 32-26. Thursday’s ACC tournament win against No. 3 Louisville helped the Tigers find footing on the bubble. So it might not open. If it does, it’s a big-time gig that will draw big-time interest, and Mazey, despite a profile he’s elevated here with more than just wins and losses, doesn’t seem to stand on the shelf Clemson might pick from one day. Maybe I’m wrong, but again, we’re not on that stoop right now.

Then again — and here’s the familiar part — the story might not end this year. Clemson’s hall of fame manager is contracted through the 2016 season, and the A.D. won’t extend that deal. He didn’t last season and it wouldn’t make sense for him to do it after this season. When the A.D. did agree to bring the coach back last season, he did so with four conditions, the likes of which I’ve either never seen or never seen disclosed and discussed in a like manner. So the manager doesn’t seem long for life there and a list exists. Who knows what happens, but for a change, people care.

Onto the Feedback. As always, comments appear as posted. In other words,

SheikYbuti said:

I suppose whenever Ka’Raun eludes a pursuing defender with his patented Shamrock Shake, he can yell back as he approaches the end zone, “Did you want fries with that?!?”


Av8eer said:

I heard he Ka’raun past defenders like they’re in quicksand

Also yes.

I love you, Doug! said:

I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still/
Ka’raun-raun-raun-raun Ka’raun-ran-ran

Still yes.

Clarence Oveur said:

Yeah, my heart stood still

Yeah, leave off that dill

Aaaaaand when he ran a post/
Ka’raun-raun-raun-raun, Ka’raun-raun-raun

More yes.

Mr Burns said:

To date, Mr White has zero catches for zero yards. Let’s go slow here.

Released the hounds.


Las Vegas mellows the mood

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Take a guess who Brovada likes as the favorite to win the 2015 national title. My hint to you is WVU is familiar with this team.


Baseball on the brink

Thursday, May 21, 2015

West Virginia’s protagonists of ping went to Tulsa for the Big 12 tournament feeling pretty good about themselves — and at this stage, believing is as important as being. After all, this is a team that won seven in a row and nine of 10 earlier in the season, but also lost six straight and eight out of 10. A promising finish amidst pressure at the end of the season seemed to suggest the Mountaineers had the right look at the right time.


The Good and the Bad headquarters

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Every iteration of our signature feature is now found in one place. Enjoy them again and again or to hold you over until the start of preseason practice. For future reference, it’s in a menu on the right side of the page.

Speaking of football

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

We’ve got some updated Heisman Trophy and national championship odds from Brovada. WVU plays three teams with odds better than 25/1 to win the national title and seven teams with odds better than its own 250/1 shot. Four teams WVU used to play regularly (five if you want to count Marshall and six if you are old school and need to add Boston College) have 500/1 odds.


Juwan Staten takes his show on the road

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The two-time first-team all-Big 12 point guard was in Philadelphia Monday after working out for the 76ers. He has a dozen or so other workouts lined up before June’s draft, and he’s convinced his game will convince a team to call his name.

“I know my game,” he said. “It’s game that I’ve studied my whole life. A lot of guys I have played against my whole life are in the NBA.”

If Staten isn’t one of the 60 names called in next month’s draft, he can latch on with a team as an undrafted free agent and open eyes in the NBA’s Summer League. But with one workout done and more than a dozen on the horizon, Staten believes a team will find a spot for him.

It’s why he proudly tweeted a photo on himself inside the 76ers locker room wearing a white Sixers practice jersey. He believes this tour of NBA cities won’t be his last.

“I feel like I will get drafted,” he said. “I feel like I’ve proved I belong and I’m still proving myself with all these workouts. I do think I’ll get drafted. If not, I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make the most of any opportunity … I’ll prove myself.”

This is good for Staten. Invitations matter because teams obviously want to extend them to players they want to see. He gets a stage to play his game in a small setting and not in a camp atmosphere when he’s trying to get his or do his thing with teammates who are out for their stock, too.

Scouts have been on Staten all year, and the attention intensified late in the season. A few teams I spoke to don’t believe he’ll be drafted, and though that can change between then and now and because of workouts like these, they expect nothing higher than the final 10 or so picks in the second round. They mostly see him as an undrafted free agent, a rookie league invitee who can earn a spot in the developmental league and who would be good for that team and young players in need of a savvy guard. Ultimately, the idea is his greatest fame and fortune would come overseas, where the money is good and his game is fit for the free-flowing ways those leagues play.

All of that said, the projections of others won’t keep Staten’s feet on the ground.


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bob Huggins is on the rubber chicken circuit, and upon returning from my vacation I noticed he said something interesting in Martinsburg the other day.

“… we’ve got a brutal schedule,” Huggins said. “It’s a very, very challenging non-conference schedule and hopefully we didn’t bite off more than we can handle.”

I’d heard a little or a lot about the schedule and wondered 1) if what I’d heard was true and 2) is reality actually brutal?

Well, let’s find out: The 2015-16 schedule came out today and includes Northern Kentucky (13-17 last season), James Madison (19-14) in Charleston, a pair of tomato cans as the preliminary part of the Las Vegas Invitational (I’ve heard of the four teams listed it’ll be Bethune-Cookman [11-21] and Liberty [8-24]), Kennesaw State (10-22), Louisiana Monroe (24-14, CBI runner-up!), Marshall (11-21) in Charleston and Eastern Kentucky (21-12, but Jeff Neubauer left for Fordham) as home/sorta home games. Yuck. That’s as unappealing a non-conference home schedule Huggins has had since his first year or two at WVU, when some of the scheduling process was out of his control. WVU has played at least one non-conference home game against a major-conference opponent in every year since not doing so his first two seasons.

When that happens, there’s a side-effect. The major conference opponents are formidable, and not one is at home. The Vegas opponents (again, unannounced) figure to be Cal in the first game and then either San Diego State or Richmond in the second (I doubt the organizers want a Cal-SDSU or WVU-SDSU game in the opener). Virginia is in Madison Square Garden and Virginia Tech and Florida are on the road.