Slow news week? It's never a slow news week in college basketball in these parts, as WDRB's longest College Basketball Notebook ever will attest . . .
Media change hits U of L sites
The media changes that were announced a little more than a week ago took affect at U of L fan sites this weekend, with Jody Demling of The Courier-Journal taking over the Scout.com Cardinals fan site, to be rebranded as Cardinal Authority, and Mike Hughes, who founded Insidetheville on Scout moving to 24/7 Sports.
Hughes began his new site with an FAQ for fans this morning, in which he told them, "I decided to join 247Sports because I am convinced that our partnership will allow InsideTheVille.com to provide Cardinals fans the best online service possible for many years to come. Perhaps the main reason for my excitement about joining 247Sports is the industry-leading mobile site, which will allow Cardinal fans easy access to InsideTheVille.com anywhere they go."
Over at Scout, Demling got it going with an exclusive one-on-one interview with U of L basketball coach Rick Pitino.
When asked about schedule, Pitino told Demling this: "We have gotten screwed every year we have been in the Big East and it will be nothing different because of TV. When TV wants you, you play Syracuse twice and Notre Dame and those teams. But it's OK. The one thing I have realized about the Big East is there are no easy nights. We took on the weakest team last year and got killed. You just have to understand that in the Big East and know it helps down the road."
Demling also asked Pitino about its upcoming early-season trip to the Bahamas, and got this response: "It will be great competition and a big test for us. But we will be ready for it. We have a veteran ball club on the court and veteran club off the court. They are very, very mature kids who know how to get up for an opponent, who know how to take things seriously and understand the weight room. This is a very, very mature basketball team."
D'Angelo Russell is the best college basketball prospect from Louisville since Rajon Rondo. Kentucky is recruiting him. Louisville is recruiting him. Any school that wants to win big will recruit Russell for the next two seasons. He's only 16 with two seasons of high school ball ahead of him.
But Kentucky vs. Louisville is where the focus of this recruiting tug of war will be because as readers of The Notebook know Kentucky vs. Louisville is the focus of everything (though some indications this week are that Louisville already is backing off the Louisville native.)
Russell only lives in Louisville during the gap in the school year now. He left Central High School last fall and played his sophomore season at Montverde (Fla.) Academy. He'll be back in the sunshine for his junior and senior seasons.
Russell does play for a Louisville-based AAU team (The Louisville Magic) and is coached by former U of L player Ellis Myles, a starter on the Cards' 2005 NCAA Final Four team. Don't try to pull Myles into the U of L-UK debate as it concerns Russell. Really. Don't. He'll give you the trademark Ellis Myles' glare – and it's a 5-star glare. He says he will not, NOT, be an advocate for any school.
"That's not my job (trying to decide between U of L and UK for Russell)," Myles said. "His father is in the picture. He and his father will sit down and decide where he fits best. "I just want him to go somewhere where he fits that style of play and he can succeed. He knows that."
That's the correct course, of course. But get ready for rumors, debate and a million people who will be telling you they know what's really going on with D'Angelo Russell.
Swopshire looking good in purple and white
Don't fret for Jared Swopshire. U of L didn't encourage him to stay for his fifth season with the Cardinals, but he's landed in a wonderful place – a Northwestern program that is determined to make its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament next March.
As Teddy Greenstein reported this week in the Chicago Tribune, Swopshire is part of an influx of talent that has given coach Bill Carmody more depth than he's ever had with the Wildcats. Greenstein found Swopshire going one-on-one with Drew Crawford, Northwestern's best returning player at Welsh-Ryan Arena, at 9 a.m. the other day.
Carmody, as you'd expect, is already a Jared Swopshire fan.
"(He) "does a little bit of everything. He gets some rebounds. He's a very good cutter, a decent shooter. And he picks things up very quickly."
It's official, Calipari to retire
John Calipari had joked that if his Dominican Republic team made the Olympics, Kentucky fans might need to "find yourself a new coach" after the run he had this past season. As it turned out, Calipari nearly got the Dominican team to London, but came up one victory short.
Nonetheless, he said definitively to CoachCal.com that he won't be back as coach of the Dominican Republic.
"I always said I'd retire by the age of 55," Calipari said. "Well, I'm officially retiring after this game … from the Dominican Republic. I'm going to help them, consult and do those things, but I don't think I'm going to be coaching them."
Former UK target Bennett's eligibility on hold
Some Kentucky fans shook their heads when Anthony Bennett selected Nevada-Las Vegas over UK last spring. Today it is UNLV fans doing the head shaking.
According to the web site VegasSeven.com, Bennett was not cleared to enroll in summer school classes so there is no word on whether he will safely navigate through the NCAA eligibility clearinghouse.
This is what UNLV coach Dave Rice told the VegasSeven.com: "Anthony has been admitted to UNLV. We are submitting all the documents that the NCAA Eligibility Center needs to certify him."
Might not be that easy. Bennett grew up in Canada and attended multiple high schools before finishing at Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev. The multiple high school guys are always an ongoing saga.
Crean upgrades titles for assistant coaches
Indiana coach Tom Crean last week promoted assistants Tim Buckley and Steve McClain to the titles of associate head coach, while adding the title of recruiting coordinator to assistant Kenny Johnson's title. Calbert Cheaney had, "Director of Internal and External Player Development" added to his title of Director of Basketball Operations.
"The chemistry inside your program starts with the chemistry of your staff from top to bottom," Crean said. "Everyone in our program continues to work in a diligent and energized pace to keep IU on a continual rise."
Crean said particularly with Buckley and McClain, "They have exhibited a daily intensity, passion and skill level that has been felt by everyone associated with IU basketball. There are very few things that happen in our program that they don't have a hand in."
Old Knights Hall Court going up for sale
The original Knights Hall basketball court, installed in 1960, is being replaced this summer, but fans can own their own piece of the old one -- and a piece of Bellarmine history -- by purchasing a section from the school.
Pieces of the original floor have been saved and mounted on a special 5 by 7 inch commemorative plaque. The school is not selling the court -- which was the home court for its NCAA championship season in 2010-11 -- as a fundraiser. It says it is offering the pieces at cost as a service to Bellarmine alumni and fans.
Fans have two options -- natural wood or a scarlet piece. Both have etched into them a representation of the floor and the text, "Original Knights Hall Floor 1960-2012" on the left and "2011 NCAA Division II National Champions" on the right.
Bellarmine will be taking orders until August 1, or until the pieces sell out. Cost for each piece is $40 (shipping included). Register at this link or call (502) 272-8333 for more information.
Jabari Parker: The Perfect 10
Jabari Parker has already splashed his way across the front of Sports Illustrated magazine. SI labeled him the best high school basketball player since LeBron James. And that's before Parker started his senior year at Simeon Academy in Chicago, the same school that produced Derrick Rose.
Parker's recruitment will be different. One reason is Parker is Mormon, and many expect his religion to provide an edge to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, the university of choice for many Mormons.
Another reason is that Parker has already cut his list of schools, but he cut it to 10, not five or six.
So The Notebook has studied the list and decided to help Jabari by ranking the choices.
10. DePaul. Parker's a nice kid – and proved it by giving a courtesy mention to the hometown doormat, but not the University of Illinois. Other than George Mikan, who goes to DePaul?
9. Stanford. Great academics. Great academics. Great academics. The Notebook can't come up with a second reason for Parker to sign with the Cardinal.
8. Florida. Billy Donovan has certainly developed his share of players and won a pair of national titles. But his pipeline into Chicago isn't strong – unless Joakim Noah is helping.
7. Georgetown. If President Obama gets re-elected, Parker can play in the weekly pick-up games at The White House.
6. Kansas. It's never wise to count out Bill Self, but it's not easy to rank the Jayhawks in the upper half of this scrum.
5. North Carolina. Come to Chapel Hill and be the next Harrison Barnes.
4. Duke. Come to Durham and be the next Grant Hill.
3. Kentucky. Two Chicago kids (Rose and Anthony Davis) played one season for John Calipari and became the first pick in the NBA Draft. Care to make it three, young man?
2. BYU. Like his mother, Parker is a serious Mormon. It's uncertain if he will be willing to play college games on Sundays. BYU becomes difficult to turn down.
1. Michigan State. The scuttlebutt on the recruiting trail is that Parker and his family have connected with Spartans coach Tom Izzo. He grew up in Big Ten territory – and Michigan State is the only Big Ten school on the list.
The NCAA's latest nonsense
Just when you think the NCAA can't get more bizarre in a ruling, something else comes along. This week, it's the story of Caltech. The Division III school has been historically bad. Get this, its basketball team went 26 years (you read that right, 26 YEARS, 310 games) without winning a conference game before beating Occidental on Feb. 22, 2011.
But alas, it is tainted.
The NCAA reprimanded and penalized Caltech last week for using academically ineligible players.
Why were they ineligible? Caltech has a unique (and fairly common-sense) way of course registration. It encourages students to "shop" for courses. Which means students attend courses for three weeks at the beginning of a term before officially registering.
The NCAA has determined, however, that during that period, the athletes are not official students and should not be playing in games.
The school said in a statement that the violations were inadvertent and promptly self-reported.
The school's big basketball victory, by the way, will not have to be vacated.
Five Most Watched College Basketball Games During the 2011-12 Season, according to Sports Media Watch
Interesting aside, UK's national title win over Kansas drew a higher rating in the city of Louisville even than the epic UK-U of L Final Four meeting.
1. Kentucky vs. Kansas, NCAA title game, 12.3 rating, 20.9 million viewers. 2. Kansas vs. Ohio State, Final Four, 9.6 rating, 16.6 million viewers 3. UK vs. Louisville, Final Four, 8.4 rating, 13.9 million viewers 4. Kansas vs. North Carolina, Elite Eight, 7.1 rating, 11.7 million viewers 5. Ohio State vs. Syracuse, Elite Eight, 6.7 rating, 10.9 million viewers.
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