LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- So Rick Pitino thinks the Big East should hit a "grand slam" and pursue ESPN's Jay Bilas as commissioner? Given the Big East's luck lately, it's just as likely to hit into a fielder's choice and get Digger Phelps. This deserves a bit more thought, and it will get just that in this edition of the College Basketball Notebook . . .
Pitino pens new blog entry
In addition to the national headlines Rick Pitino made in suggesting Bilas as Big East commish in his most recent blog entry, the U of L coach also said that the pressure facing his team is no different from last season, and that at the moment, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng are probably the only two sure-bet starters on the roster, while adding "never really thought with a running, pressing team that (starting) matters.
He adds, "Chane battles Montrezl. Kevin Ware battles Russ and Luke. Luke battles Wayne. Angel battles three different guys. Competition makes team better."
The notebook assumes readers are on a first-name basis with the players mentioned, but just this once -- Chane Behanan, Montrezl Harrell, Russ Smith, Luke Hancock, Wayne Blackshear and Angel Nunez were those mentioned above.
Behanan rings in new season at Caravan stop
Sophomore Chane Behanan was a hit at the Cardinal Caravan stops when he recounted his big basket that gave U of L the lead over Florida in its Elite Eight victory in Phoenix. Behanan's rendition, in its entirety:
"About a minute left on the clock. I got the ball. Russdiculos passed it to me -- on the baseline. This is a true story. I swear on my dead grandmother. In my mind, Kobe Bryant is my favorite player to ever play the NBA game. So in my mind, when I got the ball, I was wondering, like, what would Kobe do in this situation? So when Gorgui tried to come over and take the ball from me, I just gave him a little wave like, Gorgui, it's about to go down. So just watch out. So I waved Gorgui off, three dribbles to the middle, head fake, he jumped, as he was coming down I jumped, made the bucket, make us go up by one. Russdiculous took it from there. Wayne came in, hit the final free throw, and we went on to the Final Four."
The notebook assumes readers are on a nickname basis with the players mentioned, but just this once: Russdiculous is Russ Smith.
Calipari tours new locker room construction at Rupp
At CoachCal.com, University of Kentucky coach John Calipari toured the program's new locker room construction at Rupp Arena and talked about the renovation's impact on the program and the building.
"When you think of this, this will be the gold standard of any locker room in any building, including NBA buildings," Calipari said. ". . . It'll be used for all the athletic department. In other words, (when) they have recruits in, there's areas for them to bring their families in, recruiting lounge areas within the suite that I'm fine if they use. Postgame it'll mostly be us. Pregame, it could be the football team the volleyball team, the baseball team, whoever wants to use it who's at the game that night."
Calipari said the construction also includes new rooms for officials and rooms that could be utilized for the NCAA Tournament or Kentucky state tournament.
"We'll have a walkway for our K-Club members that will be glass, like you have in the NBA, so they'll see our players and staff going out to the court or coming in from shooting around as they're having their cokes and cookies or whatever else they eat back there, and they'll be able to see it," he said.
Calipari said he thinks the nearly $3 million locker room upgrade in Rupp will spur further renovation, perhaps priming the pump for other improvements once people see the possibilities.
"It kind of pushes it ahead," Calipari said. " When people see this area back here, I think they're going to be excited about, 'Wow, we can make the rest of the building this way?' I don't think it takes away from anything. I think you say wow for the city, for the building, for the university, for the basketball program. This sets us apart."
Cody Zeller handles his own Twitter account, using the handle @CZeller 40. There's also somebody in the Twitter universe who operates a satirical Zeller account with the name @TheBigHandsome.
In fact, Zeller recently popped up on a video titled "Don't Wanna Be a Millionaire," created by The Big Handsome. Here are some of the lyrics:
I don't wanna be a millionaire all that bad Just keep getting allowance from my dad I'll still be on the cover of sports magazines Smiling next to Yogi and Tom Crean
That has inspired the idea around Planet Hoosier that Zeller's nickname is "The Big Handsome."
It turns out that even IU director of basketball operations Calbert Cheaney has picked up on Zeller's social media interactions. Cheaney related this story about Zeller to Reggie Hayes of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News-Sentinel during a golf outing this week.
"What do they call him, ‘The Big Handsome?' " Cheaney asked. "I call him, ‘The Big Simple.'
"He just keeps everything simple. You tell him to do something, he does it. He is a joy to coach and talk to. He just goes about his business."
Cheaney, still the all-time leading scorer in the Big Ten, couldn't escape town without discussing some of the hype percolating around Tom Crean's fifth Hoosier team. Cheaney knows what king-sized expectations are like. He lived with them throughout his IU career from 1989-93.
"(I tell them) not to worry about the rankings and do what we do," Cheaney told Hayes. "Stay the course, keep working hard and results will come …
"We have a good, hard-working crew and five new freshmen coming in there working hard. We're going to be pretty good, it's just the matter of staying the course. Coach (Crean) always talk about having that standard of excellence. They're working hard and they're really, really hungry."
Canaan loaded for new challenges
Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan has had the summer of his dreams, working at the LeBron James camp in Las Vegas and getting to scrimmage with the counselors. Scouting reports quickly circulated that Canaan showed that he can compete with anybody and that he helped his status as a future NBA prospect. Canaan averaged 19 points per game last season, shooting nearly 46 percent from the three-point line. He figures to start the season on several first-team all-American lists.
Will Aubrey of Examiner.com interviewed Canaan this week and asked him about the camp experience.
"It was just an honor to be there," Canaan said. "And the feedback that I got from everybody was just great, saying that I was one of the best guards there. I had fun and I expect a lot of myself. I try to be the best player that I can be, and it seems that it has been working for me."
Boeheim: Time for Orange to say farewell
Jim Boeheim and his Syracuse basketball team will make one farewell appearance at the KFC Yum! Center next season before the Orange pick up their ball and fast break to the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Don't expect Boeheim to become emotional on his farewell tour of the Big East, even though Syracuse was one of the founding members of the Big East.
"The Big East is not what it used to be," Boeheim said before he departed for Europe in his role as an assistant coach with the U.S. men's Olympic basketball team.
"I think the ACC is a tremendous league and it's a tremendous opportunity for us. To stay in one time zone and play in a great conference, but specifically, a great basketball conference, is a great fit for us."
Bilas? Let's look at some other Big East commissioner possibilities
So far, the only reaction from Jay Bilas to Rick Pitino's suggestion that he'd make the perfect Big East Commissioner has been this Sunday morning tweet: "If I take the Big East Commissioner job, I will appoint Bill Raftery the Hospitality Czar. Big East Tourney will be OPEN BAR!!"
But that got us at the Notebook to thinking. How might the Big East look depending on which ESPN personality were inserted as commissioner? Some possibilities.
BOB KNIGHT: Shot-fakes required on every touch of the ball, the word "Kentucky" to be removed on all Big East official mentions of the city of Louisville.
DICK VITALE: League office required to override the firing of any hoops coach, conference slogan to be changed to, "Are you kidding me?"
DIGGER PHELPS: Two new rules. 1. Notre Dame wins. 2. If Notre Dame loses, see Rule No. 1.
TONY KORNHEISER: All road trips to be made by bus, all games to end by 9 p.m. Eastern, commissioner to receive premium parking at all events, even non-conference and non-sports affiliated events where possible, and lifetime exemption to compete in the Big East men's golf tournament.
LEE CORSO: League to re-introduce football as a varsity sport. What? You say it has football? Not so fast, my friends. Does the commissioner have his own mascot head?
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