BOZICH | Monday Muse: The Best of College Basketball; More Pitin - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Monday Muse: The Best of College Basketball; More Pitino, Calipari chatter

Posted: Updated:
Rick Bozich wonders which team you want to win the Super Bowl? Rick Bozich wonders which team you want to win the Super Bowl?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Life was so simple a year ago. Kentucky was the best team in college basketball – and John Calipari was fast-tracking his way to coach of the year and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

This season? Nobody can hold the top spot for more than 30 seconds. You can craft an argument for at least three – and maybe more -- teams for number one. Player of the Year? It is also undecided, no matter how relentlessly ESPN and Sports Illustrated cram Ben Simmons and Louisiana State down your esophagus.

Sounds like something we can discuss. Sounds like a great launching point for the Monday Muse.

Let’s get to work.

1. Mid-Season Awards

It’s not precisely the mid-point of the college basketball season. But I’ve made an executive decision that it’s close enough. Let’s call the roll on the important awards.

All-American Team

Buddy Hield, Oklahoma; Kris Dunn, Providence; Jarrod Uthoff, Iowa; Simmons, LSU and Brice Johnson, North Carolina.

Team photo: Denzel Valentine, Michigan State; Josh Hart, Villanova; Georges Niang, Iowa State; Grayson Allen, Duke; Yogi Ferrell, Indiana.

Check the class standings: Johnson, Hield and Dunn are seniors; Uthoff is a fourth-year junior; Simmons is the sole rookie.

Player of the Year

Hield by a whisker over Johnson. Every time I watch the kid from Oklahoma play I think of two things:

Does he ever miss a tough shot and does everybody remember that ranked him a 2-star recruit in high school?

Freshman of the Year:

Simmons. Nothing to discuss. I get it, ESPN. Move on.

Transfer of the Year

Damion Lee, Louisville. I wondered if he’d succeed at a high level moving into a league like the Atlantic Coast Conference. I don’t wonder any more.

Coach of the Year

Lon Kruger, Oklahoma. All he does is win – at Kansas State, Florida, Illinois, UNLV and now at Oklahoma.

I checked the recruiting rankings for the Sooners’ five starters. None of them earned more than 3 stars – and two (Hield and Ryan Spangler) failed to earn three.

2. Pitino and UNLV

More evidence that the Rick Pitino to UNLV story will end up being as viable as the Bob Knight to New Mexico or Al McGuire to Kentucky stories.

A new frontrunner has emerged for the job – Joe Pasternack, a former Indiana University student manager who is one of Sean Miller’s top assistants at Arizona. Here is the story from the Las Vegas paper, which outlines Pasternack’s connection to the UNLV president.

When you go from a Hall of Famer with two national championship rings to a guy who has never coached a Division I, you know that UNLV is no longer the job that it used to be.

3. Calipari and The Nets

Talk about another story that it running on empty. Twitter hyperventilated several weeks ago with the talk that Calipari had set his price on returning to the Brooklyn Nets as coach and general manager at 10 years and $120 million

Page Two of the Nets’ GM story has emerged. Word is that Nets’ ownership has no interest in writing a check with that many zeroes and has settled on four other GM candidates to fix a franchise that has forever operated in the shadows of the Knicks, Yankees, Giants, Jets and Mets.

I follow basketball, including the NBA, on a daily basis, but I only recognized two of them names – Bryan Colangelo and Danny Ferry. Somebody will need to help me with the other two – Arturas Karnisovas and Gersson Rosas.

Exhale, Kentucky fans.

4. Rodjay Burns – The Ohio State Perspective

Football recruiting is a collision sport. Louisville has knocked plenty of opponents down while chasing its 2016 class, but the Cardinals took a tumble Sunday night. It happens.

Trinity High School star Rodjay Burns committed to U of L long, long ago. But in recruiting a commitment is not a commitment in the Daniel Webster sense of the word.

Burns, defensive back and receiver, decided he wanted to visit Ohio State. So he did. Burns decided he wanted to commit to Ohio State. So he did.

There’s little doubt that it was jarring news to U of L fans obsessed with recruiting. Trinity is the school that sent Jeff Brohm, Brian Brohm, James Quick and others to U of L. Hurts to lose a local guy.

But this is what I wondered: What did Ohio State fans think of the move?

I visited ElevenWarriors, the most popular OSU fan site, for reaction.

Here is what part of what they said: From a frame standpoint, there's little not to like about Burns, but—as with fellow defensive back commitment Jahsen Wint—there are some concerns. With Burns, it's a matter of how his physical skills translate to the defensive side of the ball.

"My only reservation," the source continued. "Is that he was a part-time player on defense, so it's a bit of a projection."

5. More Love for Louisville Football

I’m not certain where Louisville will be ranked in the pre-season magazines for the 2016 college football season. Forced to predict today, I’ll say in the 18-to-22 range.

More evidence that the Cardinals will make the Top 25 cut has surfaced: Justin Ferguson of Bleacher Report included Louisville on his list of Most Improved Teams for next season in this story.

His list also includes Houston, Michigan, Miami and North Carolina, which means it’s a nice cut to make.

6. College Basketball Dual Qualifiers

Here is a college basketball prediction that I will not make: Picking the national champion.

Last season, you could pick Kentucky, Duke and Wisconsin to make a Final Four run with confidence. This season I can’t pick anybody for the Final Four with confidence.

What I can tell you is this. Some believe that a sharp clue to pick Final Four teams is to look for squads that rank in the Top 20 in offensive and defensive efficiency in Ken Pomeroy’s computer rankings.

Here is the list of the current dual qualifiers (with their offensive and defensive efficiency rankings):

Iowa – 6 offense, 14 defense.

Oklahoma -- 8 & 13

Villanova -- 15 & 9

Here are the teams that are close, but not quite there:

Louisville 28  & 3

Texas A&M 33 & 6

Miami 22 & 17

Maryland 24  & 16

Kansas 13 & 31

Wichita State 26 & 18

Finally, two other teams you care about:

Kentucky 29 & 28

Indiana 19 & 46

7. Will You Watch the NBA on Saturday Night (during college basketball season)?

If you remember the early days of ESPN, you remember how the network made its name. It wasn’t the NFL. It was not Major League Baseball. It was not the NHL.

It was college basketball.

Now there are days when college basketball seems like the eighth most important thing that ESPN does. The network is part of the ABC/Disney family. That is what makes this item curious.

Last Saturday ABC launched an eight-week Saturday Night Game of the Week for the NBA with a meeting between the Cavaliers and the Bulls. Maybe that explained why ESPN’s College Game Day showdown between Maryland and Michigan State tipped at 6:30 p.m. instead of the traditional 8 or 9 p.m.

Will viewers in this area watch an NBA Game of the Week in January, February and March? They’re going to give you a heavy does of LeBron James. It is Cleveland vs. San Antonio this weekend.

I know the answer. But I had to ask.

8. Super Bowl Ads – the Heat is On.

Carolina vs. Denver sounds like a rematch of an ABA Finals series, but it is actually the showdown for the 2016 Super Bowl.

But there is much more to the Super Bowl than football. Like commercials.

This story from the New York Times grabbed my attention. The greatest pressure facing ad agencies does not come from groups creating their first Super Bowl commercial. It’s Year Two that tests their imagination. Can you consumers talk about your product again?

A year ago Avocados from Mexico introduced themselves during the game. They intend to play in the Super Bowl advertising pool again this season, but wonder what they can do to make people remember their product.

Sorry. I can’t help, Mr. Avocado. But I will look for your ad.


If you’re a regular reader of the Muse, you know that I’ve started to reserve the ninth item for baseball. As closely as I follow the game, it appears that the baseball’s leaders are trying to sneak this fastball past its fans:

A big change appears to be coming to the National League, perhaps as soon as the 2017 season: The addition of the designated hitter, which the American League has used for more than four decades.

This is certain to create howls in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and other spots of hard-core National League tradition. No more double switches. Less reliance on the sacrifice bunt. More scoring.

I’ve preferred the American League game for years because it allowed guys like Paul Molitor, Frank Thomas, David Ortiz and Edgar Martinez to remain relevant.

But if you’re outraged, or even just a bit upset, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts. Just send them along to


What is your take on the UNLV job speculation, surrounding Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino?

The story will be forgotten by Tuesday afternoon – 36 percent.

UNLV needs a big splash hire but Pitino will not leave U of L – 32 percent.

UNLV wants Pitino and Pitino wants to feel more local love –  24 percent.

There is mutual interest but UNLV cannot afford Pitino – 8 percent.

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.