NCAA Tournament Redux: 2005 First Round

With over 2/3 of the schools around the United States realizing that the past season ended nearly four months ago and that we are reaching the midway point towards a new season…

I thought this week leading up to Independence Day would be a nice refresher course on some cool NCAA Tournament history–back when CBS had the full, exclusive rights to cover every single game.

The best part about that era from 1982 to 2010 (especially starting in 1991), we all knew when the games would air–both in the afternoon and night.

You had your steady 5 hour blocks (noon to 5 or 5:30 p.m. Eastern, followed by the prime-time sessions that first Thursday and Friday).

(And yes, Greg Gumbel’s 2001 nod briefly making fun of the opening credits to Survivor was in fact true.)

For some of you who might have missed this fun game initially, I will start this cool look back with a First Round game in Oklahoma City when mid-major Bucknell gave powerhouse Kansas more than they could handle:

Tomorrow, I will look back at a Second Round game for the ages.

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Bo Ryan to retire from Wisconsin after 2015-2016 season

Even keeled.

Truthful.

Honest.

Gets the most out of his players.

Those and many other apt descriptions fit longtime Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan to a “T”.

On Monday afternoon in Madison, Coach Ryan announced via the Wisconsin Basketball page on Twitter in a statement that the 2015-2016 season will be his last:

After 15 years in guiding Wisconsin to their most storied run in program history, Ryan (who turns 68 in November) has never finished worse than fourth in the always rough and gritty Big Ten conference.  His Badgers teams also have been a regular guest to the Sweet 16 round, appearing six times during his tenure during the past 12 seasons.

Similar to Jim Boeheim when he announced in 2018 of his retirement back in March, Bo Ryan will hope that his longtime assistant Greg Gard will become the new Wisconsin head coach (in what the NCAA terms as head coach designate).

On Thursday, June 25–Syracuse appointed longtime assistant Mike Hopkins to succeed Boeheim following the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

Here is a great read by Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports that I thought was very interesting:

http://sports.yahoo.com/news/bo-ryan-s-departure-will-mean-the-end-of-an-old-school-era-194131526.html

With several coaches earning more money for the school than their own school Presidents, Bo Ryan’s retirement may present a seismic shift away from the John Wooden/Hank Iba/Adolph Rupp days and more into the era of being the “brand”–whatever school they represent in other words.

Michigan State stockpiles for 2016, Tom Izzo signs extension through 2020

If you haven’t heard the news, veteran Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo signed another multi-year contract through the 2020-2021 season.  Izzo will be entering his 21st season coaching the Spartans, when he took over for the retirement of popular coach Jud Heathcote.

The deal, reported initially by USA Today and reiterated on June 17 by CBSSports.com had Izzo earning $3.5 million per year.

He also got some more great news this past weekend, as 6’6″ five-star combo guard from Alabama by the name of Josh Langford inked a letter of intent to enroll at Michigan State following his senior year this coming winter.  He also considered signing on with Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and Michigan.

This news comes off the earlier release that power forward Nick Ward, who hails from Ohio will also be sporting the Gang Green colors a few seasons down the road.

And just fyi–Tom Izzo only needs five more victories this coming November to join the 500 win club.

As North Carolina braces for possible NCAA sanctions, Roy Williams to stick around for the remainder of the decade

With the popular UNC/former Kansas coach getting a steady raise in salary from a little over $408,000 to close to $600,000 when this current deal that was signed on Friday ends after the 2019-2020 season, we will have to see what the ramifications will be involving UNC’s academic scandal in what the NCAA has termed as, “impermissible-benefits situation”.  They also cite the players going to study hall too often as an allegation under, “lack of institutional control.”

Finally, some very tragic news

Just crossed the wires as I typed this blog at 2:43 p.m. Eastern time:

Wofford reserve player Jeremiah Tate (who played in only 13 games) drowned early this morning while jumping into Lake Wylie while taking time off from his summer duties as a YMCA camp counselor.  He and a friend decided to take a jump from the Buster Boyd Bridge and into that lake, and Tate who would have turned 20 on August 5 did not resurface.

In a statement posted on CBSSports.com, Wofford Athletic Director Richard stated:

“The entire Wofford College family is devastated and saddened today by the loss of Jeremiah Tate.  Jeremiah was such a dedicated, loved and respected member of the men’s basketball team. He had a wonderful personality and had many friends on campus extending outside of the athletic department. Our thoughts, prayers and deepest condolences are with his family.  He will truly be missed.”

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The month of July will feature more releases by the schools of their 2016-2017 schedules, and many coaches will take their NCAA allowed three-week recruiting trips away from campus.

NCAA lowers shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds

Other key rules changes will make the games flow quicker

As I reported on a previous blog nearly three weeks back, the NABC came up with several proposed rule changes.

Chief among them, the third revision of the shot clock used in men’s college basketball was made official on Monday by the NCAA.

As one might recall–it was 45 seconds in 1985-86, then it was lowered again in 1992-93 to 35 seconds.

For the first time in 23 seasons, the shot clock will be lowered once more.

The men will join the women in using a 30 second shot clock.

Other rule changes for coaches, let alone fans and media members to keep in mind include:

  • The number of timeouts that coaches are given is reduced from five to four per game.  No more than three timeouts can be carried over into the second half.
  • If a coach calls time out within 30 seconds of any media time out (typically on the first dead ball after four minutes of play), we will automatically go to that said media time out once, not twice.  The only time it will not go against a team will be before the first media time out with less than 16 minutes to go in the second half.
  • What the NCAA March Madness Twitter page said as, “Stricter enforcement of resumption of play coming out of time outs and after a player has fouled out.”  That will be very interesting to see how analysts like Dick Vitale will comment on that throughout the season.
  • The arc underneath the basket will be widened to four feet to help allow for more freedom of movement.  There will also be a greater emphasis on what will be called as a foul and what isn’t.

My initial thoughts on the rule changes:

The NCAA wants to be like Major League Baseball.  Remember this past December, when all baseball game half-inning commercial breaks were to be only 2 minutes in length (increases slightly to 2:25 for national FOX and ESPN games)?

So far, most baseball games are averaging close to three hours.  By comparison, college basketball games average around 2 hours and 20 minutes.  That number usually goes up during Tournament play–depending on how many fouls are called and all of those frequent time outs in the remaining seconds.

Second, I guess last season’s foul calls will hopefully be cleaned up a bit.  There was too much emphasis on cleaning up the inside lanes, and yet many players tried but few got the calls in their favor.

Hopefully that should help speed up the game, IMHO.

Coaches are going to have start thinking twice about using one of their timeouts early in a game, say if they get blown out by a 19-4 margin before the first media time out.  Because otherwise, if they don’t–they might have to go to the foul every possession game just to stop the clock (team foul situation stays the same as it has been since 1991-92–with seven team fouls incurring a one-and-one bonus situation and every foul starting with the tenth team foul per half resulting in a player from the opposition shooting two free throws).

At the very least, most deliberate teams will have 20 seconds minimum to operate in the half court as opposed to 25 when a guard crosses the 10-second line.

Not counting free throws and obvious foul calls, the number of possessions should go up just a bit:

1985-86, 45 second shot clock–average of 53.33 possessions.

1992-93, 35 second shot clock–average of 68.57 possessions

2015-2016 onward, 30 second shot clock–average could be 80 possessions.

We will see come November how these new rule changes play out.

Should be interesting.

Steve Prohm becomes new coach at Iowa State

Coach Prohm leaves Murray State after four very interesting years

It looks like the search to replace “The Mayor” Fred Hoiberg did not take as long as originally thought.

An agreement in principle was reached in Ames, Iowa on Monday.

Prohm (age 40) compiled a 104-29 record with the Racers.  His team did in fact reach the NCAA Tournament in 2012.  They nearly came close to making it again this past March, losing to Belmont on a crazy last second three point shot in the Ohio Valley tournament final.

And yes, Iowa State will continue to run a lot of those NBA style sets on offense.  A huge chunk of that will be reflected with the NCAA’s major announcement on some rule changes starting next season.

Please look for that in my next blog below.

News and Notes from a somewhat light week in college basketball

With the NCAA’s findings this past week that the University of North Carolina may have been cited for “lack of institutional control”, it begs one very obvious question…

Could their 2009 National Championship be taken away?

The charges include impermissable benefits and letting students off with taking extra independent study courses going back as far as 18 years.

The school has 90 days to come up with their appeal, and then the Committee on Infractions (yes, ladies and gentlemen–there is such a group in Indiana’s state capital) will then give their final outcomes to the NCAA.  Bottom line–don’t expect a decision until probably spring of 2016.

On to some happier news…

Utah may have lost to eventual champion Duke by six points at the Sweet 16 matchup in Houston.  But the Utes feel like they are making strides and they will once again lock horns–but this time at MSG in New York on December 19.  Albeit four stars (three from Duke) will be suiting up in the NBA this coming autumn, Utah will still bring back a huge bolster of quality talent for Larry Krystowiak led by big man Jakob Poeltl will return this fall, along with Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor.

Meanwhile for the Dukies, they again will have another super freshman class with names like Luke Kennard, Chase Jeter, Derryck Thornton, and Brandon Ingram hoping to continue the Blue Devils tradition of solid offense and hard-nosed defense which is their calling card.  Plus, 2015 Final Four hero Grayson Allen is sticking around along with Matt Jones and Amile Jefferson.

Remember that one crying Villanova piccolo player during the NCAA Tournament?

Her face was all over TBS’ coverage when Villanova shockingly lost in the Round of 32 to Boston College this past March.

We finally knew on May 29 after 250 people sent a $15 donation to the  Kickstarter page of Roxanne Chalifoux.  Her sad likeness will appear in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as part of the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame Museum.

CBSSports.com gave a small recap on her 15 minutes of fame, which included a stop in New York to appear on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon:

http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/25199670/villanova-piccolo-player-gets-her-own-bobblehead-in-national-museum

Really, how cool is that!

See how the power of social media can even make the most innocent of students a true part of history.  But I bet moments after I typed this, nobody outside of her close friends in Philadelphia and elsewhere will remember what she did during that game.

First longtime NCAA Director Walter Byers passes away at age 93

When the NCAA first gained traction, there weren’t many games on television–although they were making money during the early 1960’s (hard to believe, but times were simpler then).

Enter a man who never graduated from college and was a true stickler like most college professors who rarely give A’s, let alone perfect scores (even though you felt in your heart of hearts that you did the best job that you possibly could do under the circumstances).

The NCAA grew from a mom-and-pop organization when Walter Byers was one of their first eight full-time employees in 1951 at time when he was hired at the age of 29 (when 381 schools played full time athletic programs) and watched it grow to a prominent amateur organization by the time he retired in 1987 (nearly 1,000 schools participated across three Divisions).

Consider the key changes he helped create and make the NCAA as popular as it has been since the late 1970’s:

  • The control of football revenue was relaxed after a landmark 1984 decision was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court.  The move would pave the way to having more games on cable.
  • He helped coin the term “student-athlete”.
  • All the while with the NCAA’s enforcement division being many school’s worst nightmares similar to Freddy Kreuger lurking down every dark alley every Halloween, he helped make the Final Four very profitable for the schools and the TV networks that televised the games.

In separate statements, current NCAA President Mark Emmert had this to say:

“Walter Byers had a lasting impact on college sports, from those who compete on the field to the educators who support them. As the NCAA’s first full-time executive director, he shepherded the growing Association by encouraging academic excellence as a central part of college sports.”

Current College Football Playoff Executive Director and former Final Four administrator Bill Hancock was very complimentary in his text messages remembering Byers as a, “Brilliant and progressive leader…Ahead of his time in many ways.”

Also, former NCAA executive Tom Jernstedt in an interview with the Associated Press remembered Byers by saying that, “He was remarkable. Brilliant. A very creative individual but very strong and demanding, but his employees all had the utmost respect for him because of his work ethic and leadership values.”

Byers also wrote a book in 1995 titled, Unsportsmanlike Conduct.  After that, we never really heard much from him since he spending the rest of his retirement years on a ranch somewhere in central Kansas and was a total recluse in refusing to give any interviews in print or on television.

Not even YouTube had a clip of any interview that would have been given by NBC prior to 1981 or CBS since the 1982 NCAA Tournament.

Like most organizations who had pillars of strength and integrity like J. Paul Getty, John D. Rockefeller, James “Buck” Duke, and Carnegie Mellon–you can add the name Walter Byers to the list of men who made impacts on people’s lives.  He will be missed.

The search continues at Iowa State to replace “The Mayor”

While Fred Hoiberg seems to be a great fit for the once great NBA World Champion Chicago Bulls, the Cyclones are taking their sweet time to find his replacement.

Problem is…if the school does not make up their mind before the July 4 Independence Day holiday weekend, it could mess up the second half of recruiting, let alone the observing of key players off-season workouts.

IMHO, it is one thing to do a nationwide search.  It is another thing entirely to dot those ‘I’s’ and cross those ‘T’s’ multiple times over while running through key background checks to make sure that they indeed will hire the right coach.

Just my two cents for those that might be reading in Ames, Iowa and other key fans of Iowa State basketball.

I will continue to monitor this story online and occasionally on ESPN when news breaks of the pending replacement of popular coach Fred Hoiberg.

Please have a great week everybody.

Fred Hoiberg leaves Iowa State for dream job coaching the Chicago Bulls

Out of the many articles and social media stories about the departure of “The Mayor” and Iowa State alum Fred Hoiberg for his dream job as he became the 22nd head coach (including three prior interim head bosses) in the 50 year history of the Chicago Bulls.

The five year, $25 million deal is a dream come true for him and his family.  I thought Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune got it right when he said,

“He absolutely could have stayed at ISU for his entire career and likely would have enjoyed even more success than the considerable amount he’s already brought to the program.

That would have been a good life. It would have likely built his legacy at ISU to something truly legendary.

But Hoiberg has shown time and time again he’s not concerned with comfort and ease. He wants to win at the highest levels and he has very little patience in getting there. And he’s supremely confident in his ability to reach it.”

– See more at: http://amestrib.com/sports/hines-column-hoiberg-right-where-he-should-be-nba#sthash.veQschba.dpuf

Coach Hoiberg talked often during the 52 minute press conference inside the cavernous Advocate Training Center, the new practice facility for the Chicago Bulls about “spacing the floor”, “getting more chances to take threes when they become available”, utilizing similar pick and rolls that the San Antonio Spurs have made famous, and not relying so much on long 2 point shots.
His Iowa State teams were in the top of the NCAA ranks as far as three-point field goal shooting percentage and overall attempts.  Only Duke was more accurate during their run to the 2015 title.
In 2014-2015, when concerns over his aortic root aneurysm in his heart surfaced–he has determined that he wanted to take this chance and that he his full backing from his wife of 26 years in Carol and his four kids–one entering junior year in college and the other still in high school.
Similar to Billy Donovan leaving Florida for Oklahoma City and prior to that with Brad Stevens leaving Butler for the Boston Celtics, the lure of coaching in the NBA and getting that rare opportunity to take on the world’s greatest players was too much of an offer for Hoiberg to pass up.
Besides, he has been good friends with current Bulls GM Gar Forman for over twenty years.  Forman was a one-time assistant coach at Iowa State.
What happens for Cyclones going forward
The cupboard is not bare at Iowa State.  The two-time defending Big 12 Conference champions will bring back most of their key players led by Monte Morris, Jameel McKay, and Georges Niang.  After he meets with his former players on Friday, Coach Hoiberg plans to watch some of those games when he can.

The rumor mill has Murray State head coach Steve Prohm (according to ESPN’s Fran Franschilla on his Twitter account) along with CBSSports.com reporting on Monday that longtime Iowa State assistant T.J. Otzelberger has the “full support” of ISU Athletic Director Jamie Pollard.

But another column on Tuesday by Jon Rothstein quoted ISU President Dr. Steven Leath who wants, “a brand name…someone with some pedigree.”
Either way, look for Iowa State to appear this coming October in my third annual season preview as of the 68 teams to make the 2016 NCAA Tournament before major reshuffling takes place in Ames for the 2016-2017 season.
But it will all come down to what type of defensive mind Hoiberg will bring in during the off-season.  We already know where the offense is predicated on–give Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler as much spacing as possible and watch the threes rain down with regularity.
Even Joakim Noah could still be a force and Nikola Mirotic can score in bunches.  Doug McDermott went to the same high school as Fred Hoiberg did way back in the late 1980’s.
Clearly, this team is marked for future greatness.
But back in the 1990’s, he saw the second half of the dynasty up close when his Indiana Pacers pushed the Bulls to the limit in the Eastern Conference Finals before surrendering in the seventh game.
He showed some flashes of brilliance as a journeyman type player during some very lean years for the franchise during 1999 to 2003, leaning on the likes of Elton Brand, Eddy Curry, and Corey Benjamin for support.
All I know is…as a Bulls fan since the middle 1980’s, first time NBA coaches do reasonably well.  That is, except for another one-time Iowa State coach named Tim Floyd.  And we all know what a train wreck that time was.
After wrestling with the decision to come home to Chicago, he made his family aware of it on Monday night.  We will see how much fun Da Bulls will be going forward.
As for the team he leaves behind, it will be interesting to see if Iowa State can again with Kansas.  That will be something many members and bloggers will be focusing a lot come November and December.