College Basketball Nation Archive: September 2011

Bill Self says realignment is hypocritical

September, 9, 2011
Kansas is finding itself in an uncertain situation, as the possibility of a Big 12 collapse could leave the school in search of a new conference. Who knows what the future holds for the Jayhawks?

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger has expressed his disappointment after Oklahoma revealed that it is considering leaving for another conference.

In an interview with 610 Sports Radio, coach Bill Self expressed frustration at the Academic Progress Rate and that the leadership in college sports has allowed realignment fever to dominate the landscape.
"It's hypocritical to think that APR is so important. They're going to start pulling teams out of postseason competition if their APRs aren't certain rates. And there's a direct correlation between making good grades and going to class. And now they’re putting kids in a position where they’re going to miss more class than what they’re already required to miss...

"It's nervous times because the way we know college athletics could change in a real short period of time. It started last year, and then the Big 12 kind of held it together. But this situation could lead to expansion to other leagues, which leads to breakups not only potentially in our league, but the breakups in other leagues because other leagues are going to poach guys out of that league. It's going to be a different time moving forward, and we try to hope like heck we can stay status quo in some respects because I don't see how this benefits the masses at all...

“Let’s call it like it is. The NCAA, the presidents, the organization itself, has every rule change, everything involved based on graduation rate, based on the APR, based on providing more educational opportunities, based on the support services. If you want to play big-time college athletics, there's certain things that schools have to do for the student-athlete. That's all good. But now you have obviously a situation where it begs the thought of hypocrisy in that, 'We want this, we say this, and the rules apply to everybody else, but do they really apply to me?"

Self is raising the issue at a time when the academic standards required to participate in the NCAA tournament have been raised. At the same time, it has been football and television money that have been driving forces in realignment.

Those are the realities of the current situation, which leaves Self scratching his head while one of the nation's most storied basketball program is left twisting in the wind.

(Hat tip: Sports Radio Interviews)

Big 12

LSU honors Shaq with 900-pound statue

September, 9, 2011

Blown away, the Big Aristotle had expected something smaller.

When Shaquille O'Neal was informed that LSU would be honoring him with a statue dunking the basketball in a Tigers uniform outside the program's new practice facility, the former All-American couldn't have imagined being depicted in 900 pounds of bronze.

"I had no idea that it was that big," O'Neal told reporters Thursday. "I thought it was going to be like some little thing, but I think it's beautiful.

"I'm not just saying it because it's me, but that right there is the probably best sculpture in the country. It really is. It's fabulous."

O'Neal said he would call the statue "the Big Bronze" and that at times he thought current LSU coach Trent Johnson was joking when he kept e-mailing photos of what the sculpture would look like.

But what about Shaq wasn't big? There was his size and there was his production, as he racked up 1,941 points and 1,217 rebounds in three seasons at LSU and became national player of the year in 1991. He said the reason he came to LSU -- joking that he chose it over "B.S. colleges like Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida" -- was because of then-coach Dale Brown.

Not everyone is happy O'Neal was honored with a statue, but he did graduate from LSU, and now after retiring from basketball, he is planning to get his doctorate from the school. He said his nearly-completed dissertation is on "The Duality of Humor and Aggression in Leadership Styles."

"A lot of people don't know this, but hopefully I will graduate in December and become Dr. O'Neal," he told reporters. "I've been working on that the past four years. I didn't want to let a lot of people know until I actually became a doctor. I'm working on my dissertation now, and hopefully I pass that, and I'll be Dr. O'Neal. Unfortunately, I will no longer answer to 'Shaq.'"

No matter. With the statue, Shaq's outsized personality and legacy at LSU has been immortalized.

UC Riverside wants new identity and logo

September, 9, 2011
The UC Riverside Highlanders' current athletics logo currently features a bear with half its face painted blue in honor of Scottish hero William Wallace, the subject of the movie "Braveheart" starring Mel Gibson.

The logo was created after students voted to help fund a Division I program in 1998. Now the school is asking its fans to help select a new logo, offering 12 new designs to choose from (Logo No. 12 is the current one).

Should the bear wear a Scottish bonnet? Should it show off its teeth and claws? Should it appear like it just came out of the weight room looking to maul someone? Or should the bear be retired in favor of interlocking letters?

These are the questions new athletic director Brian Wickstrom faces after leaving UTEP to come to the lowest-funded department in the Big West, according to The Press-Enterprise.
"We want to start to build our identity," Wickstrom said.
The first step will be a new logo. The school launched a campaign this week to pick a new logo, with 13 options online. Fans can pick their favorites at The top four selections will be unveiled at Midnight Madness. The new logo is scheduled to be announced at the Nov. 30 basketball game against USC.

Scotty the mascot will remain, but getting a recognizable brand identity out in the public is important, Wickstrom said.

On the court, UC Riverside under coach Jim Wooldridge is coming off back-to-back 12-win seasons. But there are positive signs.

The Highlanders' roster is loaded with returning seniors, and for the future, Wooldridge brought in two potential impact transfers who are from the area in guards Chris Harriel from Portland State and Robert Smith from Santa Clara.

Also, the Highlanders get the aforementioned home game against USC, which will play on the UC Riverside campus for the first time. They play on the road against UTEP. And they're the Big West representative in the 76 Classic, getting an opening-round game against Villanova.

"This is the most difficult and challenging schedule in UCR history" Wooldridge said in a statement. "Our guys are really excited about the pre-conference schedule which should have us prepared for Big West Conference competition."

Maryland court naming up for discussion

September, 9, 2011
Hall of Fame coaches such as John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski and Lute Olson are among those who were honored by having courts named after them in the arenas where they led championship teams.

Maryland officials want the court at the Comcast Center named for Gary Williams as well, with university president Wallace Loh saying at the retirement news conference in May that he and athletic director Kevin Anderson would be recommending it to the school's board of regents.

According to the Baltimore Sun, the matter still needs to be discussed by the regents and that there are some who aren't sure that the court should be named for Williams, who led Maryland to a national championship in 2002.
Williams' supporters often use the word "icon" to describe him. "Gary has been an iconic figure both in Maryland basketball and in the university," said longtime Terrapin Club member and Williams backer Barry DesRoches.

"It should be done," DesRoches said of naming the court for the coach -- an honor bestowed upon former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins and former Arizona coach Lute Olson and his late wife, among others.

Those who question putting Williams' name on the court appear to be a small but potent minority. They argue that such a move could be unfair to others such as the retired coach Lefty Driesell, who was 348-159 in 18 Maryland seasons, and current women's basketball coach Brenda Frese, who -- like Williams -- won a national championship. Some say Maryland, eager for more athletic revenue in this difficult economy, should sell the court's naming rights to a corporate sponsor.

It's a touchy subject because Maryland has to honor Williams in a way that isn't a slight somebody else. Naming a court after him would mean future generations playing on the surface would recognize Williams as the primary figure for having taken the program to great heights.

Whatever the school does, the attention should be focused on the coach's accomplishments rather than any feelings of negativity.

North Texas adds Grambling State star

September, 9, 2011
As a solid mid-major program, North Texas is expected to be in the hunt for its third NCAA tournament bid in the past six seasons.

Coach Johnny Jones plans on having former top-25 recruit Tony Mitchell in December after he enrolled in school last season as a non-qualifier. And the Mean Green might have added another key piece to the puzzle after signing transfer Justin Patton, who led Grambling State in scoring and rebounding as a junior and could become eligible immediately pending NCAA approval.

The 6-foot-7 Patton, who averaged 13.2 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, left a Grambling State program that is ineligible for the postseason due to Academic Progress Rate penalties.

"We are extremely excited to have him as an addition to the program," Jones said in a statement. "I expect him to be a solid contributor to the team."

Patton gives the Mean Green an established scorer at a time when the team has lost its top four scorers from last season and isn't expected to have the 6-foot-8 Mitchell eligible to play until December. Mitchell sat out a year due to academics, and he could eventually form one of the top mid-major frontcourts with Patton.

North Texas saw what Patton was all about last year when he scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds against the team while with Grambling State.

"We were extremely fortunate," Jones told the Denton Record-Chronicle. "We had a scholarship available when we found [Patton] was looking to transfer."

Another player the Mean Green added this offseason is Oklahoma State transfer Roger Franklin, a 6-foot-5 guard and former top-100 recruit.

With that much talent flocking to North Texas, the Mean Green should continue to be a team to watch.
John Beilein's recruiting at Michigan has steadily improved in his tenure, but the Wolverines haven't competed for the truly elite, one-and-done, program-changing recruits that typically reserve their looks for talent powerhouses like Kentucky and North Carolina. You could describe Michigan's recruiting efforts as solid, but there is plenty of room for elite improvement.

That's where Mitch McGary comes in. McGary, whose insane shattered backboard introduced him to a wide swath of non-recruitniks this summer, is the top-ranked center and the No. 2 overall player in the 2012 class. In August, McGary narrowed his list of potential schools. One of those schools was Michigan.

[+] EnlargeMitch McGary
David Dixon/TNL1 Michigan is one of the finalists to land Mitch McGary, the No. 2 overall player in the 2012 class.
Last weekend, McGary took one of his official campus visits to Ann Arbor, Mich. That has Detroit News columnist Sam Webb wondering how close the Wolverines really are to landing McGary. And now that you mention it, with schools like Florida, North Carolina, Duke, Maryland and Kentucky all vying for his services, why would McGary choose Michigan anyway? From Webb:
[...] Part of the reason for Michigan's strong standing is his connection to current Wolverines Zack Novak and Max Bielfeldt, as well as future Wolverine and best friend Glenn Robinson III. Aside from that, though, some observers question whether Michigan holds any legitimate appeal. [...]

And therein lies Michigan's great equalizer in the race for McGary's services. The Wolverines may not have the recent national championship success of their contemporaries, but they do possess a characteristic that could prove just as pivotal, if not more so.

"The post player is intimately and intricately involved in John Beilein's system," [McGary's AAU coach Wayne] Brumm explained. "I don't know anybody who runs a better offensive system for a post player than Michigan. So I have to say, why not (Michigan as a possible destination)? Everybody else is (analyzing McGary's recruitment) like they're a friggin fan. We're trying to pick a school that is in Mitch's best interest."

Webb cites the Wolverines' overtures to Brumm, McGary's AAU coach, as another reason why the school may have a leg up in the recruiting department. Likewise, Brumm and McGary seem to like UM assistant Bacari Alexander, Beilein's designated forwards coach.

Still, Michigan faces some stiff competition. Players as good as McGary typically want to know that their school can compete for a national title the minute they arrive, because time is limited in a one-and-done world. Can Michigan be that team by 2012? It's doubtful. But they are steadily improving. If McGary's coaching preferences and stylistic advantages can outshine the glittery pitches from the UNCs, UKs and Dukes of the world, well, maybe Michigan can get to that level sooner rather than later.

And if it doesn't happen? Oh well. In fact, Michigan fans should still be very excited. The thrilling sensation of hoping on a talent like McGary is not something UM hoops fans have had the chance to experience in quite some time.

J.J. Redick was really, really good

September, 8, 2011
RedickCraig Jones/Getty ImagesOne new measure sheds some light on just how good J.J. Redick's senior season was.
OK, so that's hardly a newsflash. Redick was the national player of the year at Duke. He drained 3-pointers at a prodigious rate. He taunted opponents just as frequently. He was, for pretty much all four years of his Duke career, the most divisive player in all of basketball, let alone the college game.

Also, he wrote poetry.

In other words, telling you J.J. Redick was a good basketball player seems like an awkward thing to do. Duh, right? But there is some new information here. Sports Illustrated's Luke Winn is currently plumbing the depths of Cracked Sidewalks blogger John Pudner's "Value Add" metric, which is explained here. Basically, Value Add is a way -- similar to baseball's Wins Above Replacement (WAR) -- to calculate how much a given player contributes to his team's success compared to a replacement level player holding minutes and usage equal. (It derives its backbone data from Ken Pomeroy's adjusted efficiency statistics. In this case, "replacement level" means a low-level bench player; Luke describes him as the "ninth or 10th man off a major conference bench.")

Winn is using Pudner's formula to calculate the best individual seasons from players in the past decade. Earlier this week, he published an appraisal of the best point guard seasons in the past 10 years. (Jordan Taylor's 2010-11 season was the second-best of the decade. That Jordan Taylor is good at basketball, kids.) Today, Winn reveals the figures for shooting guards and wings. Redick's name sits comfortably atop the list:
1. 9.33%: J.J. Redick, Duke, 2005-06 (Sr.)

(120.2 ORating, 92.5% mins. played, 29.2% poss. used, vs. 0.947 PPP defense)

Redick was the most hated player in college hoops, but he wasn't overrated. He posted his Wooden-and-Naismith worthy numbers going against the second-toughest slate of defenses (average efficiency: 94.7) in the database, and took his game to the next level by adding a slashing element to his already lethal long-range shooting. His senior year goes down as the gold standard for modern-era shooting guards.

The closest player to Redick's senior season was, guess who, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison, whose value add percentage in 2005-06 was 9.03 percent. Third place fell to former Oregon star Luke Jackson, who posted a 7.91 percent value add as a senior in 2003-04. The rest of the top 10 looks a lot like Jackson; the remaining seven value adds all fall somewhere below eight percent but above seven.

In other words, when Redick and Morrison were waging their bi-coastal battle for national player of the year honors in 2005-06 -- in between sessions of Halo 2, that is -- they weren't just providing college hoops fans with a lively national conversation. They were also simultaneously posting the two best seasons of any shooting guards or wings in the past decade. Now, nearly six years on, the hate has cooled to a low burn (at least outside of ACC country) and we can look back and appreciate just how good Redick and his video game cohort were. The answer? Like I said: really, really good.
Longtime readers might remember the name Eric Valentin. In January, the 5-foot-4 Green Bay walk-on set a new world record for the number of half-court shots -- eight, believe it or not -- made in a minute.

That was Valentin's first and really only video exposure in the college hoops webosphere. That is, until today.

As Yahoo!'s Jeff Eisenberg reported last night, Valentin was the recipient of two things at Green Bay practice yesterday, both of which you can see in video form in the previous link. The first was a prank: Green Bay coach Brian Wardle chastised Valentin after the team's first conditioning session, telling the guard he spent too much offseason time at his job and too little time getting conditioned for the upcoming basketball season. Just as Valentin looked fully downtrodden, the coach revealed present No. 2: A full-ride scholarship to play basketball at Green Bay in 2011-12. As he told Jeff:
"Honestly, he got me pretty good," Valentin said by phone Wednesday. "I actually didn't know what was coming. Then he handed me a piece of paper, I saw 'grant in aid' at the top and I knew it was a scholarship. I saw a bunch of money fly back into my pocket, all the money I spent on tuition and books. That was a great feeling."

You have to love the image. If only every parent could get their kid to visualize college tuition as money flying back into their pockets.

Valentin's story could practically serve as a sequel to "Rudy." The diminutive guard didn't reach the five-foot mark until well into his high school career, making his dream of playing college basketball an unlikely one. But Valentin contacted the Green Bay program, met Wardle for an interview, and inspired the staff to take him on as a walk-on.

Now in his senior season, Valentin is no longer just a four-year player (and a world-record holder, which is pretty cool in its own right). He's also a scholarship member of his team. Financially, that's huge. But it's also a symbolic payoff of hard work. Very cool.

Tom Crean counsels upset IU student

September, 8, 2011
Traditionally, Indiana fans are not the most patient in the world. They are used to -- or at least believe they should be used to -- winning.

Fourth-year coach Tom Crean has not done much winning at the school. He's 28-66 at IU, with a grand total of eight Big Ten wins and 46 Big Ten losses. That is not the kind of winning record Indiana fans expect. And yet, despite all the frustration, Hoosier supporters have by and large been remarkably patient.

There are a few reasons for this. One is recruiting; Crean's 2011 and 2012 classes drew much of their talent from inside the state. The 2011 class features top center Cody Zeller, while the 2012 class is one of the best in the country. Another is an understanding of the dire straights the program faced after Kelvin Sampson crashed and burned. But a third reason has to do with Indiana fans' gut feelings. These people seem to genuinely like their coach.

It's stories like this, from CSN Chicago's David Kaplan, that help to explain why. According to Kaplan, he received a call about Crean's interaction with a new freshman at Indiana this fall. The kid was "finding his adjustment to college life to be a difficult one," Kaplan writes, when Crean noticed the upset young man pacing in and out of the the lobby of Indiana's new basketball practice facility. At that point, he apparently decided to step in. From Kaplan:
Crean invited the student into his office and proceeded to hear his story and counseled the young man on how difficult the transition to college can be and encouraged him to stick with it. He also introduced the student to the rest of his staff and he got him an opportunity to work around the basketball program as a member of the athletic department.

The young man had turned off his cell phone after telling his parents that he needed to take a walk and think and his parents were very worried when they were unable to reach him. When Crean inquired as to whether the young man had spoken with his parents recently the young man said no. Crean called the parents, gave them his personal contact information and told them he would look out for their son. After arranging for a job in the athletic department the young man is reported to be doing very well and has adjusted to life away from home.

When I reached Crean today he didn’t want to comment, calling it a private matter but he did say that he hoped as the father of three kids that if the roles were reversed that someone would do something to help one of his kids should they be in a tough spot.

The story is a bit vague on what the young man was going through, but it almost doesn't matter. For many, the adjustment to college life is as joyous as it is frightening. For some, it's just frightening. And it can be hard to notice when someone feels so lost. When I was a freshman at Indiana -- full disclosure and all -- a floormate committed suicide by jumping out of his eighth-story window. None of us knew he was feeling upset. We just didn't notice.

Crean noticed, and then went a step further: He counseled the kid, offered him a prominent spot in the Hoosier community and reached out to his parents to let them know everything was OK. What's more, some coaches would flaunt this kind of story. They'd use it as a win-win -- I helped this kid, and hey, aren't I a great guy too? Similar to his quiet efforts to search for missing Indiana student Lauren Spierer earlier this year, Crean didn't do that, either. Impressive stuff.

At the end of the day, IU fans want to win. Given his recent recruiting success, Crean is likely to eventually produce those results. In the meantime, if you're wondering why so many Indiana fans have been so tolerant of three-straight sub-NIT seasons -- why everyone was so willing to get so excited after something so meager as a home win over Illinois -- this kind of story has a lot to do with it.

(Hat tip: Inside The Hall, where the commenters offer a good cross-section of what I'm talking about above.)

Abdul Gaddy now officially good to go

September, 8, 2011
Yesterday, we briefly touched on Abdul Gaddy's previously tweeted goal of making 18,000 jump shots before the start of practice on Wednesday, Oct. 15. Gaddy had already sank around 8,000 buckets -- and he's probably made more since -- so I sort of assumed that the ACL injury that kept him out of much of the 2011 season was, in fact, healing as planned. It didn't really cross my mind.

A few hours later, it did, and for good reason: Last night, Washington doctors officially proclaimed Gaddy able to return to full basketball drills, beginning immediately. The clearance comes nine months after Gaddy tore his ACL in practice on Jan. 4.

The Associated Press story linked above has one interesting tidbit:
Gaddy says that late in the spring he started to feel as if he was completely back, but doctors didn't sign off on Gaddy going all out on the court until Wednesday.

Gaddy tore his ACL in January. By "late spring" he felt like he could get back on the court. The doctors waited. But still -- if ACL surgeries and treatments continue to progress at this technological rate, there may come a time when we're able to cure ACL injuries in the middle of a game. (Fantasy football owners would love this.) Gaddy tore his ACL and felt fine -- even if it wasn't medically safe for him to play -- four months later. Four months! Even the nine-month clearance window is remarkably shorter than what it used to be. An ACL injury used to be career-threatening. Now it's merely a long-term inconvenience.

Anyway, Gaddy finally can go back to more than shooting drills. But he does still have around 10,000 shots to can over the next five weeks. Maybe his workout won't change much after all.

Marc Trasolini tears ACL during trip home

September, 7, 2011
Santa Clara forward Marc Trasolini will miss the upcoming season with a torn left anterior cruciate ligament, and the Broncos lost their second-leading scorer in cruel fashion.

Trasolini, a native of Vancouver, Canada, suffered the injury while playing in front of a hometown crowd during the Broncos' exhibition loss to Trinity Western University on Tuesday. The senior came down on the leg after attempting a shot within the game's first two minutes, and was sidelined for the rest of the evening.

After meeting with doctors Wednesday, the ACL tear was confirmed.

"Obviously I am really disappointed about what happened last night," Trasolini said in a statement. "But I am trying my best to stay positive, get back on track as soon as I can and do what it takes to help the team by being a leader and supporting them. All my teammates and coaches have been really supportive and I really appreciate that. I know they will be there for me and I will be there for them. It’s pretty bad it happened here on this trip, but it’s worse I can’t play this season. It hurts. It hurts a lot. But I will get better and be back next season."

Trasolini, who averaged 12.8 points and 6.1 rebounds as a junior, is Santa Clara's lone scholarship senior on a team that was riding high from its run to the CIT championship. The Broncos were to have returned their top three scorers, but now their chances in the West Coast Conference might have been dealt a significant blow.

For Trasolini to have experienced a significant injury during a trip when hundreds of his family members and friends were expected to come see him play is difficult to imagine. Santa Clara had planned its preseason tour with the idea that the program would get him a trip home, and his family hosted the team for dinner Wednesday after receiving the bad news.

"Marc has done everything, and I mean everything right, to put himself into the position to have a great senior year and for this to happen, especially considering the circumstances, is disheartening and unfortunate," coach Kerry Keating said in a statement. "Marc did an unbelievable job of preparing himself in mind and body this spring and summer after having a terrific junior season to have an even better senior season and help lead the team to new heights, which he will have do now from the sidelines while he rehabs his injury and gets ready to have that terrific season the following year.

"Any time someone like Marc, who will graduate this spring with honors and hopefully start his MBA, has that taken away, you hope that they will have a second chance on the court and fortunately he will. We are fortunate to have access to a great medical staff that will help get him back up and running properly. We look forward to supporting him and helping give him any added strength he will need to get through the surgery and rehab. I also look forward to working with him next spring to make sure he has a terrific senior year in a year. We look forward to welcoming him back next year on the court."

Video: Katz on latest realignment drama

September, 7, 2011
PM ET's Andy Katz on his report that eight Big 12 schools will only waive their right to pursue litigation if Oklahoma agrees to stay in the Big 12.

Yearlong college sports shutdown needed?

September, 7, 2011
Dave Bliss, the former Baylor coach who once attempted to posthumously portray Patrick Dennehy as a drug dealer in order to cover up his payments to the murdered player, appears to be down on the current state of college athletics. As Bliss recently told The Oklahoman, "When I watch the college scene now, I still see the same pressures I cajoled to."


With every week, there is another headline and a new sign of the collegiate athletics apocalypse. There are scandals as well as a deep cynicism that as has seemingly blanketed the landscape. So the NCAA talked about reform during its two-day retreat for university presidents last month, which is nice.

But if it were left up to former coach Dave Odom, college sports would shut down or a year or two just to figure it all out.

Odom, the Maui Invitational tournament chairman who coached at South Carolina, Wake Forest and East Carolina, told the Asheville Citizen-Times he is embarrassed by the state of college sports and that the presidents would need that much time to reform the system.
"What should happen, but it will never happen, the presidents should shut down college sports for a whole year or two. Have a series of meetings with academic people who have direct responsibility for a model for the future of college athletics.

"Rewrite the rule book and come back and do things the right way. That's what should happen.

"What will happen, I'm afraid, is the greed of money and fame is going to be stronger than the rationale of what's best for the college student-athlete, and the super conferences are going to break off from the rest of the schools, and all that will matter is money and winning championships."

Yes, college sports is so troubling that a veteran coach with 22 seasons of coaching experience who recruited Tim Duncan to Wake Forest and went to the Elite Eight with him, is wishing for at least a yearlong shutdown so the NCAA can get it together.

Because something in the system is apparently broken and needs a lot of fixing.

Duke professor releases trick shot video

September, 7, 2011

At Duke, it's not only Kyle Singler who has a trick shot video of himself getting buckets all over campus. Even a Duke professor is getting into the act.

Robert Kamei, the vice dean of education at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School in Singapore, attempted to channel his inner Singler in a video called, "Bob Gets Buckets Too."

Kamei doesn't get to make a shot from the top of a chapel, but does manage to connect from the ninth floor of the medical school -- about 100 feet high.

He earns praise from Duke president Richard Brodhead and even coach Mike Krzyzewski, who muses, "How the heck did we miss this guy?"

The video was put together in order to align Dukes basketball's reputation with the medical school's and encourage prospective students to apply. "Let your impossible become reality" is the message.

If a professor can sink a shot from 100 feet out, it's hard to argue with that.

UConn sought other roster-reducing fixes

September, 7, 2011
When Connecticut got word that mega-recruit Andre Drummond was willing to enroll for this season instead of next, there were a few options for the Huskies in order to open up a scholarship.

The obvious one was someone leaving the team, even if that meant a possible hit to the Academic Performance Rating. UConn did make efforts, according to multiple sources, to see if there was interest in 7-foot-1 center Enosch Wolf. Rhode Island and Towson were called about Wolf and both schools had a scholarship available.

According to sources, both schools were led to believe the sophomore from Germany would be coming to them. But then Wolf, according to sources, decided against leaving the Huskies, even though he will have to battle Drummond, Alex Oriakhi, Tyler Olander and Michael Bradley for playing time.

Once Wolf decided to stay put, that’s when the option of pursuing financial aid from Bradley was discussed. Bradley had to voluntarily decide to go on the aid, which he has, and as a result the Huskies have 10 scholarship players on the roster, 11 who were recruited to be there this season.

Both URI and Towson were looking at Wolf as a positive addition -- a big man who could potentially develop into a much more productive player at their level. But Wolf didn’t want to leave and the Huskies weren’t going to run him off the team unwillingly. That would have likely been a hit on their APR, not to mention horrible PR.

So Wolf stays and will now earn his playing time as best he can on a team that will start the preseason in the top five. Every coach in the country would take Drummond on their roster if they could -- even if there were no available scholarships. If the NCAA doesn't want this to happen, then the Committee on Infractions could get tougher or the APR penalty could be stricter in its language concerning scholarship reductions.

But that's not the case, so UConn was able to pull this off and make it work to its advantage. Not a single coach I’ve talked to on this subject would have done anything different. That's not a defense of Connecticut or a justification of the "creative" juggling that goes on with rosters. It is, however, the current reality.