October 20, 2006
Each Friday I write about the sport I love, college basketball.
It was great to hear that former Purdue coach Gene Keady will receive the John Wooden Legends Award in Los Angeles this April. Other coaches who have received the honor in recent years include Dean Smith, Lute Olson, Mike Krzyzewski, Denny Crum, Jim Boeheim and Jim Calhoun. Keady won over 500 games in his career and led Purdue to six Big Ten titles.
Mixed news in the state of Kansas. The Jayhawks suspended center CJ Giles and coach Bill Self said that until his big man gets his personal issues settled, he will not practice with the team nor participate with the program. Good news for Bob Huggins at Kansas State. Cartier Martin has been reinstated to the program and he should be a big factor in the Big 12 this season. Hopefully Mr. Martin will learn from this situation and be a better person and player down the line.
In the Chicago area, keep an eye on Loyola. The Ramblers are picked to win the Horizon League and have five key seniors, led by 6-7 Blake Schilb. Loyola has momentum after recording its best season since 1984-85, an impressive 19-11 last year.
There is a great doubleheader on December 2nd at the US Airways Center in Phoenix. The Basketball Hall of Fame Challenge features Gonzaga vs. Texas and Illinois against Arizona. It will serve as a fundraiser and celebration for the Hall of Fame. The plan is for different cities to host it each season. For Lute Olson, it is part of a tough week -- facing Illinois and also facing Louisville at the Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden.
It has been a tough start for a number of teams that have suffered injuries early on. At Duke, Greg Paulus will be sidelined with a left foot injury suffered in the second practice of the season. UCLA's Lorenzo Mata was sidelined with a knee injury that required surgery. Andy Kennedy's Ole Miss team received a blow as junior center Dwayne Curtis is out 2-4 weeks. The preseason All-SEC player suffered a stress fracture in his left foot during the third day of preseason practice. Kennedy said he will make sure Curtis is completely ready before he starts playing again. Curtis averaged 13.6 points and 7.6 rebounds last season. Missouri junior Glen Dandridge broke his right foot in workouts and is out 6-8 weeks.
Louisville coach Rick Pitino understood why the NCAA decided to suspend Derrick Caracter for the first three games of the season – the young man accepted money from a friend of the family. That individual worked with a sports agent and the money was repaid. Now Pitino has revealed another issue as Caracter came into school out of shape. Pitino desired the young man to come in at around 285, working himself down to less than 270 for the start of the season. Pitino has said the young man will sit unless he shows better work habits on and off the court. Hopefully Caracter will learn that this is serious and he has to improve his conditioning. The word potential comes to mind when thinking about this diaper dandy.
Purdue coach Matt Painter and Illinois coach Bruce Weber battle in the Big Ten, but they are teaming up for a Coaches vs. Cancer event at the Beef House restaurant in Covington, Indiana on November 9th. Fans will be able to ask questions and get insight on the two Big Ten squads for the upcoming campaign.
Detroit got some good news as guard Brandon Cotton was granted an extra year of eligibility. Cotton sat out the 2003-04 season at Michigan State due to a stress fracture in his foot after playing just three games. Cotton will now have two years of eligibility remaining at Detroit.
Tubby Smith landed a fine recruit when 6-8 forward AJ Stewart, a standout from Florida, committed to the Wildcats. Stewart picked Kentucky over the likes of Florida State, Illinois and Kansas State, so you know he was a desired prospect.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.