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Roundball Chatter


•At the Final Four, I saw something that really concerned me. Our game is the only one that penalizes athletes with that whistle. Baseball, hockey, football, tennis, golf, none of them disqualify players the way that basketball does. Greg Oden picked up two fouls in less than three minutes in the national semifinal, and that may lead to him going to the NBA early. You could see the frustration on his face. I feel it is time to change the rules and go with six fouls for disqualification. The players have gotten bigger, the dimension of the court (94 X 50) has stayed the same. The bodies are so big, you could blow the whistle all day in the post. Looking at Oden and Roy Hibbert, the Goliaths sitting on the bench, was tough. I would even go a step further to allow players with six fouls to stay in, with a penalty of two fouls shots and the ball to the team hit by somebody at seven fouls. If a coach wants to leave a player in, he is taking a chance. A whistle can take a star player and valuable asset and I don't blame Oden for wanting to leave over touch fouls.

•I have to feel for the fans at Kansas State. They had enthusiasm and passion with the hiring of Bob Huggins, and then after one season he decided to go to his alma mater, West Virginia. I understand why Huggins made the move, but it had to be tough for the fans in Manhattan, Kansas. Huggins did a great job in his one season at Kansas State, leading them to a 23-12 season. Now the big question is, what will happen to Bill Walker and Michael Beasley, two key recruits of Huggins. Walker was eligible last season and suffered a season-ending injury.

•Huggins took the job vacated when John Beilein took the Michigan opening. Word is Beilein accepted the position without even visiting the Ann Arbor campus. That shows you the power of that word MICHIGAN! The Wolverines have an athletic program that is national in stature. This move gives Michigan the opportunity to recruit players from all over, and Beilein must get familiar with the Detroit public league. That becomes a must and you need them supporting you. So many kids from that league have made it over the years.

•Todd Lickliter gets a great opportunity to go to the big stage at Iowa. He had success at Butler, and schools like that becomes a breeding ground for the big guys. Just look at Barry Collier, now the school's athletic director, who was at Nebraska. Thad Matta went from Butler to Xavier to Ohio State and now Lickliter moves on. Learning how to develop that winner's mentality in a basketball environment like Butler really trains you for the big time. Lickliter will bring his expertise in controlling tempo. Now Iowa's recruiting must be elevated to compete with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois.

•Jeff Bzdelik is a natural fit at Colorado. He is the right guy at the right time for the Buffs. He knows how to win and he did an amazing job at Air Force. Bzdelik is a brilliant X and O expert. Meanwhile the Falcons are looking for their fourth head coach in five years. Bzdelik needs to put together a first-class staff, including a hard-working recruiter to help get players to compete in the Big 12 against the likes of Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma. I think he should consider hiring a dynamic recruiter like Tom Abatemarco, who worked for years with Jimmy Valvano, Lefty Driesell and Lou Carnesecca to name a few. Abatemarco is familiar with the school having worked under Joe Harrington.

•I was thrilled to see Bowling Green's decision to hire Louis Orr as head coach. Here's a guy who really deserves to be around kids to impart his knowledge and wisdom. Orr took Seton Hall to two NCAA berths in his last three seasons there, was let go by the Pirates. He was from Cincinnati before going to Syracuse. He is ready for this challenge and the Mid-American Conference is fortunate to get a quality guy.

•This is the time of the year where some kids decide to transfer. It is often about playing time, and now some players opt to move on, chasing that new opportunity. For some it is the right thing to do, while others make a mistake by getting impatient, wanting instant gratification. They should work hard to earn playing time. Others leave to move closer to home. Among recent players opting to transfer were California guard Omar Wilkes, Indiana forward Xavier Keeling, Purdue guard Chris Lutz and St. John's guard Avery Patterson.

•Iona made a good hire, bringing in Kevin Willard as its new head coach. I thought Jeff Ruland got a raw deal from the school that he led as a player. Ruland handled himself well in adversity this season. Willard has earned the right to be a head coach in Division I, coming from great stock. His dad, Ralph, has done a great job at Holy Cross. Kevin learned his trade well under Rick Pitino; just look at what Reggie Theus did at New Mexico State as a former Pitino protégé. Look at some of the other former Pitino staffers and names like Billy Donovan, Tubby Smith and Herb Sendek ring out. The beat goes on and they learn every phase of the game under Pitino and serving an apprenticeship with him is like working with a renowned artist studying to be a painter.

•The first Big East vs. SEC Challenge has been set from December 5-6. Four schools will represent each conference in this format. This season will feature West Virginia vs. Auburn and Georgetown vs. Alabama in Birmingham on December 5th. Then the second night has South Carolina against Providence and LSU facing Villanova in Philadelphia on December 6th. It helps put together competitive match-ups and cuts down on early-season cupcakes.

Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.