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UCLA’s Basketball Season Just Went from Bad to Even Crappier

UCLA is 2-4 on the season with losses to local schools reminiscent of the Steve Lavin era. The Bruins lost their opener to Cal State Fullerton, struggled to beat Cal State Bakersfield, and they got obliterated by Portland, whatever that is. After a run of three straight Final Fours, Bruins fans began to be spoiled and wound up disappointed when the team lost to Villanova in the second round last season. If they only knew what laid ahead. Michael Roll is the team’s leading scorer while Malcolm Lee appears to be one of the only legitimate playmakers. Things get really brutal after that considering the news that came down Tuesday that big man Drew Gordon would be transferring. Andy Katz explained some of the issues:

According to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, Gordon’s conduct was detrimental to the team. He was not viewed as having positive energy in the locker room. Yet, during last weekend’s 76 Classic in Anaheim, the UCLA staff said Gordon had to be the focal point offensively in the post.

That’s the Howland perspective, I’m guessing. Gordon’s mother says Drew’s transferring because Howland’s style doesn’t befit him. All I know is that the players aren’t getting it done, regardless of the style. Putting aside that Kansas is coming to Pauley this weekend, almost any opponent on the schedule has to be considered a threat. It’s going to be a long, long season for the Bruins. As long as they don’t fall behind Oregon State in the cellar I’ll be semi-satisfied. I’m glad that Ben Howland asserted himself and reminded everyone that they need to play by his rules (not bigs who bomb three-pointers the way Gordon did). Now Bruins fans need to close their eyes and wait for next year when some of the top recruits will hit campus.

Tom Izzo Brings Down the House at Midnight Madness

Friday night was Midnight Madness across the country in college basketball because Saturday is the first day schools can officially begin practicing. Many programs put on a show for their fans but none may have matched Michigan State’s display in East Lansing. They had more electronics there than a freaking KISS concert. You think they roll out that kind of red carpet for some marching band? Gimme a break — it was for Tom Izzo. Check out the festivities:

Yes, that was Izzo the great rolling into the gym in a freaking Formula 1 racecar. ESPN has a video compilation of the Midnight Madness parties. Georgetown and Kansas had some cool ones and then you had Kentucky roll out John Calipari to make a speech like he was Barack freaking Obama. Crazy people. As if having NFL, college football, NHL, MLB playoffs, and NBA preseason wasn’t enough, we now have Midnight Madness. I’m officially on overload.

So That’s What He Had Stashed in the Unibrow …

It was a sad day on Wednesday when former Binghamton standout Emanuel “Tiki” Mayben was arrested for possession with intent to sell cocaine. You might better remember him as the guy who tried to make the unibrow famous in March Madness but failed when his team lost to Duke in the first round. Mayben was recruited to play at Syracuse out of high school but it never materialized because of grades. He played a season at UMass then went to Hudson Valley CC where they went 30-1, and he played last year at Binghamton.

There was actually an indictment from him selling several months ago as he was as part of an investigation of the cocaine game in Troy, New York. Mayben’s already been kicked off the team and we’ll probably never hear from him or Binghamton again. Let’s just hope the unibrow earns him cool points in jail.

Duke Deserves a Banner Taken Down

cameron-indoor-stadium-banners

With Memphis crying over having to take down one of its finest banners in program history because of the Derrick Rose SAT scandal, some people are saying the NCAA isn’t handling punishments evenly. Contributor JS emails in with a story from Gary Parrish at CBS Sports who says Duke got away with having Corey Maggette on their Final Four team in 1999 even though it was found out that Maggette took money while he was in high school. Duke still has the banner hanging at Cameron Indoor and Coach K still has all the wins on his record.

I’m guessing the NCAA just wants to be sympathetic because it’s reflective of the last time Duke was any good, but it really does show their selective enforcement of violations. If Maggette took money from AAU corrupter Myron Piggie (remember him, UCLA fans?), why wasn’t that season stricken from the Duke records? And an even better point (though extremely more difficult to gauge enforcement) is made by JS: why doesn’t the NCAA return the money it made off Memphis and Duke those years? Perhaps that’s why they’re so slow to dole out punishments.

President Obama Warning Oregon State that Craig Robinson Is in Demand

Craig Robinson led Oregon State to an impressive turnaround season this past year. The team went 18-18 and 7-11 in conference play which was quite an improvement from their hideous 6-25 and 0-18 showing the previous year. With many head coaching openings out there, his name was tossed around, but never seriously considered for the major jobs such as Arizona, Memphis, or Kentucky. Outside of a few years at Brown, he only has the one season of experience at Oregon State. But a few more steps in the right direction and you never know what might happen. Robinson’s brother-in-law, President Obama has the same mentality and has already put Oregon State on notice:

“Craig Robinson is an outstanding coach. I think he’s shown that. I’m just stating facts. Anybody in Oregon and anybody who knows sports knows he turned it around. He loves Corvallis and I’m sure that as a young, successful coach he’s going to start getting offers.”

In these times when schools and fans grow unsatisfied quickly, it wouldn’t be surprising to see someone act fast in hiring Robinson, especially if he has another good season at OSU. With President Obama on his side, imagine the type of pull he’d have in recruiting. Who would turn him down? About the only limitation would be the Ivy League mentality he has and the Princeton Offense, which isn’t exactly designed for elite talent, so maybe he’d have to consider a new system. And you know whoever does get him will be praying for reelection.

Just How Crooked Was the Memphis Basketball Program Under Calipari?

We’ve already discussed some of the alleged violations committed by the Memphis program regarding Derrick Rose’s bogus SAT test. I indicted John Calipari saying that he likely knew what was going on with Rose. When the report about Rose having his high school grades changed came out, it only further confirmed my suspicion. Well now there’s a report by Gary Parrish suggesting that four-year forward Robert Dozier also had SAT issues but was still accepted by Memphis:

According to a source, Dozier took the SAT once before trying to enroll at Georgia, but that score was flagged after the school received a tip that the score might be “fishy.” At the time, Georgia was still dealing with charges of academic fraud under Jim Harrick and determined to be extra careful with everything. So the school asked Dozier to take the SAT again, and a source with knowledge of the situation told CBSSports.com that the second score was “not enough to resolve the issue.” Put another way, Georgia officials were not properly convinced the first test and second test were taken by the same person, which led to the end of Dozier’s time as a Georgia recruit in August 2004.

That sounds like it all makes sense to me. Dozier wound up committing to Memphis for a second time about a month after his second SAT test. Before that, he attended Laurinberg Prep along with three other future Tigers. That makes me wonder what kind of shady relationship Memphis and Calipari had with this Laurinberg Prep. Regardless, whatever doubt that may have existed regaring Calipari’s knowledge of Rose’s issues have now been eliminated. This is what we call a disturbing pattern, my friends. But as long as he continues to bring in the top quality players, Kentucky won’t care. That is, until the NCAA comes investigating, which they already should be doing.

Sounds Like John Calipari Helped Derrick Rose Cheat on the SAT

Hmm, so Memphis offers John Calipari more money than Kentucky in the immediate future but Cal jumps to Lexington, saying that coaching at Kentucky was his dream job? I guess it’s entirely possible, but now something tells me he was ready to jump ship so quickly because he knew the NCAA was getting ready to crack down on Memphis for major violations. Yeah, I’d say knowing a guy cheated on the SAT is a pretty big deal. The Memphis Commercial Appeal says the Memphis program is being accused by the NCAA of major violations:

The allegations include “knowing fraudulence or misconduct” on an SAT exam by a player on the 2007-08 team.

The NCAA alleged the prospective player became eligible after an “unknown individual” completed his SAT. The player, said the NCAA, “subsequently competed for the men’s basketball team through the 2007-08 season, which included his participation in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.”

The only player who fits the description in the report (a guy who only played on the team during the ’07-’08 season) is Derrick Rose who’s currently with the Bulls. The punishment as of now is that the team could forfeit its 38-win season and Final Four appearance of two seasons ago. I’m pretty sure the punishment will be much harsher — almost program killing — if the allegations are proven to be true. And they better darn well follow Calipari to Kentucky — he can’t just escape the problems and violations he committed by running away from them. They should follow him the way Kelvin Sampson’s problems followed him to Indiana.

Maybe this will temper all that excitement created when John Wall said he’d go to Kentucky. And maybe now this also explains why the school fired Billy Gillispie — they knew Calipari wanted to get out of Memphis and that they’d be able to sign him. Ahah! Everything’s starting to come together!