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WOW Headlines – 3/19/13

The NCAA has decided not to implement controversial changes to its recruiting rulebook
The changes would have allowed schools to hire extra recruiters and to mail an unlimited amount of correspondence to prospects
Florida’s Billy Donovan has been named the AP’s SEC Basketball Coach of the Year
Georgia F Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has been named the SEC Basketball Player of the Year
Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy on his brash star guard: “The Marshall Henderson Show is like the traveling circus”
Tennessee coach Cuonzo Martin says the NCAA’s decision to invite just three SEC teams to this year’s tournament shows a “lack of respect”
Follow the Southeastern Conference each day at MrSEC.com and twitter.com/mrsec

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WOW Headlines – 3/13/13

SEC Tournament Wednesday Night Results
Mississippi State 70, South Carolina 59
Texas A&M 71, Auburn62
Thursday SEC Tournament Games…
LSU vs Georgia…Tennessee vs Mississippi State…Vanderbilt vs Arkansas…Texas A&M vs Missouri
Florida’s Billy Donovan was named the SEC’s Coach of the Year
Georgia F Kentavious Caldwell-Pope was named the SEC’s Player of the Year
Vanderbilt DT Jared Morse is currently away from school after breaking a team rule, though coach James Franklin is hopeful he can return
East Tennessee State is considering re-starting its football program and on top of the school’s wish list of coaches is former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer
In 2011-12, Kentucky made $21.6 million in basketball revenue, tops in the SEC
Ole Miss made $5.9 in basketball revenue in 2011-12, the worst number in the SEC

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Hoops Coaches: UK’s Calipari and UF’s Donovan Tops Among Rule-Benders

Bend, but don’t break.

In the latest installment of CBSSports.com’s multi-part survey of anonymous college basketball coaches, the question was simple: “Which coach is best at bending the rules but not breaking them?”

Unfortunately for Mike Slive and his ongoing attempts to clean up the SEC’s reputation, two of his conference’s coaches topped the list — Kentucky’s John Calipari was named by 13% of the “nearly 100 coaches” polled while Florida’s Billy Donovan was mentioned by 11%.

Sean Miller (Arizona), Tom Crean (Indiana), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Roy Williams (North Carolina), Tom Izzo (Michigan State) and Josh Pastner (Memphis) all were mentioned by at least 5% of the respondents.

One coach said of Calipari: “Everyone says he cheats, but when has he been caught?”  Wildcat fans will be quick to shout that that might just mean he doesn’t break or bend rules at all.

As for Donovan, one unnamed coach stated: “Billy is, or at least he used to be, the best.  He’s the one who came up with the idea of elite camps.  He’s just really smart.  He knows how to get things done.”

Naturally, this isn’t a list most coaches would want to make.  But it’s better than making a rule-breaker list.

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Carolina’s Martin Not Worried About Transfers

Readers of this site know that this particular writer believes one reason college basketball is falling farther and farther behind college football in terms of popularity is the game’s transient nature.  Whether it’s schools like Kentucky who bring in a fresh batch of one-and-doners every year — how long before every NBA roster is made up of just UK kids, by the way? — or the growing number of transfers from one school to another, it’s becoming harder and harder for fans to connect with the players on Hometown U’s roster.

Yesterday, the fact that nearly 450 Division I players have transferred in the past year was clearly an issue for most of the basketball coaches taking part in the SEC’s teleconference.

Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings laid the blame on society’s need — and therefore players’ need — for “instant gratification.”  Florida’s Billy Donovan blamed NCAA restrictions that kept coaches and players from getting to know each other better before signing day.

Auburn’s Tony Barbee added, “It’s obvious there’s too many (transfers).  I think all of the coaches would agree.”

But according to Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun, new South Carolina coach Frank Martin does not agree:

 

“Too many people are making too big of a deal on transfers at the Division I level.  Kids are transferring three or four times in high school, it’s not like they are going to get to college and all of the sudden have an epiphany and decide to do things differently…

Transferring doesn’t make anyone a failure.  It doesn’t mean the program is a failure, it doesn’t mean the young man is a failure.

If something is not right, if the young man is not happy, it’s going to be hard for everyone to coexist and it’s going to be healthy for the young man and the program to part ways. There is nothing more important in this business than the success of the young people, and if they are not having success they should have the right to transfer. As long as things are being done the right way, they should be allowed to transfer.”

 

From the looks of him, I wouldn’t expect Martin to be much of a softie, but I have to congratulate him on his view.  While discussing 10 ways to improve college football back in May, I made it clear that as long as a player is in good academic standing and protecting his current school’s APR score, then he should be allowed to transfer without penalty or delay.  It’s about doing what’s right for the athlete.

But what’s best for the athlete might not be what’s best for the sport of college basketball as a whole.  I tend to side with the teenager over the millionaire coach, the multi-million dollar program, and multi-multi-million dollar industry whenever such a case arises.  In this case, however, doing what’s right by the player only makes the game even more transient.  And that is an issue the NCAA and the powers-that-be in college basketball will eventually have to tackle if they don’t want to become a tournament-only sport… which we’re fast approaching already.

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UK’s Calipari Wants The SEC’s Schedule To Put Teams In The NCAA Tourney First And Foremost

In an old-fashioned, tradition-rich league like the SEC, winning the conference is supposed to mean something.  But Kentucky’s John Calipari has proven time and again that he understands the current lay of the land in basketball on a national perspective as well as anyone.

And that current landscape means NCAA Tournament seeding is more important than conference championship banners.  Especially at a school like UK.

For that reason, Calipari’s in favor of an SEC hoops schedule that would match up the stronger teams against the stronger teams and the weaker teams against the weaker teams each year:

 

“Get your best teams in a group and let them place twice.  Have your teams that are struggling or rebuilding play twice so that nobody is overwhelmed and your conference RPI is now off the charts…

(And if that means an average team could capture the league crown?)  Is that what it’s about, who wins the league or the league tournament?  Or is it about your seed in the NCAA Tournament?  How many teams do we want in the NCAA Tournament?  Do you want three or four, or do you want six or seven? If you want six or seven, this scheduling matters.”

 

Florida’s Billy Donovan pointed out that Coach Cal’s plan would require projecting which teams would be good or bad in a given year, but he also admitted: “Anything you throw out right now model-wise you’re going to be able to poke holes in it and say is not right.”

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SEC Headlines – 3/21/12 Part One

1.  Here’s more on the promotion of Greg Sankey to Executive Associate Commissioner and COO of the SEC.  (Along with word that future scheduling formats for sports not named football and basketball should come out soon.)

2.  Florida’s Billy Donovan is proving again that he’s among college basketball’s coaching elite.

3.  Mike Gillislee is working on his pass protection skills while readying to be the Gators’ top running back this fall.

4.  The legal issues of Georgia starting corner Sanders Commings have been resolved.  (Probation, small fine.)

5.  With all eyes on UGA’s running backs position, Isaiah Crowell is the #1 back and he wants to make “a Heisman run.”

6.  Here are five questions about Kentucky as the Cats open spring drills.

7.  With UK preparing for a rematch with Indiana in the Sweet Sixteen, this writer looks back at how the Big Blue lost to the Hoosiers in December.

8.  Uh, wow.  Like Bobby Knight actually uttered the word “Kentucky” and Twitter shook.

9.  The results of South Carolina AD Eric Hyman’s previous coaching searches: Mixed.  (Of course, that’s pretty much the case with every other AD out there.  Hush Gator fans… remember Ron Zook?)

10.  Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall reportedly turned down a Nebraska offer worth nearly $2 million per year.  (And that type money might take him out of the Gamecocks’ price range.)

11.  With the season complete, Tennessee forward Jeronne Maymon had knee surgery yesterday.

12.  Renaldo Woolridge received a medical redshirt from the NCAA, but he’s leaving UT (and another spot is about to open up on Cuonzo Martin’s roster).

13.  Missouri’s Gary Pinkel says he’s not worried about what quarterback James Franklin’s health will be come fall.

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SEC Headlines – 3/13/12 Part Two

1.  Florida’s Billy Donovan expected a #5 or #6 seed in the NCAA tourney.  Now he says it’s time to get over being a #7 seed and play ball.

2.  Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo isn’t the only person in Georgia upset over receiver Malcolm Mitchell’s move to cornerback.

3.  Expect to see more starters on the Dawgs’ special teams units.

4.  No surprise: Kentucky’s Anthony Davis has picked up a National Freshman of the Year honor.

5.  Depending on a play-in game, UK could face cross-state rival Western Kentucky or former-Wildcat-turned-coach Sean Woods of Mississippi Valley State in its first game.

6.  Oddsmakers in Vegas are listing Kentucky as the tourney favorite.

7.  There are plenty of questions as South Carolina wades into spring practice.

8.  Tennessee’s players are hoping they’ll have a home crowd cheering them on against Savannah State tonight.

9.  This writer says the NIT will offer several Vols a shot at redemption.

10.  Vanderbilt will head into the NCAA Tournament with confidence.

11.  Jeffery Taylor has had success in Albuquerque, where his Commodores will play Harvard.

12.  Week One of spring practice is in the books at Missouri.

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UF’s Donovan Calls UK’s Davis “One Of The Best Of All Time”

If anyone was feeling that Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis needed even further praise for his tremendous, record-setting season, Florida’s Billy Donovan has provided it:


“I think he’s definitely one of the best of all time.  When you start talking about Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain and guys like that, I mean, I can’t probably go that far back.  But certainly here in recent time, the last 20-25 years, he’s as good as anybody.”


Davis has 139 blocked shots on the season.  Only five other D-I players have more than 100.  And Davis’ total is greater than 306 D-I teams.  Defensively, he simply changes games by his lonesome.

But offensively he’s become a weapon as well.  Davis is currently averaging 14.3 points per game (and 17.8 points per game over his last eight contests).

In addition, he’s averaging 9.8 rebounds per game.  All from a true freshman.

An all-time great?  For one year’s work it’s hard to argue with Donovan.

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UF’s Donovan Likes The Cut Of UK’s Jib

After seeing Kentucky up close and personal in a 78-58 loss last night, Florida’s Billy Donovan has high praise for John Calipari’s team:


“The one thing I like about their team is I love their disposition on the floor.  There’s a certain disposition you have to have and I’m not talking about an arrogance or a cockiness, but there’s like a focus level in terms of what really goes into winning at that level.  There’s a mentality there.”


Donovan — whose Gators lost to #2 Syracuse earlier this season — also said #1 Kentucky has a bit more talent than the Orange in that they have six future NBA first-round picks on their roster.  Still, “it would be a heck of a game,” he said.

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SEC Headlines – 11/29/11 AM Edition

1.  Alabama’s Nick Saban wants BCS voters to be fair when picking the two best teams in the country.  (Sidenote: Even Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy said he’d have a hard time voting his Cowboys ahead of Bama.)

2.  Auburn went to 4-0 last night, but Tony Barbee says he’s “not enjoying coaching their group right now.”

3.  The University of Arkansas football team said their goodbyes as former teammate Garrett Uekman was laid to rest yesterday in Little Rock.

4.  Les Miles believes safety Eric Reid will be ready to play when LSU faces Georgia on Saturday.

5.  Gunter Brewer is Ole Miss’ one-man recruiting staff at the moment.

6.  Mississippi State defensive tackle Fletcher Cox says he plans “on coming back” for his senior season.

7.  Florida’s Billy Donovan locked up his 400th career victory last night.

8.  Georgia’s assistants will be receiving bonuses for winning the SEC East… just weeks after an 0-2 start had folks thinking they’d be receiving pink slips instead.

9.  John Calipari says Kentucky’s #1 ranking just puts a bigger target on the Wildcats’ backs.

10.  Receiver Alshon Jeffery and guard Terrence Campbell both broke bones on Saturday, but they’re expected to be A-OK by the time South Carolina goes bowling.

11.  This writer says Tennessee has become a bottom-tier SEC football program.

12.  A Vanderbilt transfer led his new team — #11 Xavier — to an overtime win at #20 Vandy last night.

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