Hoops HD June Session: News & Notes, Restarting the Border War, and More

Chad is joined by David, John and Joby as they delve into the News and Notes of college basketball.  They talk about how NKU has moved from the Atlantic Sun to the Horizon League, and how NJIT was able to join a conference.  They also look at the different rules changes that have been passed and discuss what impacts they think they’ll have on the game, the two most notable being the shot clock and the possibility that the graduation transfer rule may change.

The main topic tonight is something that David Griggs has not shut up about for over two years, and that is the Border War Rivalry between Kansas and Missouri.  The panel wanted to discuss the history of the rivalry, and how they feel restarting it would be different since it’s not a conference game, but would still be beneficial.

All of that, and more….

 

And for all you radio lovers out there, below is an mp3 version of the show…

News, Notes and Puppet Rants (June 5th)

-We will be doing our June Session podcast within the next week or two.  Be on the lookout for that.  Barring something totally unexpected that deserves immediate attention, it will be our final podcast of the athletic year.  On July 1, we will OFFICIALLY be in the 2015-2016 athletic year, so this year will suddenly be last year and next year will suddenly be this year.

-This is old news, but Northern Kentucky has moved from the Atlantic Sun to the Horizon League.  2015-2016 will be their final year as a transitional program.  The Atlantic Sun is now down to just seven full members, which is the minimum a conference is allowed to have while still being an automatic qualifier.  We’ve said this before, but NJIT would make sense despite being a geographic outlier.  Most A-Sun teams travel in the OOC portion of the season anyway, so this would be just one more trip.  And, NJIT has plans to build a new arena, and would be a formidable basketball program by Atlantic Sun standards.  They advanced to the semifinals of the CIT a year ago, and anyone who can do that would be an asset to a league like the A-Sun.  If this is going to happen, it  needs to happen before July 1st, so let’s take to Twitter and make this happen!!  #NJITtoASun!!!!  #TeamOfThePeople!!

-North Carolina is about to go through the NCAA equivalent of a full body cavity search.  The NCAA has accused UNC of five level 1 violations, which basically means they could be looking at a postseason ban for the sports that were involved.  The violations include lack of institutional control for failing to monitor its academic programs, extra benefits, and not cooperating with the NCAA, The report mentions that 169 student-athletes were involved, and 15 of those were men’s basketball players, so this is no small thing.

-UAB has announced they intend to reinstate their football program, which should allow them to remain in Conference USA.  This is good news for their basketball program seeing as how the three best basketball centric conferences (Big East, Atlantic Ten and Missouri Valley) likely would not have had much interest in adding UAB, which would have likely resulted in them landing in a league like the Sun Belt as a non-football member, or the Atlantic Sun.

-Fred Hoiberg has left Iowa State for the NBA.  He did an unbelievable job with the Cyclones, especially the past two seasons where the team entered the NCAA Tournament as a #3 seed in each of those years, and won two Big Twelve Tournament championships.  Unfortunately they were inflicted with injuries going into the 2014 NCAA Tournament, but still made the Sweet Sixteen, and they were upset in the round of 64 by UAB in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, but despite that the program was having a terrific run.  I for one am kind of sad to see him leave the college game.

 

-And finally, I will close with my rant on the Graduate Transfer Waiver, or more accurately, those who oppose this waiver.  Here’s the thing.  People in college athletics love to claim that these are student-athletes, and that academic are important, and that it’s about getting a free education.  Well, if that’s the case, then what the hell is a “Graduate Transfer??”  There’s no such thing.  In the world of academics, which people in college athletics (falsely) claim to value, graduating and enrolling in another institution to seek an advanced degree, or simply to seek a second undergraduate degree is NOT transferring.  Transferring is when you begin a degree program at one school, and opt to complete that same degree program at another school.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that if college athletics actually does value academics and claims to be tuned in to academics, then they should not refer to college graduates as transfer students when they enroll in another college.  The only thing that should change about the “Graduate Transfer Waiver” is the name.  It should be called the Graduate ENROLLMENT Waiver” since these players aren’t technically transfers…at least as far as the academic side of things is concerned.

….and no, this waiver should NOT go away.  You cannot claim to have the best interest of the student-athletes in mind, and then take away one of the few things that is advantageous to them.

 

Griggs

Hoops HD May Sessions Video Podcast

Chad is back with David, Joby and John, and they hit on many issues in this year’s first offseason podcast.  Some of the News and Notes include the Horizon League and Big Sky changing their conference tournament formats, the new coaching changes, the possibility of a thirty second shot clock and whether or not that will properly address the game’s issues, and a look at some of the upcoming OOC games.

The main topic tonight is conference realignment in hind sight.  Each of the panelists discuss how they think it has impacted or changed the game, and whether not we’re better off post-realignment than we were pre-realignment.

 

And for all you radio lovers, below is an mp3 version of the show…..

Puppet Ramblings: Final Four, and More….

Be sure and follow our Twitter account @HoopsHD as we count down to the 2015-2016 season.  #CollegeHoopsCountdown

 

FINAL FOUR

-I gotta say, when you love college basketball on a macro level, you’re actually LESS interested in the Final Four than most other people.  The reason??  There’s only four teams, and by that point it’s rare that I have a strong connection to any of them.  That probably does this site a huge disservice because when college basketball is on its biggest stage, I’m not nearly as interested as I am in, say, the start of the Patriot League Tournament, or for that matter, the OOC game between Georgia State and Old Dominion to see if one of those teams can get inside the bubble and make the tournament.  In any given weekend during the season, there’s close to sixty games that are interesting.  This past weekend, there were only two.  So, even though it’s college basketball’s biggest stage, for those that love it on a macro level, we ironically kinda feel that it’s already over.

-With that said…..

-DUKE HAS BEEN THE MOST IMPRESSIVE TEAM THIS YEAR.  I know Kentucky was unbeaten.  I know Duke had bad losses, but Duke’s best wins were better than Kentucky’s.  They won at Virginia, they won at Louisville much more easily than Kentucky did, and they had some other impressive road wins as well.  On top of that, they’ve blown through the NCAA Tournament and beaten some good teams along the way without really breaking a sweat.  It would have been great theater with a great storyline if they were facing Kentucky tonight.  I think most would have viewed Duke as the underdog, when in reality they would have been every bit Kentucky’s equal.

-PEOPLE THAT SAY KENTUCKY BLEW IT ARE OVERSIMPLIFYING IT.  Kentucky did not blow it.  Wisconsin is REALLY good.  Not only that, it is the kind of team Kentucky has not matched up well with all year.  We’ve pointed this out before, but if you look at the few times Kentucky has sweated (Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Georgia, Columbia for a half, Buffalo for a half, LSU, etc) they all had something in common.  Those teams did not try and run with Kentucky.  There really is a Paper-Rock-Scissors element to college basketball match-ups.  Had Kentucky played Arizona, I think they would have run them off the floor.  Notre Dame fits the definition of a very good team that likes to play half court.  They just couldn’t hit their outside shots in that game, but they still almost won.  Wisconsin fits that definition as well, but they did hit their open looks.

I thought that was a fantastic college basketball game.  Both teams were familiar with each other (even though Cal said Kentucky did not watch any film.  I’m  not sure I believe him.  I just think he wanted Wisky to think they didn’t watch film).  One team would go on a run, and then the other team would adjust, and it was back and forth for the entire game.  It was one of the best played games I’ve seen all year.  To say Kentucky simply blew that is really not giving both teams credit for just how well they played.

I know people don’t like Kentucky.  I understand that, and appreciate it.  But, you can’t just say they blew it.  They had a chance to win, which is more that can be said for the 347 div1 teams that did not make the Final Four.  It’s okay to feel good about them not winning, but I don’t think anyone has any room to talk about how they “blew it.”  No one has ever been 38-0 before, so while 38-1 is not what they wanted, they still had a historic season, and they did a lot to boost the interest in college basketball this year.

 

CIT

-I thoroughly enjoy watching this tournament every year, and seeing NJIT reach the semifinals and play as well as they did at against Northern Arizona made it more exciting.  This tournament gives some legitimacy to teams who are in one bid NCAA Tournament leagues, because it gives them something to play for once it becomes clear that they are not going to be competing for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.  Congrats to the Evansville Aces, who are a program that is definitely trending up and who have a lot of players back for next season.  They were able to pick up some hardware, get the feel of a postseason tournament, and are now able to take a strong finish into the offseason, which should help them out next year.

 

NIT

-Stanford failed to impress me at any point from about mid-February on, but they really did play well in this tournament, and are also taking home some hardware.  Despite them not winning it, I still think Miami FL was the most deserving team that was left out of the NCAA Tournament.

 

CBI

-I’m not a huge fan of this one because I don’t like the Gazelle Group, and don’t like that it’s a pay for play event.  It’s my right to feel that way and I’ll just leave it at that.  With that said, it was very exciting to see that much electricity around the UL Monroe fan base as they advanced through that tournament and ultimately ended up hosting the deciding game.  Congrats to Loyola IL, who doesn’t have a whole lot of recent history, but who played very well this year and appears to have their program going in the right direction.

 

OTHER TIDBITS 

-This website continues to be a work in progress.  Basically, it’s our own playground.  We cover the things we want to cover the way we want to cover them.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I like the conference tournament info and Survival Board, I like the Under the Radar podcasts and that there is a review each week, I like the Bracket Racket podcasts that review the power conferences each week, and I like the bracket projections each week.  This offseason the content will slow down some just because there isn’t a whole lot going on, but at least once a month we should have something.  One of the things we want to focus on is how we feel the game can be improved, so we will likely be writing and podcasting about that periodically.  We will also be covering News and Notes as we feel it is necessary.

-For us, it starts in October.  It really does.  March does not just fall out of the sky.  It is the culmination of everything that happens all season long, and there are some very important basketball games in November.  So, if you love the tournament, then you’ll love the regular season because it’s what shapes the tournament.  351 teams are basically fighting for the top 40 spots so they can safely make the field without having to win a conference tournament.  That makes the regular season hugely important.  Our work starts in October, and I say this every year, but MARCH REALLY DOES START IN NOVEMBER!!!

CIT Game of the Day – Thursday, April 2, 2015: Northern Arizona at Evansville

A team not named NJIT at another team not named NJIT, 7:00 PM Eastern, CBS Sports Network

At the start of this season, we here at HOOPS HD decided that we wanted to adopt a team with a compelling story to follow all season long.  It was not difficult for us to choose NJIT as that team, given that they were in the unique circumstance of being the nation’s lone independent.  While we realistically thought that the Highlanders had a shot at a winning record and a berth in the CIT, we had no idea what an amazing and fun story they would become.  On December 6, they shocked the college basketball world winning at then #17 Michigan.  They played a great game at Villanova, knocked off Yale at home, and played solid basketball all season.  Not only did the Highlanders get the CIT berth we wanted for them, but they earned three home games and three victories in the tournament, advancing all the way to the semifinals.

On Tuesday night, NJIT was finally sent on the road, out to Flagstaff, Arizona to take on the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks  Despite holding a 12 point lead in the second half, NAU used the strength of the largest home crowd in its program history to rally and capture the game, advancing to the CIT championship game at Evansville tonight.  The season is now over for Jim Engles’ team, though with the vast majority of the team back, including the likes of Ky Howard, Damon Lynn, Tim Coleman and Winfield Willis, there is no reason why NJIT will not only be a CIT caliber team next season, but could contend for a berth in the NIT if they remain an independent — and could contend for an NCAA berth if a conference picks them up.

With NJIT’s loss, despite the CIT and NIT title games being played tonight, Loyola-Chicago having won the CBI title last night, and the NCAA Final Four coming this weekend, the heart, the soul, and the team of the people is done.  And with that the pieces I have written here almost every day since the beginning of December,, focusing in on the non-major conference teams, have also come to an end.  I will be back next season as we follow another year of Under the Radar basketball.  Have a great summer everyone, and be sure to keep following us here at HOOPS HD for offseason news, notes, analyses and our always fun podcasts.

Oh, by the way, the CIT championship game is tonight.  Northern Arizona at Evansville, 7:00 PM Eastern on CBS Sports Network.  Enjoy!

CIT Game of the Day – Tuesday, March 31, 2015: NJIT at Northern Arizona

NJIT at Northern Arizona, 9:00 PM Eastern, CBS Sports Network

For our Final Four Bracket Racket podcast, CLICK HERE.

The Final Four.  The National Semifinals.  The last four teams remaining, squaring off for a berth in the title game and an opportunity to cut down the nets and be crowned national champions.  This weekend, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Duke will square off for one such title.  But for us here at HOOPS HD, the real championship, the real Final Four, starts tonight.  It begins at 7:00 PM Eastern on CBS Sports Network when Evansville hosts Tennessee-Martin in the first of the two 2015 CIT semifinals.  Then, at 9:00, our adopted team, the Team of the People, the New Jersey Institute of Technology Highlanders face off in Flagstaff, Arizona with the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks for the second spot in Thursday night’s title game.

Northern Arizona enters the game tonight with a record of 22-14 on the season.  They have won at Grand Canyon, at Sacramento State, and by one point at home over Kent State in an overtime thriller to make the semifinal round.  22 wins already is a school record for the Lumberjacks.  In addition, their three postseason victories this season are their only postseason wins in program history.  NAU will look for its senior leaders, Quinton Upshur and Aaseem Dixon, to try to lead them to yet another victory and a shot at the title.

Standing in NAU’s way is the team that we adopted here at HOOPS HD at the start of the season.  NJIT entered the year as the nation’s lone independent, knowing that an NCAA tournament berth was pretty much an impossibility without any shot at an automatic bid.  We followed them game by game, campaigning hard for their inclusion in the CIT.  With a huge program-making win at Michigan back in December, followed by a stretch of winning 13 of 15 games to end the regular season, the Highlanders were rewarded with not only a berth in the CIT, but home games in the first three rounds.  They picked up thrilling victories over New Hampshire, Cleveland State and Canisius in those games in front of some of the loudest and craziest crowds that any team has had cheering for them all season.  Tonight, the Highlanders, led by Ky Howard, Damon Lynn, Winfield Willis and Tim Coleman, take their show on the road, needing yet another huge road victory to continue their magical season and have a shot at doing something truly amazing — winning a postseason tournament.  This is the true Final Four, the real national semifinal, and it should be a great game.