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Kelvin Sampson, Fired.

February 21, 2008 1 comment

Kelvin Sampson was informed today that he will no longer be the coach at Indiana University.

Kelvin Sampson faux Verizon call

The Hoosiers are supposedly turning the reins to assistant coach Dan Dakich, who was Director of Basketball Operations at Indiana, and a head coach at Bowling Green State University previous to this. he also played for the Hoosiers from 82-85 and was an assistant coach for 10 years.

A quick note for those who think Bob Knight is the next coach, or the answer, from NBC Sports:

Here’s what those fans can look forward to:

* A coach who, at 67, declared he was too tired to continue coaching Texas Tech and resigned with 10 games remaining on the schedule, plus the Big 12 Tournament and any postseason events that would want the Red Raiders.

* Who, since 1995, owns a 5-10 NCAA Tournament record that includes six first-round eliminations.

* Who lost NCAA Tournament games during that stretch to Jan van Breda Kolff, Jim O’Brien and Mike Jarvis, none of whom currently is a Division I head coach.

* Who hasn’t signed a McDonald’s All-American since Jared Jeffries was lured to Indiana in 2000 and who had two such players in the late-90s — Jason Collier and Neil Reed — transfer away from the Hoosiers.

* Who, according to Scout.com, committed 20 high school prospects in his last five classes as Texas Tech who were not rated among the top 25 players at their positions — and only one who was.

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Baseball Season Means… Manny Being Manny!

February 21, 2008 Comments off

(thanks to Raycroft)

From ESPN:

“I want to stay here, but it’s up to them if they want to bring me,” he said. “But if they don’t want to bring me back, that’s fine. I know I’ll be a free agent after ’08 so that’s another thing that I’m looking forward [to].”

“It’s up to them to say, ‘OK, we’re going take [the option]. It’s not up to me to go into the office and demand a four-year deal, whatever,” the 35-year-old Ramirez said. ” No, I’m going to come here to play the game, finish my year. If they want me to come back, I’ll come back.”

Categories: baseball, Sports

Dwight Howard’s Superman Dunk

February 20, 2008 Comments off

I just saw this dunk, thanks to Ball Hype.

It’s actually sicker thank you think watching it the first time. As the announcer says, “he got so high, he threw it through.”

SUPERMAN IS HEEEERE!

Categories: pro basketball, Sports

Memphis + Calipari – Institutional Control

February 20, 2008 3 comments

For all the Calipari fans, and all the fans of the UAB student who had the “Mempis” sign (aka “we beat Mempis [sic] not our girls”), please enjoy Pat Forde’s rundown of Memphis player misdeeds:

• Pierre Niles (20), a backup center who, according to the MempHis Commercial Appeal, owns the blue-sleeved hand seen slapping a UAB fan in the stands in the picture at the top of this story. Debris-throwing UAB fans should be embarrassed by their postgame behavior toward the Tigers — but if you don’t run across the court to get into the faces of those fools, as the Commercial Appeal reported Niles, Shawn Taggart (21) and Jeff Robinson (22) did, you stand much less chance of being goaded into slapping anyone. But judging from Niles’ body (6-foot-8, 310 pounds) and body of work (eight points this season), altercations might be his strong suit. (Meanwhile, Conference USA reacted with trademark sluggishness, failing to complete its review of the fracas as of noon Tuesday. A spokeswoman said the league is “still gathering information” on the Niles slap, more than 60 hours after it occurred. Meanwhile, Memphis has announced no discipline of its own against Niles.)

• Taggart and Robinson, who don’t just get their kicks by taunting UAB fans. They also have September 2007 arrests for inciting a riot outside a Beale Street night spot called the Plush Club on their résumés. Neither missed any game time because of the incident.

• Don’t forget Joey Dorsey (23), the spectacularly athletic MempHis center who police say also was involved in that September Plush Club incident, though he was not arrested. After that one, Calipari said Dorsey was down to his last strike to stay on the team. And it takes some work to reach last-strike territory with Cal.

• Robert Dozier (24), MempHis’ third-leading scorer, is alleged to have smacked a former girlfriend twice with his open hand earlier this month. (Hence the misspelled UAB sign.) He allegedly did this at 3:30 a.m. outside the very same Plush Club, which Calipari reportedly had declared off-limits to the Tigers after the September inciting-a-riot thing. Dozier’s punishment: He sat out one game, against vaunted SMU (8-15). Now, the ex-girlfriend comes with some baggage of her own, including previously asking for and receiving protective orders. She has not pressed charges against Dozier over the incident.

Memphis Commercial Appeal Photo of Fans after UAB vs Memphis Game

• Andre Allen (25), backup point guard, was arrested in 2005 on charges of soliciting a prostitute.

Then there is the coach, whose lone trip to a Final Four, in 1996 at Massachusetts, has been vacated from the NCAA record books for rules violations that occurred on his watch.

And that’s just the current roster. You might recall that former Tigers Jeremy Hunt, Kareem Cooper and Sean Banks had multiple off-court incidents of their own under Calipari. Forgive The Minutes for forgetting any others.

All of those incidents make one start to think twice about the Cult of Calipari. Schools are probably looking at their coaches on the hot seat, and their under .500 conference records, their long tenure with no big success, and they get a little lusty for the top prospects/ NBA caliber basketball players, the big wins and NCAA Tournament money that Cal can bring. AD’s at their desks thinking “how much money would it cost to bring in John Calipari, anyway?”

Tyreke Evans, who was witness to a shooting—his cousin is accused of murder in the incident— is being courted by Worldwide Wes to go to these same Memphis Tigers. I would say it’s probably not a good idea to join the second coming of Bob Huggins’ Bearcats, whose greatest hits included unlawful imprisonment/ “24”-style torture, domestic violence, and Art Long punching a police horse.

But the pros don’t really care about the arrest records of collegians. By the pros, the players can hire handlers and better lawyers to make “situations” disappear. The colleges don’t really care unless the coach gets caught (Kelvin Sampson timeline). Or if someone gets murdered. It’s the wins and losses are what satisfy the fans and the donors. Doing things in an arrest-free manner is nice, but is treated almost as a luxury. And for a player, joining Memphis means conversation and controversy, wins and exposure. None of which really hurt their future ball playing prospects.

Huggy Bear’s mid-major (the Bearcats were in Conference USA) wins got them to the big time, the Big East Conference with the big money and national exposure. Players were drafted to the NBA—Nick Van Exel, Danny Fortson, Kenyon Martin, Ruben Patterson, for some—so until Huggins was fired, it was a win win all around, except for Cincy students who had to tell people they actually went to a real school.

Similarly, Memphis’ players have them ranked #1 and the school and the coach are considered elite in their sport. Derrick Rose will be drafted in the top 10, and while I will bet the farm that this team won’t be winning a championship, they are making money and getting the national exposure.

How can Tyreke Evans turn that down?

How can schools not inquire about getting the Calipari package?

After all, for schools outside of the power conferences, or at the bottom of the power conferences, upgrading the talent requires taking on some risk. Or perhaps the best talent is so beyond the normal laws of conduct that most people adhere to (even in college) that they can act the damned fool.

And perhaps if Calipari moves on to a bigger conference, he won’t have to win at these costs. Or perhaps he will bring the same incidents along with his victories. Can a college administration have institutional control over a willful coach? Or do they choose not to?

It is certainly possible to have successful basketball teams without long rap sheets. Or at least rap sheets and incidents so bad they make national news. But it takes the kind of patience that fan bases often don’t have.

And make no mistake, there are coaches who do things the “right” way and are simply not good program builders. I’m not writing this in defense of those guys either. But Memphis’ list of dumb deeds and brushes with the law are outliers; and fans of coaches have to deeply consider the baggage they may bring to a school.

Zach Thomas to Visit the New England Home for Elderly Linebackers

February 19, 2008 Comments off

Link here. Isn’t retirement supposed to go the other way? Boston, then move to Miami for the warm breezes, easy winters, and humid air?

Thomas is also visiting the Saints and the Cowboys. Unlike Junior Seau when he made the Dolphins to Patriots move, Thomas doesn’t seem entirely washed up… and what better place for a player to go for a chance at a championship? It’s like joining the Yankess. Of course, we know how well that has worked for A-Rod, Giambi, and the rest.

Categories: football, Sports, trades

Jason Kidd Trade Update: Now With More Van Horn!

February 19, 2008 1 comment

From Sports Illustrated, an update on the Jason Kidd trade, that was blocked by stipulations in the Devean George contract:

The long-anticipated trade of Jason Kidd to the Mavericks may have cleared its final hurdle.

Keith Van Horn has agreed to terms on a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks, SI.com has confirmed. Van Horn will be sent to New Jersey along with guard Devin Harris, swingmen Trenton Hassell and Maurice Ager, center DeSagana Diop, two first-round picks and cash considerations in exchange for Kidd and forward Malik Allen.

In a separate trade, New Jersey will send swingman Antoine Wright to Dallas for the Mavericks’ $1.6 million trade exception.

It is believed that Van Horn, who hasn’t played since the end of the 2006 season, will report to New Jersey for a minimum of 30 days. For reporting, Van Horn will be paid $4.3 million for the remainder of the season.

Keith Van Horn with New JerseyFull disclosure: I fell in love with the Nets again when they picked up Van Horn in the draft– the offense to Jayson Williams’ defense and rebounding and trash talking. The Petrovic teams were nice, but I wasn’t following pro basketball or sports as much then, at the end of high school. But when I was near the end of college, and there was that Van Horn kid with the sweet game… whoo, man.

I always thought he was wildly underutilized, though also really shy about taking shots and demanding the ball. His low post turnaround move– the one that got stripped about 5 times a game, and I’m not joking, I counted– needed to be scrapped. But a defense stretching 4, who could get you some rebounds? I think, if healthy, he’s made for the current NBA. His game fell off a little, for sure. But what if he has a little bit of it back?

He’s Bostjan Nachbar with more height and rebounding ability! Certainly, his career suffered from being before the new-Euro invasion, suffered for being pre-Nowitzki, suffered for being kind of soft, and suffered from being picked just after Tim Duncan.

But it’ll be good to see him on the court again.

Categories: Nets, pro basketball, Sports, trades

Kelvin Sampson, Riding Durrty From The Jump

February 15, 2008 Comments off

A repost of an entry from the former/ team blog, Athletes In Action aka Six Star Camp. This one was not written by me, but rather by the mighty MJunior aka the good Reverend Dr. Raycroft, prince of Thoms, and U Mass devotee, who called out the challenges Kelvin Sampson faced from a demanding Indiana alumni group and establishment. IU took a risk on Sampson and wanted wins, not the mediocre edge-og-ncaa-bubble status they “enjoyed” with Mike Davis (AND Bobby Knight, but no one wants to talk about THAT). Well, they have wins. That might be vacated.

Wednesday March 29, 2006

Today, it is expected that Indiana University will name Oklahoma University Head Coach Kelvin Sampson their new men’s basketball coach, replacing the pushed-out…ahem, resigned Mike Davis.

Let’s start with the good. Over Sampson’s 18 year career as a head coach, he has proven to be one of the game’s best. With a career record of 435-248 (.637), Sampson, posted the highest winning percentage in Oklahoma University history (.721). He was named National Coach of the Year twice, in 1995 and 2002. He has won more games in Big 12 Conference tournament play, beating out Roy Williams, and took his OU teams to postseason play each year, including 10 NCAA Tournaments. He has certainly proven his worth.

The problem I have with this move is that Indiana had it in for Coach Davis as soon as Bobby Knight was fired because…well, he was not Coach Knight. Indiana kicked out Mike Davis basically for his lack of success in the postseason regardless of the fact that he made “The Dance” 4 of the 6 seasons.

Granted, other than his Final Four run in 2002, he had limited success in NCAA Tournament play, never making it past the second round again, and for schools steeped in tradition, such as Indiana, it is understandable that they have high standards.

However, will Sampson be the answer? During his 11 seasons as OU head coach, he has an NCAA record of 11-10, which does include one trip to the Final Four (2002) and the Elite Eight (2003). Take away those years, and that leaves a record of 4-8, including 6 tournaments where his Sooners were bounced in the first round (in all but two, they were the favorite.)

In contrast, Mike Davis only lost in the first round once, advancing to the second round twice not including his trip to the Championship game in 2002. Let’s be real here for a moment – this is all number play because the trick is to get to the tourney first and if you can’t do that, the argument is moot. And, with Davis missing the Big Dance 2 of his 6 seasons may stick out like a missing laptop in a UConn locker.

However, Mike Davis subscribes to the John Chaney school of schedule tough non-conference schedules every year, which provides a certain risk of not making the tourney. As I said before, with RPI and the selection committee, a loss to Duke is equal to a loss to Moorehead St. However, this scheduling philosophy does more to prepare your teams for postseason play, as witnessed by Davis losing 1 first round game (or as we call, a “one and done”) in 4 tries, opposed to Sampson’s Sooners losing 6 first round games in 10 trips.

My point is, while Indiana is hiring a top quality coach and expect better results than Mike Davis, will Sampson give his new bosses the results they expect? He better, because he will certainly be on the hot seat right out of the gate if he doesn’t.

According to ESPN’s Andy Katz, Indiana decided to go with a ‘name’ coach, approaching Gonzaga’s Mark Few, Memphis’ John Calipari and Louisville’s Rick Pitino first, who “want no part of Indiana.” At their schools, each coach are saviors, rebuilding (or building in the case of Gonzaga) big programs.

Mike Davis is a great coach, who understands the game and how to teach it. He has proven himself and will make a leader wherever he goes. Indiana administrators and alumni sent the message to Davis because it is tourney wins they want.

If so, maybe they should not have jumped ‘sooner’ rather than later.

Some might say that it takes the extra(legal) mile to bring in the top recruits. Well, Sampson brought the Hoosier nation what it wanted, even if he left a wake of sanctions on his former school, and soon, on Indiana University.