2013: Craw's Nine Hopes For College Basketball

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2013: Craw's Nine Hopes For College Basketball

By Greg Crawford, CSNNW.com College Basketball Insider, @wchoops
Craw's Nine Hopes---No it is not Craw's Nine top teams today, instead it is my hope that these nine things will happen in college basketball in 2013. Not just a wish list, but actual events and happenings that will make the game better. Let me know what you think either by email or in the comment section, love your thoughts positive and negative, always.
9. Get Oregon Tech head men's basketball coach Danny Miles in Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the ultimate for anyone associated with the game of basketball. It is a joke that he is not there already, but it time to turn this from a joke, to reality. Character, affecting postively lives of future adults and winning, are all part of the Miles culture.
8. Gonzaga into at least the Elite 8. This is the year, the roster is loaded with depth at every position and although not a big fan of Mark Few, Gonzaga nation deserves to not only make the Elite 8, never having been there before, but how about a Final Four.
7. Give Dick Vitale a lifetime achievement EMMY. No matter what you think of him, Dick Vitale made college basketball on TV. And while we are at, would someone please tell Dick Vitale, we do have running water and electricity west of the Rockies.
6. Attention college ADs. You are losing the marketing battle when it comes to college basketball. Get your marketing people to do a better job, it is no longer the case you can just open the doors and people will show up. You should be crisis mode, when it comes to attendance.
5. The PAC is back, but no one seems to notice. Come on Pac-12, shock everyone in the NCAA tournament and win a couple of games, then you will get noticed big time.
4. Radical change here: In order to eligible for the NBA Draft, you either must be 21 years old or have completed three years in college. It is time for meeting of the minds to sit down and hammer out a deal, "one and done" should be DONE, stick a fork in it, it is not working.
3. NCAA D-1 basketball teams can start playing games on November 1st, but starting November 20th, must take 10 days off and can only practice. It would make the game better, no one cares about college basketball during Thanksgiving time because of football. And then come back strong in December, especially Christmas time, where basketball always rules.
2. D-1 basketball referees, should only be allowed to work three nights in a row. How can a guy or gal be fresh after working 14 days in a row in 14 different cities which three referees have already done this year. When this happens, it is messing with the integrity of the game. And yes, if the NCAA stepped in, independent contractors or not, the rules would have to be followed.
1. For the betterment of the game, start by changing these four rules immediately: 1) Four media timeouts per half, one 30 second in first half and two in second half, of which of one can only be taken in final two minutes. 2) Bring back pre-game dunking, complete joke to still not allow it. 3) Men's game, change the 35 second clock down to 29 seconds, the women do just fine with 30 seconds 4) Do not allow teams to be able to call timeouts after they score a basket or allow the offense call timeout in the backcourt.
ATTENTION COACHES: Look at Craw's Nine 1, especially the timeout suggestion. Someone step up and realize the game is not entirely about coaching. If there is no one to watch, then you will not have a job. Fans in person and on TV are sick of the timeout structure, think about the betterment of the game for everyone, just not yourself. (For the record, many coaches do agree with my suggestions, just not enough).
Wolf's World---It is Friday, so it is time for Michael Wolf, assistant coach at U of Portland to shine in answering a question from a Crawford's Court reader.
"Coach Wolf, I like what Coach Mac did in assessing the coming Big Sky league season, but I hate the Big Sky, so how about your assessment of the coming WCC league season, the most underrated league in college basketball"? Thanks, Gary---Moscow, Idaho.
"Gary, thanks for the question. Since Coach Reveno took over the program here in Portland 7 years ago, we have seen tremendous growth in the West Coast Conference. Obviously the addition of BYU has strengthened the league, but it is overall improvement of the entire group that I think is most impressive. Unfortunately, that also means as coaches, there is going to be a tough game every single night out. The gap between Gonzaga (who has been the gold standard in the WCC for over a decade) and the rest of the league has closed considerably during that time. We will enter next week's Conference play ranked as the 10th best conference in D-1 college basketball and third, in conferences not playing football behind the A-10 and MVC. It is a testament to the commitment of the WCC universities, the quality of the coaches and types of student athletes we all have recruited.
As for the coming WCC season, I tried to to wait as long as possible to see how the league might shape up. October handicapping is tough, but with 2 solid months under our belts, I think the league is shaping up to be as tough as ever. Be sure that San Diego, will get my full attention before next week's Pilot opener, but with our tough non-conference schedule, sometimes it is tough to look at the league overall during November and December.
Clearly Gonzaga is the team to beat and I think the dragon was awoken where their streak of WCC regular season titles was snapped last year. They are so big and physical inside with Harris, Dower, Olynyk and Karnowski, but when you add the quality guard play of Pangos and Bell it makes it a virtual impossible task.
St. Mary's and BYU continue to play well in the non-conference slate. I have heard Tyler Haws is as good as advertised for the Cougars, but he will be new to the league coming off his mission, so we will have a few surprises for him in his travels. I would call those two teams in a dead heat coming into the league play, but as a coach it is hard not to ride a guy like Matthew Dellavedova. He is the heart and soul of St. Mary's, with his ability to make the right decisions and execute the right plays. Will not be sorry to see him graduate.
Santa Clara has earned the right to be in the conversation for the top of the league based on their stellar non-conference record. They are 2 OTs away from being 13-0 and probably nationally ranked. They have always been an explosive offensive team with Marc Trasolini inside (now healthy) and Kevin Foster outside (get a hand up). What it seems is going to set this year's Bronco team apart is their ability to defend.
How the rest of the league finishes is really anyone's guess and honestly, I could see anyone of the remaining teams putting it all together and making a run at the upper echelon and that coveted conference tournament bye in Las Vegas. USF boasts the nation's leading rebounder in Cole Dickerson and one of the toughest competitors in the conference in Cody Doolin. Hate to play him, but would have loved to coach him.
LMU is as talented as anyone and I know they have been fighting the injury bug, but if they are healthy they can beat anyone in the league. Anthony Ireland is a special player and Ashley Hamilton has become an absolute match-up nightmare.
San Diego sophomores Johnny Dee and Chris Anderson will be giving the league fits for three more years chasing those waterbugs around the court, but the development of their post play will be their key to make a run at the top of the league. Chris Manresa should be the man as a senior, but their post depth might be as good as anyone in the league.
Pepperdine is led by the return of Lorne Jackson coming off an ACL injury and missing all of last season. I love his toughness and leadership, so I think he could really bring them along to the next tier of the league. Senior leadership is so important in a league as talented as the WCC because each night is a war and Pepperdine has a senior warrior to lead them into battle.
I think that about covers the league......oh wait, I forgot someone, didn't I....
The Portland Pilots have proven a remarkable commitment to defense. If we can hold on that mantle and carry our defensive mindset into WCC play we have a chance for a special season and will be fighting for one of those tournament byes for sure. Obviously, our offensive improvement will need to continue to grow, but as Coach Reveno always says, "defense determines whether you win or lose, offense just tells you how much".
Have a great 2013 and see you at the Chiles Center".---- Coach Michael Wolf.
GregCrawford@csnnw.com and twitter @wchoops askGregCrawford

Have Ducks overestimated their appeal with coaching search?

Have Ducks overestimated their appeal with coaching search?

You are probably familiar with the word that pops into my mind when I take another tired look at the football situation at Oregon:

Hubris.

The definition is usually "excessive pride or self-confidence."

This is an athletic department that looks for all the world as if it dismissed a football coach without really understanding how difficult it was going to be to find a suitable replacement. That, I think, came from an overall arrogance in Eugene that believes the football program is one of the nation's elite and would be able to open the job and sit back and have its choice of dozens of quaified, big-name, experienced candidates.

While tossing all sorts of names out there for the local media to feast on, the Ducks' search group, led by AD Rob Mullens, was apparently working behind the scenes to bring in former Temple Coach Matt Rhule as the replacement for Mark Helfrich. CBS Sports reported today that not only was Oregon working hard to get Rhule, who today took the open job at troubled Baylor, but that he'd already had a key interview that most people believe would be the final one:

Before taking the Baylor job, Rhule had met personally with Nike CEO Phil Knight, the source said.

Why would anyone pass up a job at Oregon to take the same one at scandal-heavy Baylor? The CBS Sports piece has its own explanation:

Why would he turn down the riches of Oregon? Baylor may actually be an easier rebuild. Oregon suddenly finds itself in a loaded Pac-12 North with playoff participant Washington Huskies , Stanford Cardinal and a Washington State Cougars that has a chance to win nine two years in a row.

"It doesn't seem right but Oregon's not the job it used to be," said a person intimately involved with the Oregon program. "They have the greatest facilities in the world, but you still have issues there with recruiting and weather that you don't in the state of Texas."

It appears the Ducks let Helfrich go without having any real plan for his replacement -- which is a dangerous thing to do. Unless you're one of those elite schools such as Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, USC, etc., that is many coaches' dream job. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Oregon still does not have a coach and if there was a big-name, blue-chip candidate waiting in the wings to take it, that would have happened by now.

So now you run the risk of having to hire someone you've already dismissed as a candidate. A second choice. There is no way of knowing just how many people have been offered the job but Rhule is the only one who has been reported -- and he turned it down for a trainwreck of a program. I do not think the decision-makers at Oregon expected that to happen.

Hubris.

Portland State names Valerie Cleary as new Director of Athletics

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Portland State names Valerie Cleary as new Director of Athletics

Portland State University President Wim Wiewel has named Valerie Cleary the new Director of Athletics for the Vikings program. Cleary returns to Portland State after spending the past two years as AD at Willamette University in Salem.

Cleary replaces Mark Rountree, who is moving on to a role as Deputy Athletics Director of Georgia Tech.

"As our former associate athletics director who served as interim director before Mark was hired, Valerie Cleary has a keen understanding that academics and community engagement are a central part of the values of Portland State University athletics," said President Wiewel. "She also has deep experience and knowledge not only of athletics and athletes but of Oregon and the Northwest. We are thrilled that Valerie is returning to our campus as PSU's new athletics director."  

Previously, Cleary was the senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator at Portland State. She served in that capacity from September 2013 until she was named PSU's interim athletics director in the fall of 2014 as PSU was completing an AD search that led to Rountree's hiring. Cleary was named AD at Willamette in the spring of 2015.

"I am excited and humbled by the opportunity to return to Portland State," Cleary said. "I feel fortunate to return to a campus and department where I learned so much and developed lifelong friendships. Most importantly, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue to build upon the work of Mark Rountree and the fantastic staff in supporting exceptional Viking student-athletes."

Cleary takes over leadership of a Viking program that has won 28 conference team championships and made 18 NCAA post-season appearances since 2003. She will step into the development process of the Viking Pavilion, the academic and athletic center that will soon house the department upon its completion in approximately 14 months.

Cleary already has a working knowledge of the Viking program and most of its staff from her previous stint on the Park Blocks. During her tenure as interim AD in late 2014, she gave Bruce Barnum his initial one-year contract to be Head Football Coach and established other personnel changes.

Cleary has a significant range of experience. In addition to her time at Portland State and Willamette, she did admissions work at Pacific University, and director of student-athlete enhancement programs at Boise State University.

Cleary earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2000 from California State University, Chico, with a major in social science and an emphasis in sociology, multicultural and gender studies. In 2003, she received a Master of Science degree from California State University, Long Beach in counseling with a focus on student development in higher education.

While working at Boise State from 2002 through 2008, Cleary held several positions.

She was an educational specialist helping with BSU's Educational Talent Search for one year, then worked for three years as the coordinator of the TRIO Dissemination Partnership. She became the academic advisor and BroncoLIFE coordinator for the Athletics Department in 2006. Cleary was named the director of student-athlete enhancement programs in 2008.

At Pacific, she was the assistant director of undergraduate admissions from September of 2010 through October of 2012. She was promoted to associate director of undergraduate admissions in October of 2012.

Cleary is scheduled to begin at Portland State on January 1. Rountree will be leaving PSU on Dec. 16. Deputy AD Matt Billings will serve as interim athletics director during the two-week span.

It turns out that College Football Playoff just as messed up as BCS or polls

It turns out that College Football Playoff just as messed up as BCS or polls

It's fixed. It's all a setup.

College football set up a playoff system, ostensibly to fairly determine a national championship on the field, rather than by simply holding a beauty contest masking as a poll. But what we ended up with this weekend is another example of the sport being more concerned with TV ratings and ultimately cranking the money machine up even higher.

Ohio State meets Clemson in the first round. Alabama plays Washington. It's really all about trying to set up an Urban Meyer-Nick Saban matchup for the championship -- two superpowers and two supercoaches meeting in a ratings bonanza.

In a four-team playoff, Ohio State shouldn't even be in the mix. At least by the listed criteria of the College Football Playoff on its website. That website says:

The selection committee ranks the teams based on conference championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents and other factors.

Conference championships won? What conference did the Buckeyes win? Penn State won the Big 10 in the conference's title game while Ohio State sat home watching. I'm actually shocked Washington got in because you know the committee was dying to put Michigan in, for the TV ratings a rematch with Ohio State would draw. But apparently winning the Pac-12 matters more than winning the Big 10, even though most people believed the latter was a more powerful conference this season.

Of course, the playoff should include at least eight teams with automatic berths for the Big Five conference title winners and then three wild-card teams. That would cover all the teams that belong in the playoff -- including, this season, the Buckeyes and red-hot USC. And not Michigan, which lost two of its last three games.

And it's silly when people make the argument that the controversy of having just four teams and the fuss over who gets chosen is good for the sport. No it isn't. It never has been. A whole lot of people complaining about what you're doing is never a good way to market your product. We heard the same excuse for the BCS system for years and that whole thing stunk.

For me, it's just one more example of why I've lost a degree of interest in college sports over the years. It's a bunch of kids working hard at their sport to enable a bunch of wealthy athletic departments and their administrators to generate as much money as possible off the sweat of those kids. Exploitation rules. This isn't about finding the best team, it's about making the most money.

That's fine if this is strictly business, but it isn't. This is supposed to be "student-athletes" competing on a level playing field. You know, the purity of sport. I can't even write that without smirking.

It's a mess.

 

UCF's Scott Frost proclaims he's 'not a candidate for Oregon'

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USA Today

UCF's Scott Frost proclaims he's 'not a candidate for Oregon'

If he was even on it, you might be able to scratch Scott Frost off of Oregon’s coaching to-do list.  Maybe.

Not long after Mark Helfrich was dumped by the Ducks, Frost’s name was mentioned as a possible replacement.  The connection made sense, given the fact that the UCF head coach spent seven seasons with the UO football program as an assistant.

There has been speculation, however, that the Ducks, who haven’t hired from the outside in four decades, may be looking to branch out with this coaching hire.

Even if they were interested in taking the same tack, Frost, at least publicly, is saying he’s not interested in returning to Eugene.

“I’m not a candidate for Oregon,” the 41-year-old Frost said according to the Orlando Sentinel. “I’m happy right here. This is where I want to be. I started something here, and I feel like we’ve taken a lot of steps to get this program to the top of our league. I want to see that through.”

CONTINUE READING

PK80: 16-Team college hoops tournament comes to Portland in 2017

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PK80: 16-Team college hoops tournament comes to Portland in 2017

Next November the Rose Quarter will play host to one of the largest regular season tournaments in the history of college basketball. Welcome to PK80 – The Phil Knight Invitational.

Held in honor of the Nike co-founder’s 80 birthday, PK80will see 12 teams from around the nation and four local schools converge on the Rose City. 

Portland’s own University of Portland and Portland State University will carry the torch for PDX, while Gonzaga and the University of Oregon will also help them represent the northwest.

The four northwest school will be joined by 12 of the best college basketball programs in the nation; Arkansas, Butler, Connecticut, Duke, Florida, Georgetown, Michigan State, North Carolina, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford and Texas.

The invitational consists of two eight team brackets, with each bracket only having one school from each conference. The the winners of each bracket playing in a championship game.

In total the participants have combined for 23 national titles, 89 final four appearance, and 391 NCAA Tournament Invitations. Needless to say, this tournament is sort of a big deal.

The invitational starts on Thursday, November 23 and ends on Sunday, November 24(with no games played on Saturday).

Here are what some of the participating coaches are saying, via the official press release:

“It’s an honor to be included in this prestigious group of college basketball programs and to get the chance to participate in an event as exciting as the PK80. The level of competition, as well as the college basketball atmosphere, will make it a tremendous experience for everyone involved, especially the student-athletes. After all he’s done for college basketball, there is no more appropriate way to help Phil Knight celebrate such a special birthday.” – UConn head coach Kevin Ollie

“Phil Knight has been a visionary and an innovator for a long time. PK80 is a unique way we can honor him and the contributions he has made not just to the game of basketball, but to all of sport.” – Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski

“What a great way to celebrate Phil Knight and all that he and Nike have done for college basketball and the Florida Gators. We’re excited and honored to be part of this field that features so many excellent programs.” – Florida head coach Mike White

It's exciting to be a part of this tournament. It is a privilege to be involved in an event that honors Phil Knight.  Mr. Knight has not only been pivotal figure in college athletics, but he has been a driving force in the entire sports industry. We are proud to participate in an event that celebrates him. – Georgetown head coach John Thompson III

“We’ve been fortunate to play in some incredible preseason events, but we’ve never been a part of something this amazing – both in terms of quantity and quality of the teams. This is sure to be an incredible experience for all the student-athletes. It’s only fitting to pay tribute to a one-of-a-kind man with a one-of-a-kind event. Phil Knight has revolutionized modern day fitness, while setting the gold standard for shoes and apparel, not just in basketball, but across all other sports and activities as well.” – Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo

“What a thrill for North Carolina Basketball to be playing in such a special event to honor a truly special man. PK80 not only brings together some of the top basketball programs in the game, it honors a giant in business and sports. Mr. Knight has a wonderful ability to touch people’s lives and do great things, both in and out of the sports world. I’ll always cherish my friendship with him.” – North Carolina head coach Roy Williams

For more information, visit pkinvitational.com

College football opens in Australia tonight? That's just wrong

College football opens in Australia tonight? That's just wrong

Yes, college football opens its season tonight in a matchup between California and Hawaii. And it's not enough to just play this game in Honolulu -- the teams must go to Sydney, Australia for this one.

Which is so totally unnecessary.

For several years now, it's been professional teams -- trying desperately to make their "brand" worldwide -- heading outside the country for games. In the beginning it was just non-counting preseason or exhibition games that went to Europe, Asia, Mexico or wherever. But now the NBA, Major-League Baseball and the NFL are moving regular-season, counting games outside the country.

And I don't think that's fair -- to players or fans. It's a hardship to players and so unfair to fans, especially in football where there are so few home games during a season. Why allow one of those to be played outside the country? It's a betrayal to loyal fans and a hardship for players because of the long travel and often sub-par condition of foreign playing fields.

And at the college level, it's ridiculous. There are reasons for doing this, of course. Most of them have to do with money, in one way or another And at the college level, it's simply unfair to unpaid players who have to make trips of that length to play in front of crowds that probably don't include their families or friends.

I can't really believe this is happening, actually.

The players at Hawaii this season ought to be allowed to accumulate frequent-flier miles for a schedule that is cruel and unusual punishment. They open the season in Australia, then next play at Michigan before finally getting a home game in the third week of the season. Then it's to Tucson, Ariz., for a game the following week before finally getting a bye week. But the Rainbow Warriors never get two consecutive home games during the entire season -- it's a constant zig-zag between the island and the mainland.

That's terrible. But of course, we're seeing the colleges chase the dollars just like the pros these days. And so it's no surprise they'd go all the way to Australia to chase a few more bucks.

 

The case of Portland State's incredible new shrinking arena

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The case of Portland State's incredible new shrinking arena

Portland State has begun construction of it's new "pavilion" on campus, in case you haven't noticed. But I find it interesting how much the vision for the new arena has changed over the last few years.

This project is a little more than half of what I remembered it was supposed to be.

Webster's has a definition for "pavilion" that is "a large building that is used for sports or public events." As such, I'm not sure the "pavilion" part of "Viking Pavilion" applies these days. I wouldn't call this new structure "large."

At one time, I seem to remember the seating capacity of that building was going to be somewhere near 7,000. But I couldn't find any written evidence of that. But I have found various accounts listing the projected seating capacity of the arena as 5,500, and then "nearly 6,000-seat," and 5,000, then it dropped to "4,700 for sports," then I found 4,800, and now I'm reading mostly 3,000. On top of that, the early renderings of the building always showed what appeared to be a new arena sitting atop the previous Stott Center -- a spanking new top floor for the building.

The drawings I'm seeing now aren't so grandiose. Mike Lund, Portland State associate athletic director media/communications, provided the latest rendering, which is used with this post. And he explained the loss in seating capacity:

"When the project was first introduced the thought was we would be able to get about 5000 seats," he wrote in an email. "As plans evolved and space was actually worked out that was reduced down to 3000-3500. We do have to provide for a lot of academic space, larger sports medicine facility, more offices and some classrooms. I don't really think the seating will be a big issue for us."

And about the different look of the structure:

"As for the structure, the arena will not be on top. The building is being gutted on the east side. When reconstruction begins the final project will be taller than the original building so it is going up."

The Stott Center seating capacity previously was barely more than 1,000 so anything larger is an improvement. But I must say I'm disappointed that PSU is going to so much expense and trouble to build an arena for its Division I basketball program that is apparently going to seat just 3,000. That's too small. And yes, I know the program struggles to draw a thousand people to its games now.

But really, I had hope that the Portland State vision for the future would be something more than 3,000 fans per game.

 

 

CFB Playoff moves semifinals from New Year's Eve

CFB Playoff moves semifinals from New Year's Eve

Future college football playoff semifinal games will be played on Saturdays and holidays, instead of on New Year's Eve. 

“We tried to do something special with New Year’s Eve, even when it fell on a weekday," said Bill Hancock, Executive Director of the College Football Playoff. "But after studying this to see if it worked, we think we can do better.  These adjustments will allow more people to experience the games they enjoy so much.  For these four years, our previous call is reversed.”

Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report tweeted the adjustments and dates for the upcoming semifinals:

5-star forward Michael Porter Jr. commits to UW

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5-star forward Michael Porter Jr. commits to UW

The Husky basketball team just got a whole lot better. In a move that many UW fans expected, 5-star small forward Michael Porter Jr. officially announced his commitment to Washington on Friday.

Porter, a senior at Seattle’s Nathan Hale High School took to his Twitter page to make the announcement.

https://twitter.com/michaelporterb1/status/754096756904828928

The news comes as no surprise, as the connections between Porter and UW are many. Porter’s father, Michael Porter Sr., was hired as an assistant coach on Lorenzo Romar’s staff at Washington earlier this year, and many thought the move would sway Porter Jr. to UW as well. It looks like it did.

Not only is his father on the coaching staff at Washington, but his current coach at Nathan Hale is Husky legend, and former Trail Blazers star Brandon Roy.

With his dad on staff and Roy coaching him his final year at NHHS, many fans thought the official committment was nothing more than a formality. 

Porter comes to Washington as one of the most sought after recruits in the class of 2017. He ranks in the Top-5 nationally on most recruiting sites, including a No.2 ranking by Rivals, No.2 by 24/7 Sports, and No.4 according to ESPN.

Porter Jr. and his father aren’t the only members of the family to join the Husky basketball team in the coming years. Porter’s younger brother, Jontay Porter, committed to Washington last summer, and is considered one of the Top-100 recruits in the class of 2018. 

Needless to say, the Porter family is taking over the University of Washington.