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
By Greg Crawford, CSNNW.com College Basketball Insider, @wchoops