- Following up on Wednesday's Mark Emmert Madness!" was … well, just about everyone in the world with an opinion about the NCAA, pay-for-play, and its future as the governing body of college athletics. If you don't understand what all the hubbub is about — if you are confused as to why there is so much outcry over students who are getting $150,000 to $200,000 of free education in exchange for playing sports — this is easily the best, most concise, and most insightful piece you can read.
- In the meantime, once the pay-for-play hubbub — I will keep using the word hubbub, and you will never stop me — at Wednesday's IMG gathering settled, slightly wonkier NCAA news trickled forth. Namely, that Emmert expects a long-awaited revision to the NCAA governance structure to arrive by 2014, one likely to disenfranchise mid-major conferences, or curtail their outsized power, depending on which side of the divide you sit: "Generally speaking, the format would give the Big 5 conferences — ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC — more autonomy in decision-making and authority in other areas. It would also give them the ability to implement certain policies for schools in their conferences. The new model would also give athletic directors a key and more direct role in policy-making and implementation. An easy comparison to make is that of the United Nations' Security Council, a small group of members with explicit power to make decisions that affect the entire membership."
- As Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said — as he has been saying for a while now, really — getting to that United Nations-style place means convincing a lot of smaller conferences to "vote themselves less political authority. They don't do that. That's not a natural thing to do." This is a key point: "When critics rip universities for spending lavishly on coaching salaries, locker rooms and facilities while athletes struggle to pay for basic expenses, Delany says they're thinking of his league and the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Pacific-12 and Southeastern Conference. The time has come for those five to address such shortcomings, Delany said."
- Anyway, in non-bang-your-head-on-this-table news, cleanse your palette with Ken Pomeroy's fun little look at the tallest and shortest lineups in the country — and the various components therein.
- The "Real Basketball Moms of Kentucky" is not yet an actual television show, but it might be, and I hope it won't be, but I kind of hope it will be -- actually never mind, there are enough abjectly horrible people on TV, let's just not, OK? OK. Phew.
In the case of Napier, the two need not diverge. Napier has been on this list for weeks, but since the Florida buzzer-beater, he has emerged as the public pick. The good news is Napier's combination of late-game nerves and all-court wizardry can satisfy both the old-school "he's a winner" types and anyone who takes a second or third look at his production. He has been great.
Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State: Once you take that third glance, you'll notice Napier has, on the whole, been better than Smart, which is why he deserved to unseat the Cowboys guard atop this list for the first time in its four-week run. The margin is minimal, but the hot outside shooting Smart displayed against Memphis in November has cooled considerably. He's better than he was last season, and he was already very good, but he isn't quite the destroyer of worlds he looked like in the first few weeks.
Russ Smith, Louisville: If you read last week's Smith description, there isn't a whole lot else to add this week, even if Saturday's 113-74 win over Louisiana-Lafayette is more impressive than it sounds. (Louisiana-Lafayette: not terrible!) Smith is still playing the most efficient, intelligent offense of his career with little downtick in usage, and he's still defending like a madman.
Doug McDermott, Creighton: This might be McDermott's best year yet. He is averaging 25.3 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, shooting 53 percent from 2, 45 percent from 3 and 87 percent from the free throw line and putting up a 120.1 offensive rating while taking 36.8 -- 36.8! -- of his team's shots. You get the idea.
Jabari Parker, Duke: Of the top freshmen, Parker has been the one least damaged by expectations. A prep injury helped; so did the reclassification of Andrew Wiggins. But Parker also has been very good in a vacuum. He's one of the best pure scorers in the country who is asked not only to lead the way on offense but on the defensive glass too. He has been up to the task.
Casey Prather, Florida: Prather has morphed from a three-year glue guy into a star, and even when he doesn't have things obviously going -- just 1-of-5 for 12 points in a win over Kansas on Tuesday -- his ability to fill that gluey midcourt role (getting to the foul line 12 times, making 10, and grabbing eight rebounds) makes him invaluable to a Florida team still patching its personnel together.
Aaron Gordon, Arizona: Nick Johnson occupied this role for the Wildcats last week; I'm giving it to Gordon again. Maybe we'll do a rotating basis. But the more you look at the Wildcats' defensive numbers, the more you realize the impact Gordon's interior athleticism -- his shot-blocking -- has had on a defense that is suddenly among the nation's best. Also: dunks. Lots and lots of dunks.
Keith Appling, Michigan State: Appling seems to be getting less attention than he was a few weeks ago; doubtless the home loss to North Carolina had something to do with that. But his numbers are still really good. They're not merely the best of his career but about as good as you could ask from a point guard -- efficient scoring from everywhere on the floor, high assist rate, low turnover rate, defensive rebounding, the works.
C.J. Fair, Syracuse: As we've discussed before, the efficiency numbers aren't as kind to Fair as the counting stats appear to be, mostly because he's turning the ball over on 21.8 percent of his possessions. As that number comes down -- and it will come down, right? -- the advanced stats will begin to more accurately resemble what the most important player on a very good Syracuse team should look like on paper.
Julius Randle, Kentucky: Whatever Kentucky's ills, it is hard to pin them on Randle, the nation's most dominant physical force on the low block even when he's using that spin move way too much.
Honorable mentions: Jordan Adams (UCLA), Marcus Paige (UNC), Tyler Ennis (Syracuse), Gary Harris (Michigan State), Joseph Young (Oregon), Sam Dekker (Wisconsin), Chaz Williams (UMass), Tim Frazier (Penn State), Roberto Nelson (Oregon State), Kendall Williams (New Mexico), Caris LeVert (Michigan), Cleanthony Early (Wichita State), LaQuinton Ross (Ohio State), T.J. Warren (NC State), Augustine Rubit (South Alabama), James Bell (Villanova), DeAndre Kane (Iowa State)
Send in your questions and comments to Andy Katz and Myron Medcalf and we’ll post as many of them as we can.
That might be pushing it, I admit. But New Mexico State -- held to just 48 points in 62 possessions in Tucson, Ariz., Wednesday -- is a good team, a good program, the WAC's best of the past five seasons and a three-time tournament team since 2009-10. Arizona treated the Aggies like something out of Division III.
Sean Miller's team was good offensively, of course; you can't really blow out a capable team like that if you're not scoring with ease. (That was never more true than when Rondae Hollis-Jefferson did … well, just watch.) But even as the Wildcats took their time figuring out NMSU's well-conceived, off-kilter defense in the first half, they maintained a mostly comfortable lead by doing what they've done best in 2013-14: playing defense.
This is an easy point to lose amid all of the Aaron Gordon (and Hollis-Jefferson) highlights: The Wildcats are a much better defensive team than they were a year ago. Last season, they hovered around the top 50 in adjusted defensive efficiency. In 2013-14, they’re No. 5 overall. Thus far, Arizona is holding opponents to just 40.3 percent shooting from inside the arc and 27.2 percent outside of it, the product of a defensive reorientation that Stan Van Gundy could love.
Van Gundy's Orlando Magic teams were probably the first NBA teams to understand one of the core truths behind offense: midrange scoring is less efficient. The ease of layups and dunks is wiped away; the reward of three points is not a factor. So Van Gundy's best defenses, anchored by Dwight Howard in the middle, obsessively pressured the perimeter, happy to close out a little too hard if it meant giving up an 18-foot jumper instead of a 3.
Kentucky's 2011-12 national championship group was wired similarly. With Anthony Davis blocking everything in sight, UK's perimeter defenders could rush 3-point shooters and force them to put the ball on the floor. According to Hoop-Math.com, that team forced 39.2 percent of opponents' shots to come from midrange. It blocked 20.3 percent of them, which is completely insane, and opponents shot just 26.7.
In a much smaller sample size, the 2013-14 Wildcats have been even better at forcing opponents into inefficient choices. To date, 52.1 percent of shots by Arizona's foes have come in the midrange, and just 32.1 percent of those shots have connected. Arizona allows just 18.9 percent of field goal attempts at or around the rim. Thanks to the arrival of Gordon, as well as improved interior defense from just about everybody, it blocks a high rate of both kinds of attempts.
The development of Nick Johnson has been huge, and the arrival of T.J. McConnell has given the Wildcats a cohesion-minded distributor to help keep everything aligned. If Arizona goes to Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend and comes away with one of the most impressive nonconference victories of the season, those will be among the storylines. Gordon will be sure to provide highlights since NBA scouts will be in the building.
But the biggest difference between the merely good team of 2012-13 and the national title contender you see now goes beyond the immediately obvious. The real reason Miller's team has been the premier outfit of November and December is defense. The Wildcats are dictating terms.
Current UNM head coach Craig Neal inherited it.
And he couldn't be more pleased.
Neal isn't overconfident with the Jayhawks stumbling into the sold-out game in Kansas City Saturday. Nope, this is much more about New Mexico than Kansas for Neal. The Lobos have one blemish on their record, a loss to undefeated UMass in the semifinals of the Charleston Classic. That game came a day after a brutal overtime affair with UAB (proving to be a quality win after the Blazers' victory against North Carolina).
Since then, the Lobos have won at New Mexico State and took out a solid Cincinnati. They will follow up this Kansas game with a home game against New Mexico State and a neutral-site game against Marquette next Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
"If you told me when we were in Australia (for a summer trip in August) that we'd be 7-1 going into the Kansas game with this schedule I would have taken it," Neal said. "This is a tough stretch for us."
Neal said the freshmen haven't progressed to the point he thought they would, but that's fine. Australian senior forward Cameron Bairstow has been better. He's averaging 19.8 points and 7.1 rebounds. Alex Kirk was the headline name inside and Kendall Williams the marquee name on the perimeter, so getting the unexpected high level of production from Bairstow has elevated the Lobos.
Kansas poses plenty of matchup problems with defending Andrew Wiggins or hanging with Joel Embiid. But the Jayhawks will have to worry about Bairstow. And after losing on a last-second 3-pointer at Colorado and being unable to catch Florida in the second half, the Jayhawks have no room for error.
"He's doing everything," said Neal of Bairstow. "He can shoot it, drive it and is a helluva rebounder. He's physical and he can stay in front of people. He's guarding, too."
Neal said he's not thinking about the KU talent -- on the court. Rather, he holds Kansas coach Bill Self in such high regard that he fully expects the Jayhawks to be even stronger than they were in Gainesville on Tuesday because of Self alone.
The Lobos and Wooden Legacy champion San Diego State are the two clear favorites in the Mountain West. Boise State got rocked in its first test of the season at Kentucky. The Lobos would jump back into the polls with a neutral-site win over Kansas and re-emerge in the national conversation. Look what beating Kansas did for Colorado (ranked) and Florida (suddenly discussed as a national title contender).
"This is a huge barometer," Neal said. "The challenges keep coming. We won't play like Florida with a 1-3-1. But our guys are competing at a high level. We needed a game like this. We needed the Marquette game. We knew Kansas would be good, reloaded and a major challenge for us. We've got five neutral-court games and hopefully it will prepare us for three more of those in the Mountain West tournament [in Las Vegas in March]."
After a one-year hiatus, North Carolina and Kentucky renew their rivalry in Chapel Hill on Saturday.
Ol' Roy versus coach Cal.
One embraces the past. One constantly chases the future. They do things differently, but their contrasting philosophies often end with the same results.
The Tar Heels, who lead the all-time series 22-13, have a “White Out” promotion planned. Williams is too old school to go along with the theme by wearing a white suit. But that doesn’t mean he's outdated.
Perhaps that's what provoked UNC assistant coach C.B. McGrath, filling in on Williams' radio show Monday, to go on a rant reminding listeners of Williams' achievements at Carolina.
"Coach obviously has done a great job, with Twitter and this kind of stuff now, it's all about self-promotion," McGrath said. "Coach doesn’t have a Twitter account, he's not going to brag about himself."
Never mind that Calipari has his own website and Twitter account while Williams would like to retire never knowing what it's like to maintain either. Or that Williams once starred on his high school square dance team while Calipari once welcomed Jay Z into his locker room. Or even that Calipari's rosters tend to turn over from the exodus of players to the pros while Williams likes to add pieces each year to build a contender. When the teams meet at 5 p.m. ET in the Dean E. Smith Center, it's not a matchup of whose style is right and whose is wrong.
Williams and Calipari will have more in common than many realize. The Heels and Wildcats have both been a bit unpredictable this season.
Carolina players are still adapting to playing without P.J. Hairston and Leslie McDonald, who are still awaiting word on their eligibility. Their highs have included wins over Louisville and Michigan State, but their lows came in losses to Belmont and UAB.
UK assembled arguably the best freshman class in history, but relying on freshmen -- no matter how talented -- comes with some inconsistency. Earlier in the week Calipari said his team was so young, he had to teach them how to huddle. The Cats' losses were to ranked teams in Michigan State and Baylor, but they've still struggled to find their groove.
The team that wins Saturday will be one step closer to finding it.
They didn't have enough signature nonconference victories and they'd lost too many conference games to convince the selection committee that they deserved a bid.
Cuonzo Martin hopes to avoid the same situation in 2013-14. But the Vols have already suffered losses to Xavier and UTEP and are running out of opportunities to secure significant nonconference wins.
That’s why Saturday's game at No. 12 Wichita State is so important for a team that doesn't want to enter another Selection Sunday guessing about its fate. A road victory over the Shockers could be the difference on Selection Sunday 2014.
The Vols, who are ranked 15th in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom.com, have endured injuries. And they're giving freshmen, who are still adjusting, significant minutes.
But they added enough to be considered SEC sleepers. Jarnell Stokes wisely returned to school. Jeronne Maymon is back and healthy after missing last season with a knee injury. Antonio Barton transferred in from Memphis.
They’re all still jelling.
But Saturday could boost Tennessee’s prospects, or leave the Vols in an uneasy position. Last year, the Vols beat a similar Wichita State squad 69-60 in Knoxville. But the matchup in Wichita, Kan., this weekend will be a more difficult test.
The Shockers haven’t lost a game this season and are still feeding off the confidence that they gained by reaching the Final Four last season.
A victory over Wichita State would not only change Tennessee’s confidence but it would enhance its tourney resume. The Vols will play Virginia prior to SEC play, too. But Saturday’s matchup at Wichita State is the most valuable opportunity on their nonconference slate and alleviate a lot of pressure for Martin’s program.
And they aren't from Oklahoma State.
Nope, not Memphis, either.
But Louisiana Tech is not entirely different from either team, and while Saturday's game against the Bulldogs doesn't jump off the Oklahoma State schedule game like the two dates with the Tigers, it could prove every bit as difficult.
It's not so much a trap as it is a legitimately tough game.
The Bulldogs, if you recall, put together a 27-win season and a regular-season conference title in 2012-13 before stumbling down the stretch to miss out on a coveted NCAA tournament bid.
From that team, four starters and 11 players return, including most critically Raheem Appleby and Kenneth "Speedy" Smith. Appleby takes care of much of the scoring -- he's averaging 15.6 points -- and Smith, a defensive specialist, probably will be charged with the task of handling Marcus Smart. He's a pesky point guard who excels equally as a setup man (averaging 5.9 assists per game) and a swiper (2.83 steals).
Handling Smart is no small task, for certain, and will easily be the toughest assignment Smith faces all season, but if he can limit Smart's shots, this game could become very interesting.
The Bulldogs play the same uptempo style as Memphis and might even be a little more in control. Louisiana Tech averages 85 points and ranks sixth in the nation in steals, yet commits only 11 turnovers.
This is the biggest game Louisiana Tech will play this season. The Bulldogs jumped to Conference USA this season, and while an upgrade from the WAC, it still won't offer a lot of opportunities to impress the selection committee.
This one will.
And a year after a less-than-meaty schedule denied Louisiana Tech an NCAA bid, don't think the Bulldogs and their fans won't be all in when Oklahoma State pulls in to town.
Kansas isn’t the only team in America that’s struggling right now.
Here are five other squads that might stumble into conference play due to some early problems.
- Notre Dame (7-3): The Fighting Irish entered the season ranked 21st in the Associated Press preseason poll. And that’s where the hype stopped for this new ACC member. Notre Dame’s upset loss to North Dakota State in South Bend, Ind., on Wednesday night was the team’s third of the year. In each loss, opponents have made at least 48 percent of their shots against Mike Brey’s squad (48 percent for Indiana State, 56.9 percent for Iowa and 51 percent for North Dakota State).
- BYU (8-3): The Cougars entered the week averaging 89.9 ppg, sixth in the country. They put up 112 points against Stanford, 90 against Iowa State and 96 against UMass. Tyler Haws and Matt Carlino comprise one of the best offensive combos in college basketball. But BYU’s poor defense could ruin its chances of snatching the West Coast Conference title from Gonzaga. The Cougars entered the week with the 318th-ranked scoring defense after giving up 80.4 ppg in their first 10 matchups. That’s a problem.
- Marquette (5-4): The Golden Eagles were picked as the Big East favorites prior to the start of the season. But they’re having a lot of trouble on offense. The backcourt that led Buzz Williams’ program to the Elite Eight last season is gone. And Marquette, 83rd in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom.com, just can’t score consistently. The Golden Eagles scored just 35 points in a November loss to Ohio State. They’ve failed to break 60 points three times this season. They have three players averaging double figures (Jamil Wilson, Davante Gardner and Todd Mayo) but they haven’t been consistent.
- UNLV (3-4): Most teams suffer after losing key players. But the Runnin’ Rebels’ problems are a combination of departures -- Anthony Bennett was the No. 1 pick in last summer’s draft and Mike Moser transferred to Oregon -- and limited cohesiveness due to a multitude of new faces. Bryce Dejean-Jones (13.3 ppg) is one of just three UNLV players who logged 5.0 mpg or more last year. Dave Rice’s program is 260th in adjusted offensive efficiency. That’s what happens when a team loses more than 50.0 ppg of production.
- Temple (4-4): Even without last year’s star Khalif Wyatt (20.5 ppg), the Owls appeared to be potential contenders for the inaugural American Athletic Conference crown before the season started. But Temple has a multitude of problems. The Owls are shooting just 43.7 percent from the field, 211th overall. They’ve also given up 74.8 ppg, the ninth-ranked scoring defense in the American thus far. And they’re also at the bottom of the conference in 3-point shooting (30.3 percent from beyond the arc). Where should Fran Dunphy begin? The list of problems is lengthy and it grew after Saturday’s overtime loss to Texas.
With the game on the line in the final minutes of No. 19 Florida's 67-61 win over No. 13 Kansas on Tuesday night, his teammates had abandoned him on the baseline, nearly prompting a turnover on the inbound pass before Frank Mason rescued him.
That moment was a metaphor for this entire troubling start. Wiggins can't overcome Kansas' weaknesses alone. Even if he could walk on water – and he was otherworldly in his definitive 26-point, 11-rebound, two-block performance – the rules wouldn't let him pass to himself.
The Jayhawks need a combination of a deliberate Wiggins, efficient starters, reserves who make an impact and a defense that protects the paint and the perimeter (the Jayhawks rank seventh in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage defense).
They didn't have that combo in Gainesville. They didn't have it in Boulder, where they lost to Colorado, or at the Battle 4 Atlantis, where they lost to Villanova, either.
"I think it's on everybody," Wiggins said. "No one on the team lets all the pressure or all the negativity go to one person."
Wiggins needs someone, anyone, to ensure that he never goes another five minutes without a touch in the middle of an opponent's 21-0 run. He needs someone, anyone, to alert him when Patric Young's gladiator screens are threatening his livelihood. He needs someone, anyone, to recognize that it's not all on him. Can't be.
Read the rest of this story here.
This summer, Georgia made one of the stranger and more random offseason personnel announcements in recent college hoops memory. In late July, incoming freshman and Switzerland native Dusan Langura, was injured in an explosion during a military training exercise. Since World War II, Wikipedia soon clarified, all Swiss males between 18 and 50 have been required to enlist in the nation's army and maintain their uniform, weapon, and ammunition in their homes. You know, just in case.
Langura eventually made it to Georgia, but his story was a reminder of a few things. American college basketball is a thoroughly international game, and there are still plenty of places in the world -- even banking powers in the developed world that haven't engaged in armed conflict since 1815 -- where the idea of being a member of the armed services is a mere fact of life.
Israel is one such place, and far more famous for it than the Swiss. At the age of 18, Israeli citizens are required to report for Israeli Defense Forces enlistment and training. Males are required to serve for three years; females for two. As the Star-Ledger's Brendan Prunty reports, one of those males is Seton Hall guard Tom Maayan, whose redeployment to the IDF cut short his basketball career in rather sudden and emotional fashion Tuesday night.
Why so sudden? Maayan was originally ordered into basic training this summer. But through "lobbying and politicking with the Israeli government," Prunty writes, SHU and Maayan's guardian were able to get an exemption to play for the Pirates this season. In November, that exemption was shortened to 120 days. Seton Hall kept up its push, but the reprieve officially ended Tuesday night after the Pirates' win over NJIT. Coach Kevin Willard made the news public after informing an "emotional" locker room.
"I think the yo-yoing was tough for everybody," Willard said after in the hallway of the Prudential Center. "It was tough for him -- those are his teammates, his family. His extended family. Leaving them wasn't easy. It wasn't easy last time and it wasn't easy this time, either. But it is what it is."
"We knew about it, but it was definitely tough," [teammate Sterling] Gibbs said. "Tommy's like a brother to us. It's like losing one of your brothers."
Unlike last time, the departure will end Maayan's career. Maayan didn't speak with the media, but he seemed to take a positive tone on Twitter.
unfortunately It was my last game as a pirate..Love my teamates coaches and the Shu fam! Thanks for all the love! #SHUBB#PIRATE4LIFE— Tom Maayan (@TomMaayan) December 11, 2013
Good luck, Tom.
- It should be no surprise to anyone, of course, that the university presidents NCAA president Mark Emmert was elected to represent aren't falling over themselves to uproot college athletics' 100-year-old raison d'ętre. You may get some movement to be, or seem, more reasonable. You may get concessions. Likeness rights, stipends, even endorsements, if things get really crazy. But what you will not get is an NCAA group willing to admit that it should pay athletes a wage for their contributions to their athletic departments' bottom lines. In case you needed further confirmation, Emmert provided it at the IMG Intercollegiate Athletics Forum Wednesday, when he said a lot of things you should probably be aware of.
- Jordan Adams is really good. How good is really good? So good, in fact, that in addition to drawing fouls, avoiding them in his own right and creating steals on 6.4 percent of his possessions, Adams is shooting 37.1 percent from 3-point range and 62.1 percent inside the arc, good for a 134.6 offensive rating on 28.3 percent usage. No player in the country is more efficient at that usage threshold ($). How did this happen? Pachoops.com, with the assistance of the invaluable Hoop Math, incisively teases out Adams' shot distribution numbers: Adams has converted a vast swath of his midrange jumpers to rim attacks this season, and as a result his efficiency (and the rate at which he is fouled and sent to the free-throw line) has skyrocketed.
- Why has Maryland struggled so much this season? “I think it’s effort,” coach Mark Turgeon told the Washington Post. “Effort and concentration. That’s really what it comes down to."
- Indiana was eons better this week (at home against Oakland) than it was last week (on the road at Syracuse). Context has something to do with that. Inside the Hall examines the other reasons.
- Do you love college basketball? Movies? What about the variably great, constantly threatened, eventually hollowed-out NBC sitcom "Community"? Do you like your movies short? Are you interested in the story behind one of the greatest uniforms in the history of college basketball -- Marquette's famous 1977 "untucked" uniforms designed by Bo Ellis and championed by Al McGuire? Have I drilled so narrowly into your potential interest graph that you feel as if I am reading your mind? Because that's how I felt when I learned the ESPN "30 for 30" short "Untucked," directed by "Community" co-star Danny Pudi, was selected to be shown as one of 66 short films in the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. So many things I enjoy crammed into one little press release.
For most of the season, Providence has been without Dunn, who re-injured a torn labrum in his shoulder during an exhibition game back on Nov. 2. Dunn missed the first three games of the season, returned for four (against Vermont, Vanderbilt, La Salle and Maryland), played a combined 106 minutes, during which he averaged 3.8 points and posted a drastically low 69.8 offensive rating. He clearly looked hurt, in other words, and both player and program seem to be making the prudent decision: repair, heal, take your time.
That decision might be less of a blow to Dunn than the original injury, or these weeks of stop-and-start hope. The sophomore guard arrived at Providence alongside Ricky Ledo, backcourt gems of Cooley's startling 2012 class, and neither player's career has gone as planned. Ledo, a top-five point guard, failed to qualify academically, never played a game in a Providence uniform, and went pro at first opportunity. (There is an argument to be made that Cooley should have known as much and stayed away, and maybe he did. But was the risk not worth taking?) Dunn's ordeal is just plain bad luck: He missed most of his freshman year with the first torn labrum instance last fall, and he still hasn't had a chance to really play healthy, worry-free basketball.
What's worse, this year's promising pair of recruits -- four-star forward Brandon Austin, the No. 12-ranked small forward in the country; and Rodney Bullock, a three-star win -- haven't played a minute between them. Both players were suspended indefinitely by Cooley for team rules violations; they have yet to be given a reprieve.
Fortunately, Cooley has seniors Bryce Cotton and Kadeem Batts, junior LaDontae Henton, and sophomores Tyler Harris and Josh Fortune. Cooley has recruited well, despite the mishaps; he has a quality blend of players. But a Big East title run, or an NCAA tournament berth? Those expectations, like Dunn's injury, might require more patience.