The NCAA — the organization responsible for the health of collegiate athletics — has found itself embroiled in a myriad of lawsuits of late. Some have been filed over money, like the suit led by former UCLA star Ed O’Bannon, seeking compensation for their likenesses being used in NCAA-licensed products. Others concern the health of student-athletes and the NCAA’s role in preventing concussions. At least ten class-action suits have been filed against the NCAA claiming rules were not enforced, putting players at risk of injury.
While the results of these suits will be telling, the process of fighting them has opened the NCAA up to examination of records and documents submitted in court. To that end, Nathan Fenno of the Washington Times published excerpts from court filings yesterday that display the NCAA as detached at best, and negligent at worst. The money quotes:
“The NCAA denies that it has a legal duty to protect student-athletes,” the document said, “but admits that it was ‘founded to protect young people from the dangerous and exploitative athletic practices of the time.’”
“The NCAA admits that a founding purpose was to protect student-athletes,” the document said.
“The NCAA denies that it has a legal duty to protect student-athletes,” the document said.
The NCAA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, giving them favorable tax status because of their stated purpose of protecting the athletics of its member universities and advocating on behalf of their amateur athletes. Yet, as college football has become immensely profitable and the NCAA as an organization marries itself to television networks that have driven NCAA revenue over $870 million, it’s becoming more and more difficult to decipher who they are actually working to help.
The comments made in these filings should be read more as legal strategy (a denial of culpability) than a true admission of disinterest in the health of its athletes. However, they in line with a troubling trend that is leading many national voices to pine for reform.
The NCAA has stood idly by while college football powers (and ESPN) have manipulated the conference landscape to maximize profits at the expense of financial equality. Their influence has waned and their recent actions have revealed motives of self-preservation more than advancement of their member schools. Their punishment for academic and recruiting violations is inconsistent, if not conspiratorial.
As the criticisms mount, and advocates push for fairness and equality, another storm may be brewing on the NCAA’s flank. Following the creation of the giant football power conferences, several university athletics directors and Big 12 Commission Bob Bowlsby, unsatisfied with the massive amounts of money they were about to make, began floating the possibility of breaking away and forming their own division of college sports. One immune from the burdensome and antiquated policies employed by the NCAA.
All of this speaks to deep-rooted problems within the organization. Problems that the NCAA seems unwilling to acknowledge, let alone solve. These lawsuits will continue to bruise the NCAA. Their public image will continue to suffer, even as many of the suits are likely to get settled out of court. Luckily for the NCAA, they still have a lot of money to pay damages.
UConn fell to Stanford (8-2) late Wednesday evening, 53-51 — a frustrating loss and the Huskies’ first of the season. After a stellar first half that dispelled the notion that UConn may be rusty following a prolonged layoff for final exams, the Huskies absolutely fell apart.
Here’s some statistics for the pessimists in the crowd. In the second half, UConn shot 16% from the floor. They scored 13 points. They were 0-12 from three. Shabazz Napier alone was 0-5 from three, missed his last six shots, and came up short at the end of the game when UConn still had a chance to win it.
Ryan Boatright and Omar Calhoun both continued their cold streaks. Calhoun was 1-6 from three and 1-8 from the floor. Boatright was 0-2 from deep and 3-11 overall. For most of the season, that pair has been bailed out by the hot shooting of Lasan Kromah and Niels Giffey. Against Stanford, that duo went a combined 2-6 from deep, 0-3 in the second half.
The front court play was nothing short of atrocious in both halves for UConn. Phil Nolan and Amida Brimah each played 13 minutes. Brimah managed four rebounds and two blocks but again looked overmatched against quality opponents. Tyler Olander was also ineffective. After three misses shots, several of the “why in the hell are you shooting that?” variety, the crowd serenaded the senior with boos as he made his way to the bench.
UConn’s best offensive player was DeAndre Daniels. Why the rest of the squad launched 21 three-pointers, Daniels took only one (and he made it). He finished with a team-high 15 points on 6-10 shooting. However, as the Husky offense fell apart, Daniels barely touched the ball. Daniels hit a layup to give UConn a 47-46 lead with 8:33 left in the game. He did not attempt a shot until the final buzzer, save for a semi-miraculous tip-in of an offensive rebound.
UConn (#10, 9-1) chose to live or die by the three-pointer, practically ignoring Daniels against Stanford’s tough zone defense. Ball movement suffered, only two fast-break points were scored after halftime, and nothing went their way.
For the optimists, here’s the take away: this was a fluke. The 13 second-half points are the lowest point total in a half in over a decade (after an historically terrible first half against UMass, UConn would actually win that game). This year’s team is talented and full of shooters. They’re not going to shoot 0% from deep in a half very often. In you ignore the fallacy of the predetermined outcome, a sole make would’ve won the game for the Huskies.
Although it was somewhat odd that coach Kevin Ollie didn’t shuffle the roster even more to find a spark (Terrence Samuel and Kenton Facey never checked in), it was encouraging to see UConn employ a small lineup when their big men were struggling so mightily. Lasan Kromah and Shabazz Napier led the team with five rebounds each. If that’s happening, it doesn’t particularly matter if you have a seven-footer on the court.
All in all, this was a bad loss, but it is what it is. It won’t be the last game UConn loses this season but you can take comfort in the fact that they will probably not play a worse half of basketball.
- The odd weeknight late start didn’t seem to effect the players. The crowd topped 11,000 — which was good — but man did they get quiet when UConn let the game slip away. The Huskies didn’t give the XL Center patrons a whole lot to cheer for, but it’s got to be tough to play in a silent arena at home.
- Napier took the loss especially hard, faulting himself for not getting his teammates going. Asked if he iced himself by not attempting to score much until late, he said he doesn’t need to see the ball go in the basket to get hot. He never felt cold, or in a shooting slump.
- New UConn Football coach Bob Diaco was introduced in the first half and gave a rousing speech to the XL Center crowd. He praised both the men’s and women’s basketball teams and encouraged everyone to buy football season tickets. And he did it very handsomely.
The Huskies are traveling to Seattle on Thursday in advance of another Pac 10 matchup, this time against Washington on Sunday December 22nd. Tip is 3:30pm and will be ESPNU.
We live in an age where it’s never too soon to evaluate and place a ranking on a basketball player. Hell, a quick google search will tell you who the best 8th graders in the country are. The college ranks are no different, where outlets specializing in forecasting the upcoming NBA Draft have been analyzing NCAA players and placing them on Top 100 lists and mock drafts since before the season started.
As it stands, some combination of Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins, Kentucky’s Julius Randle and Duke’s Jabari Parker are almost universally topping the leaderboards. When last we checked in during the preseason, UConn’s three prospective stars — Shabazz Napier, DeAndre Daniels and Ryan Boatright — were flying decidedly under the radar. Daniels topped out at #29 on NBADraft.net, while Napier was ranked 44th by ESPN’s Chad Ford.
Today, Daniels has virtually vanished from all Draft rankings. Neither NBADraft.net nor DraftExpress.com even mention Daniels, while ESPN lists him, Napier and Boatright in the dubious “Second Round/Undrafted” category.
Ryan Boatright is also missing from most mock drafts. The undersized guard hasn’t been a world-beater this year and, as such, hasn’t seen much movement in his stock from last season, when he was forced to return to UConn despite hoping for an early shot at the NBA.
Napier has taken the biggest step forward in the NBADraft.net rankings. He now sits at #29, the exact spot Daniels occupied in July — Napier was listed #46 at that time. DraftExpress has him 50th overall, the 20th pick of the second round.
As we discussed ad nauseam last season, the NCAA Tournament is historically where UConn players have boosted their national profile. With that card back in the deck this year, the Husky stars (and senior Niels Giffey) will have their chance to make their marks on a big stage. Still, the mock drafts give you an interesting perspective of how UConn’s players are looked at nationally — or overlooked, nationally.
Via a press release from UConn:
UConn redshirt freshman Rodney Purvis (Raleigh, N.C.) is scheduled to undergo shoulder surgery Tuesday morning at the UConn Health Center in Farmington for a left labral repair.
The surgery, a left shoulder arthroscopy, will repair a torn labrum as well as tighten up muscles to stabilize a condition that has bothered Purvis since high school. The surgery is expected to alleviate sporadic episodes of pain he has suffered throughout the past few years while playing basketball.
An MRI done earlier this year revealed the condition and the decision was made to have the surgery now, while Purvis is forced to sit out this season following his transfer from North Carolina State. The recovery period is usually 4-5 months, allowing him to have a full off-season when he is able to return to basketball activities.
Purvis, a 6-4 guard, had been practicing with the Huskies up to this point. He will have three seasons of eligibility, beginning in 2014-15.
Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
As the holiday season rolls on, and the pressure of trying to find your loved ones the perfect gifts start to weigh on you, your friends at A Dime Back have done the hard work for you. We have scoured eBay on your behalf, combing through hundreds of boring items like iPads and jetpacks to find you the best the internet has to offer. Of course, with a UConn tie-in.
Every Day Apparel:
Is your loved one so poorly dressed that it’s becoming embarrassing? Then perhaps we can interest you in this sweet t-shirt. The model certainly looks happy. Don’t you want your family to be happy too? No? Oh. Then how about this beauty? Notice how the stars really compliment the demented Jonathan.
Tis the season of giving, but tis also the season of freezing. Protect that special someone from the elements with this pullover Starter jacket. Or hunt through your parents’ garage for one, because you know you had one exactly like this.
Should your secret Santa not fit into a Boys size 12, here’s a backup option. This Starter sweatshirt may not keep its owner from freezing to death as they walk from Towers to Arjona, but they’ll look damn good when they’re discovered — in like June when the snow finally melts.
Dress Like the Stars:
Relive the glory days of your favorite UConn stars of yesteryear by snatching up these vintage jerseys. There’s Donyell Marshall from his Jazz days. Ray Allen’s Bucks uniform. Rip Hamilton’s Wizards garments — before Michael Jordan had him traded for beating him in HORSE. And Ben Gordon’s Bulls jersey, two teams and an awful lot of money ago.
Read Like the Press:
“Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” That’s what you can yell on holiday morning as you win the love of your relatives with the 1979 UConn Football Media Guide. Surely a crowd pleaser. If an unending history of mediocrity isn’t your thing, there’s plenty of basketball media guides on the eBay as well. Here’s a good one — the 1996-1997 preseason prospectus, obviously.
Isn’t it weird how that friend of yours has no pictures on his wall? What’s their deal? It’s creepy, frankly. If you’re unwilling to get new friends, get that weird person this awesome Travis Knight photo! It’s autographed so it’s super official and very frame-worthy.
For the high-rollers, how about this beautiful Ray Allen poster from his Seattle days?
Learn To Read:
Instead of the latest, super awesome video game that will rot the brain of the youngsters in your life, get them something to read! They may not appreciate it now, or ever, but…I lost my train of thought. How about the first edition (whoa) of the Jim Calhoun classic Dare to Dream? It can be yours for $6.99 with free shipping! The jokes stopped two sentences ago. You should legitimately buy this.
Or, you could purchase whatever the hell this is. Honestly, I have no idea what this is. Help me. It appears someone has simply turned Rashad Anderson’s Wikipedia page into a book and called it a book about Rashad Anderson. Could be cool?
Everybody loves weird Christmas shit, and it doesn’t get much weirder or much shittier than this Santa wearing a UConn uniform dribbling a basketball. Look at the intensity on this guy. Quite the conversation piece.
For the loved one who enjoys telling time, get them this half clock/half plaque celebrating the 1990 Big East Championship! Possibly pawned by Tate George!
We hope this guide has helped. If you’re still short on gift ideas, you can purchase some officially-licensed UConn swag from their official store. Half of all proceeds go to a future football coach, so it’s kinda like charity. As always, if you find fun, awesome or weird stuff, post it in the comments! Have a happy and healthy holiday season!
For those of you who don’t pay attention to such frivolities, Shabazz Napier just became the second player in UConn history to reach the coveted 1300-point, 500-assist, 400-rebound plateau, joining Doron “Iceman” Sheffer, everyone’s favorite Israeli point guard. This is one of those “random collection of stats” things where we make a player look more exceptional than he is buy creating arbitrary end points that fit him and (almost) no one else. This particular time, it becomes a little more interesting, at least for me, because the player he joins is Doron Sheffer.
Despite the similar stats, Sheffer and Napier have very little in common as UConn point guards. When Sheffer arrived on campus in 1993, he was basically a finished product. He turned 22 that season, and he’d already led Hapoel Galil Elyon to an Israeli League Championship, beating powerhouse Maccabi Tel Aviv in the process. Napier, on the other hand, had reclassified so he could come to UConn a season early. Sheffer was a disciplined and sharp player right away, beating out Ray Allen for a starting spot that first season. Napier, on the other hand, has given us the great pleasure of watching him turn into a great leader.
In addition, the two players are very dissimilar in how they acquired their similar stats. As a scorer, Sheffer did a lot of his work from behind the arc, and was an accomplished sharpshooter his entire career. Napier is no stranger to the three-pointer, but his accuracy didn’t approach Sheffer’s until last season (and this season, he’s been otherworldly from deep). Sheffer was a big guard, coming in at 6-5, so his rebounding prowess was no surprise. Napier, on the other hand, likes to pretend that he’s over 6-feet, but still manages to rebound effectively with exceptional positioning, aggressiveness, and some pretty impressive hops. Sheffer generally preferred to run the offense from higher above the key, finding cutters with crisp passes, and he loved the long outlet pass coming right off the rebound. Napier gets his assists by attacking the basket and moving the ball to open shooters when the defense sags to him. Not mentioned in the cavalcade of stats up top, both players are accomplished ballhawks (Napier passed Sheffer during the Maine game to move into third-place all-time in steals at UConn). Their defensive styles were very different, though; Sheffer was always a heady defender with quick hands, and he played passing lanes brilliantly. Napier is an aggressive on-ball defender who uses terrific footwork to force his opponents into bad situations which allow him to go for the strip.
So, in conclusion, Napier and Sheffer are very similar and very different players, all at the same time. I know I feel lucky to have gotten to watch both.
As the newly-minted #9 UConn Huskies take a break from the court to focus on their final exams, it seems as good a time as any check out some stats, about a third of the way into the season.
This exercise began with a hunch and a loaded hypothesis, that UConn shoots better on campus in Gampel Pavilion than they do in the XL Center in Hartford. While historically that might hold true, through nine games this season, that would be false. The team is shooting 53.4% in Hartford and only 50.3% in Storrs. Of course, when playing Maine, Loyola (Md.) and Yale, there is a pretty good chance you’ll shoot the lights out. Still, it is what it is.
On the year, UConn ranks 35th in the nation in field goal percentage at 49.1%. For reference, they shot 44.2% a year ago. They are shooting an average of 4.88% better than what their opponents typically allow. So, if an opponent was allowing 50% shooting on the year, UConn is typically shooting 54.88% against them. UConn’s offense has outperformed every opponent’s defense with the exception of that horrible Boston College game. Boston College allows opponents to shoot 47.4%. UConn managed just 39.3%.
UConn is also 21st in the country in scoring defense. Opponents are shooting just 37.7% against the Huskies.
On an individual level, senior Niels Giffey is 2nd in the country in three-point shooting at an insane 66.7%. Shabazz Napier is tied for 19th at 57.1%. It’s no wonder UConn is torching zone defenses this season, when you can bury threes, you’re pretty much unstoppable. Guess Syracuse escaped just in time.
Of course, most of these numbers are tainted by UConn’s usual cupcake schedule. The problem with playing teams like Loyola and Detroit is that you have to take the results with a massive grain of salt. Big wins against the likes of Florida and Indiana have justified the excitement around the state, but the going is about to get tough.
The final three non-conference games this month are against Stanford, at regular Washington and in Bridgeport against Eastern Washington. The results of those three games should tell us more about this UConn team that any of the statistics cited above.
Today, UConn Athletic Director Warde Manuel begins the most important task of his young tenure at the school: finding a new coach for his football team. This should have been Manuel’s second time making a crucial hire in a revenue-positive sport, as he also oversaw a critical coaching transition for the men’s basketball team. As you no doubt know, Manuel was robbed of his autonomy, first by Jim Calhoun’s stubborn and arrogant meddling, and then by Kevin Ollie proving Calhoun right.
This is a little different. First of all, Manuel doesn’t have a football version of Kevin Ollie, both extremely qualified and enthusiastic for the job. He also doesn’t have a plum job with loads of prestige, capable of attracting elite coaches from successful universities. He’s going to have to look a fair bit harder than he would have for a new basketball coach, and also a lot harder than Jeff Hathaway did to find Paul Pasqualoni.
The other day, my sister said to me that the football team needs to find their Jim Calhoun/Geno Auriemma. In other words, they need to find a qualified, relatively unknown head coach who will take over the program, lead it to success, and then stick around. I know a lot of UConn fans feel this way, probably due to watching Randy Edsall leverage his success at UConn into the head coaching job at Big 10-bound Maryland.
Unfortunately, candidates like this are hard to come by, especially in football. We aren’t likely to see a football coach who sticks around for 20 years at UConn, at least until they’re both more-established and in a better conference. At this point, if the coach is really successful, he’ll be a target for a bigger and better job. Unless you’re an elite program, if you have a candidate for whom your job is his “dream job,” it probably means that he isn’t good enough for it.
We give Hathaway a hard time for Pasqualoni’s embarrassing failure as head coach, but that serves to really illustrate how hard it is to find a head coach to run a major college football team. Hathaway had his own set of obstacles at the time, not the least of which was Edsall’s not-so-timely exit, which came after Steve Addazio, Hathaway’s rumored first choice, had already been hired to take over at Temple. After that, the top available candidates included Mike Leach, who had always demonstrated ample potential to embarrass his employer, Garrick McGee, who has since floundered at UAB, and Eric Mangini, who doesn’t need me to explain why that wasn’t a good idea.
Furthermore, we need to not expect the kind of immediate success that the school saw following Edsall’s hiring. The biggest factor in UConn’s quick development wasn’t Edsall’s coaching so much as it was an influx of money into an exciting new program, and a local NFL talent at the quarterback position who decided he wanted to stay close to home. As much as I’m excited about Casey Cochran, let’s not start lying to ourselves about his future.
That all being said, these last three games showed us what this team is capable of, provided it has adequate leadership. I don’t think that Cochran is Dan Orlovsky, but he’s definitely good enough to win in the AAC (and probably the ACC, when we finally get around to making that move). Add talented running backs Lyle McCombs and Max DeLorenzo and wide receiver Geremy Davis, and it’s clear that, whoever coaches UConn next year, he won’t have a bare cupboard to work with. With that in mind, let’s look at some of the candidates:
The first, and most obvious candidate, is interim head coach TJ Weist. I don’t know Weist, but he seems like a genuine, hard-working guy, and he’s gotten the team to play together down the stretch. Furthermore, he seems to really want the UConn job. That being said, he was also the offensive coordinator and/or head coach for the 0-9 start, and his resume isn’t particularly substantive. This job is the best job he might have a shot at, and I’m not sure that’s where we want to turn again.
My personal favorite candidate is Michigan State defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. He’s the coordinator for one of the best defensive units in the country, and his stock is on the rise with yesterday’s Big 10 Championship win over Ohio State. He’s lauded as an excellent recruiter, and he’s a Connecticut native, having been born in New Haven. No, he’s probably not a permanent choice, being only 47, but Narduzzi is the kind of guy who could put the program back on the right track, establish UConn as a northeast recruiting power, and win a few bowl games before he snags a head coaching job at notable school in the Big 10. I also like the idea of bringing in a defensive-minded coach because it leaves open the option of keeping Weist around and in control of an offense he seems to have fixed.
Towson head coach Rob Ambrose is another option. Towson, you may recall, made UConn look awfully bad on opening day this season, and after two rough seasons after he was hired, Ambrose has guided Towson to a 27-9 record over the last three years, as they’ve started to establish themselves as one of the top teams in the FCS. More relevantly to UConn, he served as the Huskies’ QB coach and then offensive coordinator for 7 seasons (2002-2008). Given his ties to the region and Towson’s status as an FCS school, Ambrose would likely be a much easier get than Narduzzi.
I’ve heard several other options, such as Ball State head coach Pete Lembo and UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone, but Narduzzi and Ambrose are definitely the two best options from where I’m standing. Regardless of who ends up taking the job, Manuel needs to make an exhaustive search, or we could be looking at a middling athletic program for a long, long time.
In a game devoid of suspense, UConn head coach Kevin Ollie found moments to teach. As the Huskies routed Maine (1-7) on Friday night, three freshman notched significant minutes and showed the sparse XL Center crowd a glimpse of the future.
The trio of Amida Brimah, Kenton Facey and Terrence Samuel didn’t dazzle — although Brimah picked up several highlight reel blocks — but they were consistent, and calm. For much of the second half, Samuel ran the point. There were bumps along the way (four turnovers), but also bright spots (four assists) that drew praise from the likes of starting guard Ryan Boatright.
Brimah and Facey each played 18 minutes. Brimah picked up four blocks, delighting the crowd. Facey had a team-high nine rebounds. While Facey looked great, it wasn’t exactly stiff competition.
Brimah is now averaging 3.2 blocks-per-game. For reference, as a freshman, Hasheem Thabeet averaged 3.81 and Emeka Okafor averaged 4.06. The comparisons are inevitable, but it’s fun to look back at how dominant Thabeet and Okafor were, even as youngsters.
Nothing really noteworthy happened in the game. #12 UConn improved to 9-0 on the season. The Huskies won the rebounding battle. Omar Calhoun got his groove back a little — going 5-12 from the floor for 16 points. Ryan Boatright was probably the Huskies’s best player with 17 points, five assists and only one turnover.
Shabazz Napier picked up his usual bizarre assortment of stats — seven points, eight assists, five rebounds and four steals. One of those assists was Napier’s 500th of his career, making him only the second player in UConn history with over 1,300 career points, 500 assists and 400 rebounds. The other is Doron Sheffer, a former teammate of Ollie’s from the mid-90’s.
UConn will take 12 days off for finals, before returning to the XL Center on Wednesday, December 18th for a tough matchup against Stanford.