- Andy Katz, ESPN Senior Writer
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1. The World University Games USA team trimmed its roster down to 16 players on Wednesday. The team is loaded with Creighton's Doug McDermott, Michigan State's Adreian Payne, Duke's Rodney Hood, Baylor's Cory Jefferson and Colorado's Spencer Dinwiddie. Virginia's Joe Harris withdrew due to a stress fracture in his left foot (which should be of concern to Cavs fans since he's a must for them next season). North Carolina's P.J. Hairston didn't make the team due to a back injury. The surprise was that Hairston was even in Colorado Springs for the tryouts. Hairston was arrested recently (along with two others) for possession of marijuana. Harrison was cited for driving without a license. A day later, we learned that a 9mm firearm with ammunition was discovered next to a rental car he was driving. Why would USA basketball invite Hairston with the charges hanging over him? Why have him in Russia for the World University Games with questions surrounding his status with the law? A spokesperson said from the Czech Republic at the FIBA U-19 World Championships that USA basketball issued a statement after speaking with UNC coach Roy Williams. USA basketball was "comfortable with P.J. Hairston participating,'' in training camp. That's a bit weak to only talk to Williams as to whether or Hairston should be at the trials. USA basketball was fortunate a decision was made for it with the Hairston injury. USA basketball has made all the right moves recently, but this wasn't one of them.
2. New Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said the conference is set at 10. If this conference is going to be all about basketball then 10 is the magic number. The Big 12 is finding out what the Pac-12 (then the Pac-10) knew for years. Having a true round-robin makes for the most equitable conference season and ultimate champion. The new Big East doesn't need anymore of the A-10 schools to be solvent. They have enough of the market place and would not benefit much from adding more schools simply to get more teams in the tournament. There is not even guarantee that would occur. The most pressing moves Ackerman has to do in the coming weeks -- outside of visiting every school -- is to hire a staff, find rental space in New York City and finalize a difficult schedule because of the pro-arena conflicts for many of the teams. Ackerman impressed the media on Wednesday's conference call with her command of the issues and knowledge of the landscape after not being involved in college athletics recently -- aside from putting together a constructive critique of the women's college game.
3. Georgetown's Otto Porter said former teammates Markel Starks and D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera are going to have breakthrough seasons next year. He was also really high on UCLA transfer Josh Smith, who will be eligible at mid-semester. Smith has had plenty of hype and potential and this redshirt year (last spring semester and this fall) are probably two of the most important semesters of his career. If Smith is in shape and ready to play then he could be a difference maker for the Hoyas in the new Big East.