Wednesday, August 7, 2013
3-point shot: Calipari finds freshman leaders
By Andy Katz
1. Kentucky coach John Calipari said he can already tell who his leaders may be for the upcoming season. Calipari said freshman Julius Randle and the Harrison twins, Aaron and Andrew, "are going to be the leaders." He said Randle has already proven in summer workouts just how much of an impact he'll have for the Wildcats. Calipari added freshman center Dakari Johnson has been the surprise so far and is producing at a higher clip than the Wildcats thought. What does this mean? "[Sophomore] Willie [Cauley-Stein] is going to have work for it," Calipari said about his returning big man getting challenged for minutes. Meanwhile, the other high-profile returnee, forward Alex Poythress isn't being asked to be a leader for Kentucky. "I just need him to play," said Calipari, "just play. He's not going to be a guy who stands up and tells people where to go. He's not that vocal. He just needs to play. Our leadership will come from one of those freshmen." Calipari said he's been impressed with the overall chemistry of this group, meshing quicker than he imagined.
2. New Big East commissioner Val Ackerman said the Big East is a few weeks away from finishing the conference schedule. The old Big East was traditionally one of the last conferences to get their schedule out because of pro commitments in arenas. The Big East and Fox Sports 1 teased the schedule in late June with the announcement of a five-game, New Year's Eve lineup starting at noon with St. John's at Xavier; followed at 2:30 p.m. with Seton Hall at Providence and then DePaul at Georgetown at 5 p.m., followed by Villanova at Butler at 7:30 p.m. and then closing with a headliner of Marquette at Creighton at 10 p.m. EST. Ackerman said she is still looking to make a significant number of hires, especially a full-time person to deal with television relationships. Former Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe continues to act as a consultant for the league and has helped in championship planning. Ackerman is working from a makeshift office in Manhattan but is still searching for long-term office space.
3. Angie Cretors was a creative hire by UConn athletic director Warde Manuel and one that will certainly help the continuing stabilization of the Huskies' athletic department. Cretors, named the school's Senior Associate Athletic Director, was respected by a number of Division I coaches while she was in NCAA enforcement. She had a presence at the Final Four and was not seen as intimidating at all, but rather a source of counsel for coaches to bounce things off of in dealing with compliance. Cretors built relationships which should bode well for her at UConn. Manuel's decision of hiring from the NCAA isn't new (Kentucky hired Rachel Newman Baker), but is yet another example of schools shoring up their own compliance departments and athletic department staff with people who know what the NCAA is looking for and how to handle any kind of issues which may arise. The continued attrition at the NCAA headquarters maybe weakening the home office but it's strengthening the membership.