College Basketball Nation: Barack Obama

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As of 1:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, there have been 6.97 million brackets entered in Tournament Challenge.

Here are some notes related to President Barack Obama's bracket, which was released earlier Wednesday, in relation to other brackets entered in the game:
  • 14 percent of brackets have Michigan State winning it all
  • 7.8 percent of brackets have Michigan State-Louisville in the title game
  • 9.2 percent of brackets have Final Four of Arizona, Florida, Louisville and Michigan State (the most popular Final Four combination); each team is the most popular pick in its respective region to reach the Final Four

Other notes on his upset picks:
  • 30.5 percent have 12-seed Harvard over 5-seed Cincinnati
  • 22.3 percent have 12-seed North Dakota State over 5-seed Oklahoma
  • 9-seeds Pittsburgh (71.7 percent) and Oklahoma State (66 percent) were already picked by the majority of Tournament Challenge brackets
  • 31.2 percent of brackets have 6-seed North Carolina in the Sweet 16
  • 25.4 percent of brackets have 6-seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16

Video: Barack-etology 2014

March, 19, 2014
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President Barack Obama fills out his bracket for the 2014 men's NCAA tournament.

Video: President Obama makes NCAA picks

March, 20, 2013
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President Barack Obama makes his selections for the NCAA tournament.

Craig Robinson recruits at DNC

September, 5, 2012
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The Democratic National Convention -- the second of our two scripted election-year political gatherings -- is currently taking place in Charlotte, N.C. You may have heard about this once or twice this week. Oregon State head men's basketball coach Craig Robinson is the brother of First Lady Michelle Obama. You may have heard about this once or twice in the past few years.

These two facts came together once more Tuesday night, when Michelle Obama gave a rousing and well-delivered speech* on behalf of her husband's bid for re-election. Robinson was in the building, but his presence wasn't limited to frequent crowd-reaction shots during his sister's speech. As he did at the 2008 DNC, Robinson took the stage -- this time with President Obama's sister, Maya Soetoro-ng -- to lobby on behalf of his sister's efforts to support military family initiatives and nutritional programs for American children. And he even snuck in a recruiting pitch:
"I’m Craig Robinson, Michelle Obama’s big brother, father of four and head coach of Oregon State University’s men’s basketball team. Any seven-footers out there, gimme a call! [...]

"[Michelle's] still the kind little sister she always was—now she’s just sticking up for those who stand up for us. And I’m proud of her work to give our children a healthier start in life. Let’s face it, Maya, I’m going to need the recruits!"

Obviously, those references to Robinson's profession were lighthearted and joking; he wasn't actually recruiting on the floor of the DNC. But four years ago, such nods didn't seem so trifling. There was a thought at the time -- back when candidate Obama was globally popular and untarnished by the rigors of the presidency -- that Robinson's family connections could genuinely serve as a recruiting tool. Come to Oregon State, be one phone call away from talking to President Obama. That may or may not be your personal cup of tea, but to 15-year-old recruits, it had to sound pretty cool.

Four years later, Robinson hasn't obviously leveraged that connection, and it's fair to wonder whether he'd even try. (Maybe he just doesn't want to go there. That would be admirable.) In any case, Robinson has won 18, 14, 10 and 21 games in each of his respective seasons at Oregon State, with nary an NCAA tournament bid to show for the marginal, if slow, improvement.

So, no, Robinson's national political visibility does not appear to be an asset to his basketball program. But recruiting is all about finding advantages at the margins, and lighthearted or no, every little bit helps.

*This being a sports concern, I won't make any of my political opinions overt. You don't care anyway. But I will say this: Michelle Obama's dress was pretty fabulous.
The Afternoon Links are (intermittently) back, and they are exactly what they say they are. Some days will bring more than others. This is the offseason, after all. If you have a link you'd like included, your best bet is to hit me on Twitter. You can also e-mail your link to collegebasketballnation at gmail.com, or use the submission form here.
  • The Sporting News's Mike DeCourcy reminds us this summer is the first during which players enrolled in summer classes will be allowed to participate in two hours of coach-supervised skill instruction per week. (This is a helpful reminder in and of itself; I had totally forgotten about this rule.) As such, Mike prescribes "summer jobs" to a handful of players seeking to make the leap from good to great, including UCLA's Josh Smith, whose overriding goal should be what Louis C.K. once famously phrased "be less people."
  • Our old friend Diamond Leung caught up with Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis on the possibility of future mind-blowingly awesome Carrier Classic-type events, and the news was promising: "There is nothing solidified," Hollis told Leung. "We’re looking at the possibility of something in '13 in Florida. It’s difficult to tie one of those billion-dollar warships down two years in advance, but if we did so, we’d want to take it to Florida." Among the possible opponents Hollis listed was Notre Dame, and I agree with Mr. Norlander: Notre Dame may not be the most high-profile opponent ever, but when we're talking about a basketball game on an active U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, it doesn't really matter how high-profile the opponent is. (I'd watch the Jesuit boys school Jeff Van Gundy constantly references on NBA broadcasts, provided they were playing on an aircraft carrier. More aircraft carrier!)
  • When Kendall Marshall broke a scaphoid bone in his right wrist during the NCAA tournament, there was talk -- just talk, but it was loud enough -- about the possibility that Marshall could return to the Tar Heels in a week or less. As it turns out, that was never even remotely possible. In an interview with the IMG Academy, Marshall revealed that while his wrist is nearly 100 percent, "... what people didn’t know is that I also fractured my elbow." Marshall has been limited in his draft prep, but is hoping to be ready for full contact at the June NBA draft combine.
  • One of the defendants implicated in the San Diego basketball point-shaving scheme plead guilty Thursday in San Diego to conspiracy to commit sports bribery, conduct an illegal gambling business and distribute marijuana. He faces up to five years in prison and is one of 10 defendants involved in the case, and the whole thing is probably still going to get worse before it gets better, if that's even possible.
  • Kansas guard Elijah Johnson and Kansas State guard Rodney McGruder may be rivals on the court, but they have at least one thing in common: Both are currently recovering from surgeries (Johnson on his knee, McGruder on his foot) undertaken this spring after the conclusion of the 2012 season. Both were limited in their movements in a Memorial Day camp in Kansas City, but both appeared in good spirits, and Johnson is already talking about taking over for senior guard Tyshawn Taylor as his team's primary ballhandler next season: “That’s how I want to embrace it,” Johnson said. “I feel when they get down to the last couple seconds in the game, I want everybody to look at me and feel comfortable. I don’t want people to look at me and not know what kind of mood I’m going to be in tonight. I want my teammates to know that every night I am trying to take them all the way as far as I can, further than we went last year and try to be positive in any situation.”
  • Pat Summitt will receive the Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama today -- the highest honor the president can bestow upon a civilian -- alongside Bob Dylan, Toni Morrison and a batch of other noteworthy folks. Well-deserved, to say the least.
  • Hot off the ESPN.com presses: Myron Medcalf laments and analyzes the latest nonconference scheduling trends, in which more and more schools are determined to avoid on-campus matchups in favor of exempt holiday tournaments and other less risky and less costly events. Andy Katz talked to coaches about the art of nonconference scheduling; it's a great look at the motives at work. (My bit on the rivalries I'd love to see survive conference realignment and remain as nonconference games came earlier in the day.) And in case you missed it over the weekend, Dana O'Neil chronicled the efforts of ESPN analyst Sean Farnham to create Hoops From Home, "a nonprofit organization that will bring free basketball camps coached and run by current and past NBA stars to the children of military personnel living on bases all around the world." Dig in, enjoy, you know the drill.
  • Non-college basketball break: There was the 32 and 13 line he put up, another in a lengthening list of amazing 2012 playoff performances, as well as the general athletic disadvantage a hobbled Heat team had over an even-more-hobbled Celtics squad, but it wasn't until LeBron James started laughing at Kevin Garnett's tough guy act that I knew the Celtics had no chance to win this series.
  • Basketball break: Joss Whedon wrote for "Roseanne?" True story! As someone who was 10 years old in 1995, it's easy for me to forget just how popular Roseanne was in the 1990s. But then I watched the first three seasons of "The Larry Sanders Show" on Netflix, and that helped me sort of figure it out. Speaking of which, "Larry Sanders" is the ultimate '90s pop-culture time capsule, from which I have learned two things: The ties were terrible, and the '90s were really weird. That's pretty much it.

Video: Behind the scenes with the President

March, 14, 2012
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Andy Katz and Doris Burke take viewers behind the scenes of President Barack Obama filling out his NCAA brackets.
John Henson, Adreian Payne, Brandon DawsonAP Photo/Mark J. TerrillPlayers from both teams gave their jerseys to servicemembers after Friday's game.
Thoughts, notes and anything else that didn’t quite make this space after North Carolina’s latest game (in this case, a 67-55 victory over Michigan State in the Carrier Classic on Friday night).

SAN DIEGO -- UNC coach Roy Williams, suffering a bout of vertigo, felt so sick Friday, “I was just trying to make sure I could remember what was up and what was down for a while,’’ he said.

But at least one of his players didn’t know he was ill until after the game.

Shooting guard Dexter Strickland said he saw his coach go down to one knee when he approached him during the game to ask him which play he wanted to run. “I asked him if he was OK, he said he was fine, and he gave me the play,’’ Strickland said. “But later, he told us he was feeling dizzy, and was ready to get off the ship.”

Williams said he’s had the vertigo problem for 14 or 15 years, “and there are some things you can do to help it. I talked to the doctor on this trip and made sure I did the right things and it worked out. But I enjoyed every possible moment of it. Hopefully I'll coach another 10-15 years, but it'll be hard to top this unless it's a Final Four."

A FAMILIAR GREETING: Sophomore Harrison Barnes was both surprised, and impressed, that President Barack Obama was already familiar with the Tar Heels when he met with them before the game.

“He said, 'Hey, Z [Tyler Zeller], good seeing you again. Hey John [Henson], are you going to block some shots? Harrison, are you going to make some 3s?' Barnes said. “It was kind of cool to see that he kind of knew us, he was in touch."

Obama has some history with the Tar Heels. In April 2008, then-Sen. Obama played pick-up with the team in Chapel Hill while on a campaign stop. He chose the Tar Heels to win the national title in an NCAA bracket the next season – then welcomed them to the White House when he was proven right.

“It’s kind of a humbling experience when the president knows who you are,’’ said Zeller, who was a freshman on that '09 national title team. “I don’t know if he knew me from when I met him the first time, or it’s one of those things where he’s seen me play on TV. It was very cool.”

CLOTHES SWAP: Credit Michigan State’s Draymond Green, according to Strickland, for approaching the Tar Heels after the game and suggesting both teams take off their camouflage jerseys and give them to the Wounded Warriors sitting courtside.

UNC’s bench attire was a nice tribute, too.

As a show of appreciation to the military, the coaches wore matching khaki combat boots, with cargo pants tucked in.

QUOTABLE: “Turn around and look – how many times have you never seen a full moon while watching a game at the Smith Center?” UNC associate athletics director for communications Steve Kirschner said, during a second half break in the action

Follow Robbi Pickeral on twitter at @bylinerp

Rapid Reaction: UNC 67, Michigan St. 55

November, 11, 2011
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SAN DIEGO -- A quick look at North Carolina’s 67-55 victory Friday over Michigan State in the Carrier Classic aboard the USS Carl Vinson:

What it means: It means nothing in the big scheme of things -- one game in November won’t make or break either of these teams. But certainly North Carolina didn’t want to come out in its first game and lay an egg, not with all the preseason excitement around this team. And the Tar Heels didn’t. They acquitted themselves well. Meanwhile, Michigan State also is what we expected. The Spartans have some good interior play with Draymond Green, Adreian Payne and Derrick Nix, but they need help outside and didn't get it Friday night (finished 2-of-20 from 3).

How it happened: No smoke and mirrors here. The Tar Heels simply have better players than the Spartans -- and lots of them. They were able to force Michigan State into mistakes and get out in transition to open up the game in their favor. Carolina was beaten on the boards, but it shot a respectable 46 percent given the conditions. Just 31 percent for MSU. Harrison Barnes led all scorers with 17 points, while teammate John Henson was 6-of-10 from the field. Kendall Marshall and Dexter Strickland dished out five assists apiece for UNC.

Halftime: Beat up on the boards early, North Carolina erased a seven-point first-half deficit by going to its bread and butter, its transition offense. The Tar Heels capitalized on missed Michigan State shots and forced turnovers to get out on the break, where the Spartans are simply no match. By the half, UNC led 36-25.

Hubbub: Since this wasn’t a typical game, time to point out some of the not-so-typical stuff. The pregame featured an all-sailor rock band, called The Destroyers, and in-game it was the tunes of the Navy Band. ... Some fans got to the flight deck by taking the lift used to bring the planes on board. ... Both teams sported camouflage-themed uniforms, and the UNC coaching staff wore khaki cargo pants tucked into military boots.

Quotable: "As some of you may know, because it was reported, the men and women of this ship were part of the critical mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice" -- President Barack Obama addressing the crowd before the tip.

What’s next: North Carolina will charter to Asheville, N.C., arriving sometime around 5 a.m. and playing UNC Asheville at 4 p.m. Sunday. The Bulldogs are opening a new arena, and Asheville is Roy Williams’ hometown. ... Michigan State, meantime, jets cross-country for a Tuesday-night tip against No. 6 Duke in the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Spartans will make a quick stop in East Lansing, heading to New York on Monday.

Video: Obama with Andy Katz

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
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President Obama addresses the game aboard the USS Carl Vinson and the scandal at Penn State.

Rain won't force Carrier Classic below deck

November, 11, 2011
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Editor's Note: For Dana O'Neil's game preview, click here. Also, check out a historic photo gallery of basketball being played on aircraft carriers for decades, including a WWII-era shot of a future President.

SAN DIEGO -- A number of sailors, some on and some off duty, milled around the court atop the USS Carl Vinson on Thursday, giddy about getting to watch North Carolina-Michigan State in an unprecedented event Friday.

The sailors, like everyone else involved in this game -- from the president to the Secretary of the Navy to the captain of the ship to every member of the military on board -- will still actually get the chance, regardless of the weather. The threat of rain is diminishing for Friday night, which is a huge relief to those who fretted over what was a more foreboding forecast a couple days ago.

The conditions were so perfect Thursday evening that Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said during the team’s shootaround, “We’re playing here. It will be this nice. It’s beautiful.’’

The decision to play the game on the deck, as originally planned, was actually made Wednesday morning, according to the game’s initial innovator, Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis. Hollis said a half-set was put together in the hangar below deck. And it was a disaster.

[+] EnlargeUSS Carl Vinson
Christopher Hanewinckel/US PresswireCrews stopped construction on the court in the indoor hangar bay after the area was ruled out. The plan is to go forward above deck.
If the game had been moved below deck, it would have had a totally different feel. Seating was only good for 2,500, rather than 7,000. Hollis said the Navy would have had to set up viewing stations around the ship with televisions. It simply wouldn't have been the same.

“It was like a small junior high gymnasium down there,’’ Hollis said. “No one wanted it to happen.’’

Not the coaches. Not the players. Not the military personnel. No one.

“I had a few of the troops say that if this game isn’t outside, they won’t see it,’’ North Carolina sophomore Harrison Barnes said.

Hollis said there is a rain contingency plan -- simply a rain delay. A number of servicemen from a nearby base volunteered throughout the week, setting up the court and the stands. They put a tarp, just like on a baseball diamond, over the court each of the past three days. A tarp was on the court Thursday night.

“We’ll stop it if there is any kind of moisture,’’ Hollis said. “The biggest concern is the safety of the student-athletes.’’

Those student-athletes certainly don't seem concerned, though.

“This is so special to be the first outdoor college basketball game and anyone who doesn’t play for Michigan State or North Carolina can’t say they played in it,’’ Michigan State senior forward Draymond Green said. “If we went underneath, we couldn’t have said it either.

"You worry about the rain, but I grew up playing outside on the playground, and if there’s wind just shoot it off the backboard.’’

Hollis said a number of waivers had to be granted by the NCAA.

“There were a lot of operational logistics we were dealing with since we had the government, the Navy, the two institutions and the NCAA,’’ Hollis said. “The approval of the uniforms, the long sleeves, the ability to come out a day earlier than normal. There were a lot of things that [Big East coordinator of officials] Art Hyland and [NCAA coordinator of officials] John Adams had to help us get through for all the waivers. We also had to get the endorsement of [NCAA president] Mark Emmert and [NCAA vice president] Greg Shaheen.’’

The setup on the Vinson's flight deck, where normally 39 jets are stationed, ready to be deployed, is as picture-perfect as any venue in the history of the sport. The court sits on the middle of the deck, with the San Diego skyline across the water. The stands, which seat 7,000, are next to the court, with courtside seating for dignitaries that will include President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.

[+] EnlargeHarrison Barnes
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill It was quite an experience when the players took the court for the first time Thursday.
At one point Thursday, sailors took turns sitting in their seats in their blue-tinted fatigues. The image was akin to an Army-Navy game.

North Carolina coach Roy Williams said he was filled with pride in advance of the game. His first reaction to coming on board the ship Wednesday was: “Wow. Wow. Every player had their phones and cameras out," Williams said. "No one was talking to each other. Their eyes and mouths were wide open. This is going to be a celebration.

"From the tipoff to the final horn, we’ll be working our tails off for the game. But we’ll be thinking about the smiles on the faces of the people who serve our country. We’re thrilled. It sends a cold chill for me just talking about it. It’s the neatest thing I’ve ever been involved in.’’

North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller said the last time he played outside was in middle school. He said he was a bit worried about his hook shot and sizing up the distance with the potential for wind.

The elements were on everyone’s mind, but not in a negative way.

“I like it out here,’’ North Carolina junior forward John Henson said. “I think we should get the Dean Dome to open up. I’d hate to go down low and miss this experience.’’

Barnes called the whole thing “unreal.”

“There’s no other way to say describe it," he said. "It’s so nice with the sky and the cool weather. There will be such a special aura about this game. No matter how far we go in the tournament, we’ll never see something like this. We’re showing appreciation for the troops, see how they live and this game is put in perspective.’’

Michigan State sophomore guard Keith Appling called this a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“I’m only concerned that a couple of my shots get some wind and they could far right or far left,’’ he said with a laugh. “It might be embarrassing with the president in the stands.’’

Nevertheless, this game will be outside, whether there is wind or mist. That much we know.

“Weather is not going to be a factor,’’ Green said. “It’s going to be great.’’

Obama likes outlook for Duke and UNC

September, 29, 2011
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President Obama correctly picked North Carolina to win the national championship in 2009, and like most college basketball observers, he thinks the Tar Heels will do well again this season.

But Obama was very much politically correct in discussing the state's college basketball teams toward the end of a sit-down interview with WXII-TV's Cameron Kent, deftly injecting Duke into the conversation and mentioning that he likes the Blue Devils as well.

"Tar Heel fans want to know if you are going to pick them in 2012 all the way," Kent said. "Wake Forest fans want to know if you have any eligibility left."

Obama, who knows North Carolina is a swing state for his campaign in 2012, laughed and made sure to inject Duke into the conversation as well.

"Wake Forest has gone through a tough time, but I'm sure they'll come back," he said. "Right now, it looks like both Duke and Carolina are going to have a great team.

"I'm going to have to look at 'em a little more carefully during the preseason -- during the early-season tournaments -- before I actually make my picks, but those two teams are going to be in the top 10 I suspect."

There are a few things to draw from this. Given a chance to joke about Wake Forest, Obama instead gave a vote of confidence and in turn might have earned a vote from Jeff Bzdelik. Obama also likes the preseason buzz generated by North Carolina and Duke. Also, no love for NC State?

And to all the fans who don't pay much attention to college basketball until conference play rolls around in late December and January, know that the president even watches the early-season tournaments so that he can fill out the best bracket he can come March.

So get excited for the start of college basketball. President Obama is already thinking about it, too.

Obama discusses Drake recruiting

October, 11, 2010
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President Barack Obama recently had a speaking engagement in a Des Moines, Iowa backyard that made headlines for the pointed questions he fielded, but he also got a chance during the event to show off his college basketball knowledge.

The event took place at the house of Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb, and according to the Des Moines Register, coach Mark Phelps and two of his players got the opportunity to speak with the President personally.
"I came over and introduced myself and he then asked what I did and I told him I was the basketball coach," Phelps said. "And he said, "That's what I thought. I've heard some things about your team -- I've heard you've got some outstanding recruiting classes coming in. Your boss (Clubb) has been talking about you.'"

Yes, President Obama is knowledgeable about how recruiting is going for the Missouri Valley Conference school. And there's good reason for this year's class getting the seal of approval.

Rayvonte Rice, ESPNU's No. 89-ranked small forward, was the runner-up for Mr. Basketball in Obama's home state of Illinois.

Phelps' freshman class also includes No. 42-ranked point guard Karl Madison and No. 52-ranked small forward Jeremy Jeffers. Kraidon Woods, a 6-foot-8 forward, is able to play immediately after transferring from Binghamton.

So things are looking up for Drake coming off a 14-19 season. They're even on Obama's radar.

Craig Robinson has a message of hope

September, 24, 2010
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Oregon State coach Craig Robinson will participate in the National Book Festival on the National Mall tomorrow, speaking about and signing copies of his memoir, "A Game of Character."

That's just one of the many perks of being brother to the first lady, who along with President Obama are honorary chairs for the event.

But it's away from the Washington scene where Robinson is spreading his own message of hope, as far as the traditionally non-threatening Beavers are concerned.

During a speaking engagement last week near Salem, Ore., The Statesman Journal quoted him as saying, "I'm hoping in two, three years that we're competing at the top of the league on a regular basis."

The road map for Pac-10 respectability seems to have been laid out after Robinson got an early look in workouts at his recruiting class -- one that for the second consecutive year looks very impressive.

Ahmad Starks could make an immediate impact as a true point guard after being recruited out of Robinson's hometown of Chicago. The Beavers got even more athletic by bringing in 6-foot-8 power forward Devon Collier from the Bronx and 6-9 UTEP transfer Eric Moreland, who is eligible to play immediately.

The addition of 6-11 post player Chris Brown not only gave Robinson more height to work with, but also a way for the member of the First Family to stay on message at that United Way event last week.
"Now it looks like we're a real team when we walk around the airport," Robinson joked. "Before I was always asked if I coached the soccer team."

Hope abounds, as a young Beavers squad coming off a 14-18 season is at least a lot more imposing that it once was.

Knee surgery ends Kyle Singler's summer

September, 3, 2010
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Here's video of Duke star Kyle Singler hard at work at the Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp earlier this summer, courtesy of The Hoops Report.

And here's a Duke press release announcing that Singler underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today while indicating how the Final Four MVP's rigorous offseason might have contributed to the issue.

"Kyle had some discomfort in his knee following a very busy summer so we elected to go in and clean it up prior to the start of the season," Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski said in a statement. "By all accounts, today's surgery was a success and Kyle will be back at full strength before the start of practice."

The surgery appears to be minor, but it's apparent that Singler's workload over the summer took its toll. Among his activities:

" Camper: Besides the Chris Paul camp, Singler also attended the Deron Williams Skills Academy, the Kevin Durant Camp, and the LeBron James Skills Academy in order to fine-tune his game and play in pickup games with pros and other college stars.

" Practice player: Singler also tested himself against pros as part of a contingent of college players selected to go attend a training camp in Las Vegas designed to prepare Team USA for the world championship.

"Being around the pros has been really good to see what they go through to prepare for competition," Singler said in July. "Being exposed to the whole lifestyle and the amount of attention these guys get is a great learning experience."

" Shuttle driver: During his off time, Singler spent five days driving around participants in a shuttle van for the K Academy, coach Mike Krzyzewski's fantasy camp. One of the campers even had Singler driving the van into a small ditch.

Mix in a visit to the White House to celebrate the NCAA title with President Obama, a trip to Los Angeles to collect an ESPY award, and time spent at home in Oregon hosting his youth basketball tournament, and it's been an eventful offseason for Singler.

Oh, and he found time to join Twitter.

Now it's time to rest and recover for what's sure to be a pressure-packed season defending the national title.

Calipari learns sports and politics don't mix

July, 22, 2010
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Kentucky coach John Calipari has announced that he has canceled a previously scheduled $1,000-a-person fundraiser at his home to benefit Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat up for re-election, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The paper reported that news of the Calipari cocktail reception drew criticism from its readers for the coach taking a political stance and that he also received a negative reaction in September for writing on his Facebook page that he intended to send a Kentucky jersey to President Obama.

It was via Facebook that Calipari gave this statement last night:
I hope by now you all realize that I don't take my position as your basketball coach lightly. I know how politically charged this state is and I recognize that the Big Blue Nation comes from both sides of the aisle. I appreciate every elected official who supports the University of Kentucky, regardless of party.

That said the Governor's event planned for August 11 -- along with other charitable functions scheduled for our home -- have been canceled after realizing the full plate of both professional and pressing, personal matters I will be tending to in the next couple of months. Ellen and I do hope this discussion will lead you to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming elections.
The Courier-Journal notes that while no Republican has yet to file to run against Beshear, among his potential challengers is former Kentucky player Richie Farmer.

Also, the school has a history of its basketball coaches getting involved in politics. Rick Pitino appeared on campus with Bill Clinton on the eve of the 1996 election, and Republican senator Jim Bunning later wrote an angry letter to Pitino saying he would no longer be a Kentucky fan.

Of course, Bunning ultimately couldn't stop following the Wildcats. In February, he complained of having to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina game in order to block an unemployment bill.

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