College Basketball Nation: Ernie Zeigler

3-point shot: More errors in judgment

November, 29, 2012
1. Clemson's Milton Jennings had better be apologizing to his Tigers teammates for quite some time after his arrest early Wednesday for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana, according to the Anderson (S.C.) Independent Mail. Why? The Tigers played well for a rebuilding club at the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., and should have protected their home court and beaten Purdue in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday. Instead, the Tigers lost to the Boilermakers by 12. Jennings was averaging a team-high 10.8 points a game. Jennings' lack of leadership had a direct effect on this loss. Meanwhile, Ernie Zeigler, the former Central Michigan coach and father of Pitt forward Trey Zeigler, said his son has apologized to team staff and in person to athletic director Steve Pederson for a DUI over the weekend. Zeigler has been indefinitely suspended by Pitt coach Jamie Dixon. "Trey is a very good kid who made a bad mistake,'' said his father. "He showed very poor judgment. He will be disciplined by the judicial system, currently by coach Dixon and, more importantly, by his parents. We are extremely confident Trey will learn, grow and ultimately respond in the appropriate fashion to the adversity he brought upon himself.''

2. Tulane coach Ed Conroy is confident that the Green Wave can live up to the challenge of playing their games at the New Orleans Arena (capacity 18,500) when they join the Big East rather than playing at the Devlin Fieldhouse (formerly Fogelman), which holds 3,600. Conroy said the setup will be similar to St. John's, which plays its marquee games at Madison Square Garden and other random games on its campus in Queens, N.Y. Conroy said Tulane will play non-conference games at Devlin and Big East games at the home of the NBA's Hornets. Conroy said playing the Big East games at the Hornets' site was part of the deal of admission to the conference. Of course, this further complicates scheduling for the Big East, most notably assistant commissioner Tom Odjakjian. He lost school-controlled arenas at Louisville, Rutgers and Notre Dame in 2014 and '15 and added one in Tulane that nevertheless will be at the mercy of the NBA schedule. Odjakjian also got one campus-controlled arena and one where he'll have to wrestle pro dates away from the NBA with Temple and Memphis, respectively.

3. The frustrations at Texas are bubbling over. Texas gave the NCAA information on Myck Kabongo's paid workout last May (former teammate and current Cleveland Cavalier Tristan Thompson has already been quoted saying he paid for the plane ticket but Kabongo's brother paid him back). The school submitted its paperwork "a while ago,'' according to a source, but no word from the NCAA on any penalty. Texas has already held Kabongo out of six games and the Longhorns are 4-2 in his absence.

3-point shot: Zeigler seeking waiver

April, 10, 2012
1. Ernie Zeigler told Sunday that his son Trey would sit out next season and then play two seasons at Pitt. But the Panthers will make an attempt to seek a waiver for Zeigler to play next season. Duke was going to seek the same thing had Zeigler chosen the Blue Devils. The premise is that Zeigler had to leave Central Michigan because his father was fired as head coach.

2. Kansas coach Bill Self said Ben McLemore is eligible and ready to go for next season. Self said in the preseason that McLemore might have been the team’s most-ready NBA level talent. That was before Thomas Robinson had a breakthrough season. But if McLemore has the impact projected then the Jayhawks should be in the thick of the title race again next season.

3. San Diego State will play UCLA in the Wooden Classic on Dec. 1 at the Honda Center. Give SDSU coach Steve Fisher credit for constantly trying to upgrade the Aztecs schedule. But these types of games will become even more important once San Diego State moves to the Big West in 2013. The Aztecs will need to secure neutral-site games against top competition due to the lower conference power rating of the Big West compared to the Mountain West. Conversely, this will be a dangerous game for UCLA. SDSU should be the favored team to win in this game.

Staying up for Central Michigan a good idea

November, 15, 2010
Central Michigan plays at Hawaii Monday night in a Rainbow Classic game that tips off at 11 p.m. local time and 4 a.m. on the East Coast, and for those wondering how in the world they'll either stay or get up to watch this one, here are some sources of inspiration.

Two nights earlier in Hawaii around the same time, Central Michigan's overtime game against Montana State was just ending. Thrilling, we know. And yes, people were in the stands heroically doing their best to stay awake and watch two non-local, non-power conference teams slug it out.

From Central Michigan's website:
At the end of Saturday night's exciting overtime game, there were only about 55 fans in the arena for the second half and both schools' broadcasters could be easily heard from the benches during the quiet points of the game, despite being on the opposite side of the court.

The Chippewas ended up losing, but The 55 who remained got to say they were there to see highly regarded freshman Trey Zeigler score 21 points for his father, coach Ernie Zeigler.

The night before that, Zeigler made his debut with 11 points and eight rebounds as Central Michigan won against Cal State Fullerton on a buzzer-beater 3-pointer from Jalin Thomas, who was sick during the game but found a way to send everyone home happy.

So the benchmark for college basketball late-night watching has been set. Go to sleep at your own risk Monday night.

Detroit's schedule looks like fun

September, 14, 2010
In a YouTube video interview discussing Detroit's schedule this season, coach Ray McCallum appears to misspeak, calling his season-opening opponent the "University of Mexico."

But there was no flubbing the actual schedule, with the Titans playing three teams coming off 30-win seasons, including the University of New Mexico to open the season.

Really, McCallum is well aware of the challenge and opportunity of playing the Lobos on the debut of the renovated Pit, with his son and top recruit, Ray McCallum, Jr., set to make his debut in a hostile environment.

"They were a No. 3 seed and a top-10 team in the country last year and will be back in the NCAA tournament," the elder McCallum said. "I think that's how your team can grow and learn a lot about themselves."

Three days later, the Titans will play at Syracuse as part of the Legends Classic and then treat their fans by hosting a subregional of the event, facing Albany, Bowling Green and Niagara on consecutive nights.

On Dec. 18, Detroit will get time on national television playing at Central Michigan in a game that had its tipoff time changed in order to accommodate ESPNU and is sure to attract attention.

It'll be a battle between two teams featuring fathers as coaches and freshman sons who were highly recruited but chose to play for mid-major programs. Central Michigan coach Ernie Zeigler and his son, Trey, will look forward to matching up against Detroit's duo.

Only after that does the Horizon League schedule begin, with games against Butler on ESPN as well.
If I told you that the No. 17-ranked player on the ESPNU 100 list committed to play his college basketball at a Horizon League school, and that school wasn't Butler, what would you say? What about if I said the No. 33-ranked player just told the world he was going to spend his college career at Central Michigan? You'd be more than a little confused, right?

Then, being the smart person that you are, you'd investigate further, only to find that both of these players -- Detroit's Ray McCallum, Jr. and CMU's Trey Zeigler -- committed to those schools because their respective fathers are the respective coaches. Hey, this is easy! Recruiting has never been so simple.

Yes, McCallum and Ziegler both officially announced their decisions to go play for their dads on Wednesday. Amid jokes of less yard work (funny) and increased allowance (a little too close to the improper benefits bone to be really tasty, but oh well), both players said they'd relish the opportunity to help their fathers build programs at places that are known less for their NBA players and more for their, well, um ... hmm. Exactly what are Detroit and Central Michigan known for?

That's the point, actually. McCallum and Ziegler made very clear choices on behalf of their families. Instead of going to any number of elite programs with gigantic budgets and a history of developing NBA talent -- when you're No. 17 or No. 33 in the country, you pretty much have your pick of the litter -- they chose to help their fathers attempt to build something Butler-esque at otherwise low-profile places. (Or, at the very least, put a few good years together in time to take a power conference job. Ahem.)

The question is whether that's the right strategy for the players. Sure, it's selfless. Some selflessness is great. But since when should college basketball players with potential NBA futures be entirely selfless? There's an NBA out there, and it would stand to reason that playing somewhere high-profile like Kansas or Kentucky would increase your odds of getting drafted at a exponential rate compared to, say, Mt. Pleasant, Mich.

This isn't an unheard-of view, either. The Sporting Blog's always-excellent Chris Littman almost made this argument yesterday. To wit:

While I can't really argue with that point, isn't there something to be said for going to a program that has a rep of producing NBA players? [...] And really, my point was more playing Devil's Advocate anyway, but there is something to be said for the high-major route to the NBA. Sure, you could star at a school like Davidson, but big numbers are always viewed with great skepticism at low and mid-major institutions. Look at some of the guys declaring early from high-major programs and think about the numbers they would've had to put up at a smaller school to even think about declaring.

There's no question there's a tradeoff there -- playing and succeeding at a big school simply confers more legitimacy in the scouts' eyes in regards to a potential NBA player's chances of succeeding in the pros. No question. At the same time, though, it's 2010, and in 2010 we have satellite TV and the Internet and all sorts of really awesome telecommunications things -- to say nothing of the legion of scouts each NBA team employs -- which ensure that a really good, NBA-worthy player at a small basketball school doesn't go unnoticed. Will Ray McCallum and Trey Zeigler get the same level of attention at Detroit and CMU that they would have gotten in the Big Ten? Probably not. But they can still get to the NBA. If that means helping Pops build his program in the meantime, well, that's just loyalty. And there's nothing wrong with that.