College Basketball Nation: Georgia State Panthers

3-point shot: Izzo's optimism

June, 20, 2014
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In today's 3-point shot, Andy Katz reports on Michigan State's offseason and Tom Izzo's optimism, Izzo's preference to schedule games against military academies and how Georgia State is building its team.

Video: Louisiana-Lafayette wins Sun Belt

March, 16, 2014
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Louisiana-Lafayette rallied to drop Georgia State in overtime to win the Sun Belt title.

A conversation with Ron Hunter

February, 3, 2014
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With a 101-91 overtime victory over Texas-Arlington on Saturday, coach Ron Hunter's Georgia State squad established a school record with its 12th consecutive victory. Devonta White, whose 3-pointer at the end of regulation sent the game into overtime, scored 30 points, coach's son R.J. Hunter dropped 31 and Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow scored 22. The game was the culmination of a bizarre week for Hunter’s program. The Panthers had to postpone last week’s scheduled matchup against South Alabama because of a winter storm that disrupted life in Atlanta and also affected the Georgia State basketball team. Hunter recently spoke with ESPN.com about his squad’s first season in the Sun Belt, the streak and the recent chaos in his city.

[+] EnlargeRon Hunter
AP Photo/Dave MartinGeorgia State head coach Ron Hunter has the Panthers on a 12-game winning streak and in first place in the Sun Belt.
So how does it feel to set a school record for consecutive wins?

Hunter: We like it, but that was never one of our goals. Our goal was to win this league and get ourselves into the NCAA tournament. This just happens to come with it. We haven’t talked much about it. It’s great for our school, though. Georgia State hasn’t had a lot of things to cheer about over the last 10 to 15 years. We’re just happy that people are excited about basketball again. It’s great for the school. But for us as a team, we don’t talk much about it. We’re more concerned about trying to win this league.

After adding Harrow, how did you all build chemistry so early?

Hunter: It wasn’t early. It took us a while to kind of figure it out. We lost two games early we felt like we should’ve won. We had guys playing out of position a little bit. ... We had to figure some things out. I had to change some things. They had to. Once we got it figured out, it’s been great. What helps is that they’re all great kids. Ryan Harrow could have messed everything up. We were gonna be pretty good anyway. And he really came in and he just really, really fit in. He didn’t try to [boast], "I played at Kentucky" or "I was a [high school] All-American." He never used any of that. His buy-in was the key.

How difficult was this past week with the storm and postponed game?

Hunter: It was crazy because we couldn’t practice. The coaches couldn’t. The players were already on campus. So for two days, they practiced. I let [R.J. Hunter] and [White] run practice. We were so off for the first half of this game [on Saturday]. My son could never coach for me, ever, because we were so bad. (Laughing) I sent them the practice plan. He said, "Dad, I got it. We’re going to run through this." I don’t know what they did in our absence, but it sure didn’t work. We were off for the first half.

Where were you when the team was practicing?

Hunter: I was home. I couldn’t get in. None of my assistants could make it into downtown. My players all live on campus, so they were able to do it. We couldn’t get in. I was so nervous, so I called and said, "Hey, what are we doing?" They told me [they] were working on defense. But I don’t think that’s what [they] were working on. We gave up 91 points the other night. We scored 101. I know what [they] were working on.

So it sounds as though R.J. has already ruined his chance to become your assistant one day?

Hunter: (Laughing) Yeah, I told him he’s not going into the family business. He’d better make some money somewhere else.

How can you all maintain this momentum?

Hunter: One of the things we keep talking about is we don’t want to look too far into the future. I know what’s happened in this league in the past, where the winner of this league has not gone to the [NCAA] tournament. That’s something we’re very mindful about. We’re just now playing our best basketball. We’re peaking at the right time.

3-point shot: Read your contracts

July, 18, 2013
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1. The fallout from Kent State winning a $1.2 million settlement from former coach Geno Ford for leaving for Bradley may make coaches re-read their contracts very carefully. According to one prominent coaching agent, "coaches will be forced to structure their contracts a certain way. Buyout language is absolutely huge. A lot of times coaches don't realize it until they are put in a position of getting terminated or leaving for another job. Most times contracts are finalized so quickly these days. These coaches must pay attention to details." We've seen this before in coaches leaving from West Virginia to Michigan in men's basketball and football and a number of others. But many times these are negotiated settlements, rarely a court case awarding the school. The Kent State case should cause coaches to pause and ensure their contracts are favorable in case they bolt early.

2. We released 11 tournaments that are on our family of networks on ESPN.com Tuesday and Wednesday. There were a lot of twitter inquiries about when the Battle 4 Atlantis will be unveiled. Well, according to those organizers, the field should be announced later this month. Kansas and Andrew Wiggins headline the event in the Bahamas with Villanova, Iowa, USC, Xavier, Tennessee, UTEP and Wake Forest. The Battle 4 Atlantis has been on the NBC Sports Network in the past. The one other tournament that should be mentioned on ESPN is the NIT Season Tip-Off, which is run by the NCAA. Duke and Arizona are on opposite sides of the bracket with Rutgers and Alabama as the other two hosts. The NIT Season Tip-Off is the one tournament where teams still have to earn their way to the neutral site.

3. More waivers were granted Wednesday for players to compete immediately. Malik Smith got the word he can compete for his former coach at FIU, Richard Pitino, who will be his new coach at Minnesota. Ryan Harrow, who wanted to be closer to home where he is dealing with family issues, won his waiver to play immediately at Georgia State after playing last season at Kentucky. Meanwhile, Marshall's DeAndre Kane got his graduate degree as expected and will play the upcoming season at Iowa State. Transferring is no longer an epidemic, it is reality, and it seems like more transfers are playing immediately instead of sitting out a year.

Video: Duke 74, Georgia State 55

November, 9, 2012
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Mason Plumlee had 19 points and 14 rebounds as eighth-ranked Duke opened with a 74-55 victory over Georgia State.

ESPN.com's Colonial preview

October, 25, 2012
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Before we get to team-by-team previews for the Colonial Athletic Association, here is Dana O'Neil's team-by-team analysis of the nonconference schedules in the CAA. For in-depth previews of all 11 CAA teams, check out Blue Ribbon's breakdowns: Insider

Delaware
Drexel Insider Free
George Mason
Georgia State
Hofstra
James Madison
Northeastern
Old Dominion
Towson
UNC Wilmington
William & Mary

Nonconference schedule analysis: CAA

October, 9, 2012
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This week, ESPN.com is breaking down the nonconference schedules of each and every team in a dozen of nation's top leagues. On Monday, we began with the ACC, SEC and C-USA. We started Tuesday with the A-10 and Big East and now it's off to the Colonial Athletic Association ...

DELAWARE

Toughest: NIT Season Tip-Off (Nov. 12-23), at Duke (Dec. 1)
Next-toughest: at Temple (Nov. 25), at Villanova (Dec. 16)
The rest: at Lafayette (Nov. 28), Radford (Dec. 4), Delaware State (Dec. 8), Penn (Dec. 21), Rider (Dec. 31)
Toughness scale: 8 -- Kudos to Monte Ross for giving a fairly veteran Blue Hens team a schedule to truly test its worth. Delaware is trying to make inroads in this tough league and the best way to do that is to play big-boy teams. If the Blue Hens can beat Penn in the NIT, they'll most likely play at Virginia with a chance to advance to Madison Square Garden for the NIT semifinals. It would be a huge spotlight for the program.

DREXEL

Toughest: Anaheim Classic (Nov. 22-25), Saint Joseph's (Dec. 31)
Next-toughest: at Kent State (Nov. 9), Illinois State (Nov. 15), at Princeton (Dec. 8 )
The rest: at Penn (Nov. 17), Rider (Dec. 1), Tennessee State (Dec. 4), Fairfield (Dec. 16), Davidson (Dec. 22)
Toughness scale: 3 -- Really? After missing out on the NCAA tournament last season because of their lack of nonconference schedule strength, this is the best the Dragons could come up with? For a team that should be favored to win this league? They'll open with tough Saint Mary's in Anaheim, but the field out there is just not that strong. Kind of like this schedule.

GEORGE MASON

Toughest: Virginia (Nov. 9), Paradise Jam (Nov. 16-19), vs. Maryland (Dec. 2 in Washington, D.C.), at South Florida (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: at Bucknell (Nov. 13), Boston U (Nov. 24), Northern Iowa (Dec. 8), vs. Richmond (Dec. 22 at Richmond Coliseum)
The rest: at Rhode Island (Nov. 28), UMBC (Dec. 4)
Toughness scale: 8 -- This could get even better if the Patriots make their way through the Paradise Jam and square off against UConn (the opener is against A-Sun favorite Mercer). As it is, it’s pretty darned good anyway, what with the likes of the three big six tourney contenders at the top and some decent mid-majors filling out the middle.

GEORGIA STATE

Toughest: at Duke (Nov. 9), at BYU (Nov. 13)
Next-toughest: Southern Miss (Dec. 18), at Rhode Island (Dec. 22)
The rest: Monmouth (Nov. 19), Tennessee State (Nov. 20), South Alabama (Nov. 21), East Carolina (Nov. 26), Louisiana Tech (Nov. 30), at Liberty (Dec. 2), Southern Poly (Dec. 8), at Troy (Dec. 15), at Georgia Southern (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 7 -- Ron Hunter didn’t take long to put his stamp on the Georgia State program, leading the Panthers to the second-most wins in school history. This team might have a hard time matching that number with a schedule like this (opening at two of the toughest places to play in the country), but recognizing the value of playing people for a mid-major, Hunter built a good foundation for the Panthers this season with this nonconference slate.

HOFSTRA

Toughest: at Purdue (Nov. 11)
Next-toughest: Marshall (Nov. 18), at LIU-Brooklyn (Dec. 8 )
The rest: at Monmouth (Nov. 9), District of Columbia (Nov. 17), at Manhattan (Nov. 21), at George Washington (Nov. 24), SMU (Dec. 1), Wagner (Dec. 4), Wright State (Dec. 15), vs. Tulane (Dec. 22 in Brooklyn, N.Y.), at Florida Atlantic (Jan. 1)
Toughness scale: 4 -- Mo Cassara is trying to get things back on track at Hofstra and has a fairly young roster, so a little wiggle room is understandable. Still, for a team that has its share of talent to call on in the form of Jamal Coombs-McDaniel and Taran Buie (who were suspended for the first two games of the season), you’d kind of hope for and expect more.

JAMES MADISON

Toughest: at UCLA (Nov. 15)
Next-toughest: Richmond (Dec. 8), at Miami (Ohio) (Nov. 24)
The rest: at Duquesne (Nov. 19), vs. Youngstown State (Nov. 20 in Pittsburgh), vs. North Dakota State (Nov. 21 in Pittsburgh), George Washington (Nov. 28), Winthrop (Dec. 1), East Tennessee State (Dec. 5), UNC-Greensboro (Dec. 16), vs. San Jose State (Dec. 22 in Las Vegas), vs. San Diego (Dec. 23 in Las Vegas), at Hampton (Jan. 7)
Toughness scale: 7 -- Nothing like two cross-country trips from Harrisonburg, Va., to make life fun, especially when one includes a stop in Westwood. There are some opportunities here for a roster that includes three returning starters -- and getting Richmond and GW at home is nice.

NORTHEASTERN

Toughest: at Princeton (Nov. 13), Massachusetts (Dec. 4)
Next-toughest: Boston U (Nov. 9), Great Alaska Shootout (Nov. 21-24), La Salle (Dec. 8), UNC Asheville (Dec. 18)
The rest: Vermont (Nov. 17), Maine (Nov. 28), at Central Connecticut State (Dec. 21), at UAB (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 3 -- Besides home games against A-10 sleepers UMass and La Salle, not much here to get terribly excited about, not when the rest of the league is putting some name-brand games on the schedule. Maybe a second-round game against Belmont in Anchorage?

OLD DOMINION

Toughest: at Murray State (Nov. 24), VCU (Dec. 7), vs. Virginia (Dec. 22 in Richmond)
Next-toughest: at Cleveland State (Nov. 17), Richmond (Dec. 4), UCF (Dec. 14), at Charleston (Dec. 18)
The rest: Holy Cross (Nov. 10), UTSA (Nov. 11), VMI (Nov. 21), Fairfield (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 7 -- In his last go-round in the CAA, Blaine Taylor has a good schedule that is both meaty and winnable, the perfect combination of games that might catch the committee’s eyes but aren’t impossible mountains for his team to climb.

TOWSON
Toughest: at Georgetown (Dec. 8), at Temple (Dec. 12), at Oregon State (Dec. 29)
Next-toughest: at Charleston (Nov. 9), at Vermont (Dec. 5)
The rest: vs. Radford (Nov. 16 in Richmond, Ky.), at Eastern Kentucky (Nov. 17), vs. Kennesaw State (Nov. 18 in Richmond, Ky.), vs. Cincinnati Christian (Nov. 19 in Richmond, Ky.), at UMBC (Dec. 1), North Dakota State (Dec. 15), Coppin State (Dec. 19)
Toughness scale: 5 -- After the Tigers finished 1-31 a season ago (the one win came in conference play), there are plenty of games you can go ahead and put in the L column, including those toughies on the road in December. But Towson should be improved enough -- and a few opponents bad enough -- that a repeat of the one-win nightmare is highly unlikely.

UNC-WILMINGTON

Toughest: at Ohio (Nov. 16), at Purdue (Nov. 21), at Davidson (Dec. 15)
Next-toughest: UNC Asheville (Nov. 11), at Richmond (Nov. 13), at Marshall (Dec. 1), at Georgia Tech (Dec. 8 )
The rest: Wofford (Nov. 24), Hampton (Nov. 25), Coker (Dec. 5), UNC-Greensboro (Dec. 19), at Campbell (Dec. 29)
Toughness scale: 6 -- Buzz Peterson still has work to do in Wilmington, so a schedule that doesn’t kill his team makes sense. But Coker? Really? That said, there's quite a road gantlet here -- one that includes stops at Purdue, Ohio, Davidson, Richmond, Marshall and Georgia Tech. That should be fun.

WILLIAM & MARY

Toughest: at Purdue (Dec. 29), at Vanderbilt (Jan. 2)
Next-toughest: at Wake Forest (Nov. 23), at Richmond (Nov. 28)
The rest: Hampton (Nov. 9), at Liberty (Nov. 12), at High Point (Nov. 17), Miami (Ohio) (Nov. 21), Howard (Dec. 6), at Radford (Dec. 8), Salisbury (Dec. 21)
Toughness scale: 4 -- This is the all-name schedule. Purdue, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest have the national recognition, but none of them will exactly be at their best this season -- although each will be heavily favored over the Tribe. For a program that has struggled so much lately, though, there are some winnable confidence-builders mixed in.
1. Maryland coach Mark Turgeon made his final plea to the Harrison twins -- Andrew and Aaron -- on Wednesday with a visit in Texas, hoping they would commit to the Terps on Thursday at 5 p.m. on ESPNU. Turgeon has poured quite a bit of time since his arrival in College Park to try to lure the potentially game-changing brothers. If he loses, it will be to Kentucky, so he can’t really complain. But it will be hard for Maryland to come up with a plan B. The drop-off from the Harrison twins is quite steep. They have the potential to be ACC championship-caliber players -- much more than just recruits who will be solid players that keep Maryland in the mix. To add to the drama, Maryland plays Kentucky in the season opener for both schools at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Nov. 9. If Maryland lands the players, Kentucky will move on to the next big thing. If Kentucky gets the pair, it will be even more difficult for Turgeon and staff to go against UK, knowing that they couldn’t beat Big Blue off the court and possibly on it, as well.

2. Practice is a week away and Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy says he has the most quality depth in his six years in Oxford. The Rebels have been a perennial early bubble team, only to find itself more to the NIT’s liking under Kennedy -- Ole Miss has been in the NIT in five of Kennedy’s six seasons. He returns three senior starters and adds six players, three to four of whom Kennedy expects will play significant minutes. The gem returnee, though, isn’t a senior. It’s Jarvis Summers, a sophomore guard who led SEC freshmen with a 43.6 percent 3-point percentage last season. The problem for the Rebels is that the non-conference schedule which is once again light. Ole Miss plays only one team that is projected to be in the NCAA tournament -- San Diego State at the Diamond Head Classic in December. Ole Miss will have to earn the bid in the SEC.

3. The alignment saga is quiet -- for now. But there are still spots to fill in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, Colonial Athletic Association and America East. One school that is quietly hoping its phone rings is Monmouth. The New Jersey university would take a ticket out of the Northeast Conference if it came from the CAA or the MAAC. Facilities and location are a plus. The CAA, though, still needs Davidson and Charleston if it’s going to get a significant bump out of expansion after losing Virginia Commonwealth, Old Dominion and Georgia State. Quinnipiac would listen to the MAAC and America East (and of course the CAA, too, but that’s doubtful). The America East loses any of its leverage to lure if it sees Stony Brook depart -- and the Seawolves' football program is on its way to the CAA in 2013.
1. Keith Clanton will be the most coveted men’s basketball transfer if he wants to leave Central Florida in time for the fall semester after the NCAA handed down a postseason ban for 2013. The senior power forward is a legit, highly-skilled power player who would immediately help a team make an NCAA tournament run. If Clanton were to leave, a number of sources assume (maybe wrongly) that he would stay in state. Florida sounds like a natural fit, but would Gators coach Billy Donovan take a player off his former assistant’s team and crush Donnie Jones’ chances of at least being a contender for a regular-season C-USA title? Florida State sounds good, too. But the school that would make the most sense is South Florida. The Bulls recruited Clanton hard out of Orlando Christian Prep. The Bulls made the NCAA tournament last season, beating Cal in the First Four in Dayton, then Temple before losing to upstart Ohio in the third round in Nashville. USF has one of the top guards in the Big East in Anthony Collins. Coach Stan Heath has a power player in Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and a small forward in Victor Rudd Jr. But the depth upfront is lacking and the Bulls definitely have a scholarship available. Clanton would come in and immediately bolster this unit and give it a reliable scoring pop for an offensively challenged crew. Heath has depth at guard with Shaun Noriega and Jawanza Poland along with JC transfer Javontae Hawkins. But if the Bulls could land Clanton then he would be a game changer for USF in the Big East. Oh, and the Bulls -- in anticipation of UCF joining the Big East in 2013 -- scheduled an in-season home-and-home with UCF, including the season opener Nov. 10 at the Bulls’ renovated new Sun Dome.

2. The strength of the Duke and Syracuse staffs was on display last week at ESPN’s Wide of World Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at an AAU tournament. Seeing Syracuse’s Gerry McNamara and Duke’s Jeff Capel, a former head coach at Oklahoma, was yet another reminder how the Olympic commitment for Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski and Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim has no negative impact on recruiting. Both schools continued to get top commitments during their Olympic coaching experience, and when they’re gone they have recognizable faces on the road representing them and their schools.

3. Georgia State left Tuesday for South Africa as coach Ron Hunter embarked on delivering shoes to impoverished children on behalf of Samaritan’s Feet. Hunter is making his sixth trip and his first with Georgia State after five sojourns with his former school, IUPUI. A number of schools are going on foreign trips next month to play games. Georgia State isn’t picking up a basketball. The 10-day trip is all about doing what is good, pure and right. Once again, Hunter deserves praise for acting instead of reacting, actually doing rather than pontificating, and being hands on with a tangible deed in lieu of simply sending financial assistance.
Ron Hunter led Georgia State to a 22-win season and a sixth-place finish in the Colonial Athletic Association during his first year with the Panthers in 2011-12.

He’s spent the offseason addressing his program’s current predicament with its conference affiliation. The CAA has blocked Georgia State -- preparing for a move to the Sun Belt -- from participating in this season’s conference tournament, prompting Hunter to identify his program as “independent.”

"I told them we're an independent," Hunter told ESPN.com’s Andy Katz. "That's what we are now. It's no fault of theirs. We made a move for football. And we're paying the consequences. The bad part is that this is the only league in the country where this is happening. From this point forward, we're an independent basketball team."

But Hunter’s summer has also included preparations for a trip to South Africa, where he will deliver shoes to needy children. Hunter’s highly publicized connection to Samaritan’s Feet -- an organization that’s donated more than 1 million shoes to impoverished children in 50 different countries -- has led to multiple international humanitarian treks. He coaches one game barefoot every year -- an effort that’s been embraced and emulated by other coaches around the country -- to raise awareness and generate support.

Now, his program will participate in the experience.

Next week, Hunter will take Georgia State’s staff and players with him to South Africa. They’re scheduled to leave July 31 and return Aug. 9.

I talked to Hunter earlier this summer, and he was clearly amped for the South Africa trip. He told me that his ultimate goal was to donate 250,000 shoes to children.

Per the school’s release:
"I feel very blessed and humbled to be working with an organization like Samaritan's Feet," commented Hunter. "To be able to bring my staff and equally important my players will make it a unique trip for all involved.

"Going to South Africa will allow us to distribute a great number of shoes in a part of the world where foot disease runs rampant. Hopefully we can do our part to bring hope to those who are not nearly as fortunate as we are.

"To be able to wash a child's feet, give them a pair of socks and put on their first pair of shoes gives me a feeling inside that I cannot describe. The smile on the face of each child we help is priceless and is worth more to me than anything I could ever accomplish on the basketball court."

Hunter, like the rest of his coaching colleagues, deals with the ongoing demands of the college basketball offseason. But he hasn’t wavered in his commitment to Samaritan’s Feet, an organization he began to support in 2008.
On Tuesday, Colonial Athletic Association commissioner Tom Yeager delivered the bad news. The CAA's members had organized a pow-wow, held a vote, and reached a decision about the championship eligibility of the schools (Old Dominion and Georgia State, specifically) leaving the conference this season.

In the end, as Yeager announced, the vote merely reaffirmed the league's bylaws, which state that "upon notice of an institution’s intent to withdraw, the institution’s teams become ineligible on a date determined by the remaining members to compete for Association team championships." In other words, ODU and Georgia State will be frozen out of conference tournament play this season. They can still go to the NCAA tournament and other postseason events, but if they do, that participation will be invite-only -- a long shot for either of the schools involved.

Needless to say, Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor and Georgia State coach Ron Hunter were not thrilled with the decision. They shared their mutual displeasure with Andy Katz Wednesday morning:
Georgia State coach Ron Hunter gathered his team together Tuesday and told his players that they are essentially on their own next season.

"I told them we're an independent," Hunter said. "That's what we are now. It's no fault of theirs. We made a move for football. And we're paying the consequences. The bad part is that this is the only league in the country where this is happening. From this point forward, we're an independent basketball team."

ODU coach Blaine Taylor was just as irked as Hunter.

"They gave a 3-week-old weather report," Taylor said. "The league grandstanded so long to make a such a big announcement. We knew three weeks ago at the league meetings. They tried to look for every additional thing they could do. But the lack of collegial approach was eye-opening to me." [...]

"The CAA doesn't offer it," Taylor said. "It just seems very narrow-minded. They're hurting 17 sports. If you want to leave this league, you better do it like the Baltimore Colts in the middle of the night. Most of the leagues make everything seamless as possible. The CAA is a completely different act."

See? Not thrilled. Not thrilled at all.

Hunter and Taylor have a point, one our own Dana O'Neil made in late May, when the same issue precipitated VCU's quicker-than-anticipated jump to the Atlantic 10. The recipients of the real harm by this decision are the student-athletes, who are being punished for little more than bad timing. In particular, the seniors on both teams -- for whom the 2012-13 season would be a last chance at a conference title and NCAA tournament berth -- must feel especially bad. They did nothing wrong. They have no part in their school's decision. And yet they essentially lose a season to between-conference limbo, and why? So the CAA can try to close ranks and prevent itself from a future realignment raid. It's entirely unfair.

But who is really to blame? The CAA? Or the schools that chose to leave the conference in the first place? CAA Hoops -- the go-to blog for daily in-depth Colonial analysis -- sees things differently:
But as we’ve maintained from the start, the blood is on the hands of the Old Dominion and Georgia State administrators. They knew the rule going into their discussions about moving to a new conference. This was certainly a part of their internal discussions. They chose to move forward anyway with this risk known. [...]

This wasn’t a rule passed at a point in time that ODU and GSU could plausibly say was after they began looking for a new home. It predates Georgia State’s entry into the conference.

We’ve had 11 seasons that this could’ve been addressed, if it was indeed a big deal. There’s also something to be said for consistency. The CAA has driven right down Main Street with its decisions. Nobody can complain of any unfair treatment.

It should be noted the Colonial isn't gaining much from this decision; without Georgia State and ODU (and Towson and UNC-Wilmington, who will miss out thanks to poor APR scores), the league will field just seven teams in its 2013 conference tournament.

Really, the decision is about enforcement -- about where to draw the line when your league's future may be at stake. At the end of the day, the Colonial is more a victim of realignment than a victor. Faced with the trickle-down economics of conference realignment, when attractive schools are greedily gobbled by leagues higher and higher up the food chain, the CAA is merely trying to create some sort of defensive structure -- a moat around its castle, so to speak. You can hardly fault them for that, no more than you can for enforcing a decade-old rule.

You can understand the CAA's prerogative while still feeling that the student-athletes involved are getting a bum deal. This is realignment, and all that comes with it. The worst part: I can't think of a good solution. Can you?
1. The Colonial Athletic Association will announce Tuesday if it has reversed course and allowed departing members Old Dominion (C-USA) and Georgia State (Sun Belt) to compete in the 2013 conference tournament, according to the league office. The CAA deliberated on the issue last week. The CAA is down to seven eligible members for its tournament at this juncture, with Towson and UNC Wilmington barred by the NCAA for poor APR scores. The CAA has a bylaw that prevents a school from competing in a championship if it is departing. That’s why VCU left abruptly for the A-10 instead of waiting a year.

2. The CAA is also looking at options for moving the conference tournament out of Richmond now that VCU has split. The deal with Richmond goes through 2014. C-USA decided to pull its conference tournament out of Memphis because the Tigers are leaving for the Big East. C-USA moved its tournament to Tulsa for 2013. The CAA is now investigating the feasibility of putting its 2013 tournament at the famed Palestra in Philadelphia, which would be a major coup for league contender Drexel. Drexel’s campus is a block or two away from Penn’s Palestra homecourt. Baltimore and Atlantic City are also being discussed as potential future CAA tourney homes. A decision is due soon.

3. The new rule that allows college coaches to work with players if they’re in summer school has been met with rave reviews so far. A number of coaches began the individual sessions last week and it has continued this week as summer school begins in earnest on college campuses. “I like it due to the fact that you get to see the guys,’’ said Ohio State coach Thad Matta. College coaches have long wanted to work out their own players in the summer and for good reason. A number of them have found refuge working out with agent-sponsored trainers since there was never an option to stay put on campus with their own college coach.
We have been told for nearly a year now that university presidents and chancellors, conference commissioners and athletic directors are altruistic do-gooders and that their every decision is for the "betterment of the student-athlete."

Asking a cross-country team to, in fact, travel cross country for a meet? Replacing old rivalry games with contrived ones?

Like liver and broccoli, it’s all for the student-athletes’ own good.

Yet here we are, on another day of the conference carousel, with Old Dominion announcing it is leaving the Colonial Athletic Association for Conference USA -- and the welfare of student-athletes is being ignored.

CAA bylaws state that "upon notice of an institution’s intent to withdraw, the institution’s teams become ineligible on a date determined by the remaining members to compete for Association team championships."

Or in elementary school parlance: If you don’t want to play with me, than I don’t want to play with you, either.

The rationale is that a departing team shouldn’t take away a title opportunity from a team committed to the conference for the future.

Look, there is no denying that the CAA is more victim than villain in all of this. The CAA has been picked over like a dead animal on the side of the road, with Conference USA, the Sun Belt and the Atlantic 10 hovering over the carcass taking the meatier parts -- Old Dominion to C-USA, Georgia State to the Sun Belt, and VCU to the A-10.

But should the league enforce its petty bylaw and deny both ODU and Georgia State a chance to compete (a two-thirds vote in favor from remaining members is needed to overturn it), it will manage to trump its pickpocketing brethren in disloyalty.

Forget how foolish, childish and vindictive the league looks and sounds. Concentrate instead on the simple fact that instead of punishing the grownups who’ve made these decisions, the CAA is penalizing the athletes who have about as much say in conference realignment as my golden retriever has in my finances.

This is not their fault. This is not even their fight. They are having all sorts of things done to them for "their own good" and given the voice of Marcel Marceau.

You want to stick it to a school in the wallet and charge an exit fee? Feel free.

You want to require, like the Big East does, a timeframe to withdrawal without penalty? Go for it.

But absolutely nothing is gained by denying athletes a reason to compete and a chance to win a championship.

They have done nothing wrong and they certainly shouldn’t be asked to pay the only real penalty.

It is not just petty and vindictive. It’s mean-spirited and cruel.

ODU coach Blaine Taylor told Andy Katz that he hopes "cooler heads would prevail," but that certainly doesn’t sound likely. CAA commissioner Tom Yeager said overriding it required a "pretty steep standard," and likened the rule to a company parting ways early with an employee who has given notice.

He also pointed out that Old Dominion administrators were in the room when the bylaw was adopted 12 years ago and made their decision to leave fully aware of the possible repercussions.

“They knew the consequences that applied to their student athletes and still made the decision,’’ he said. “I’ve got 4,000 other student-athletes in this thing and their decision was made with full knowledge of what the consequence was and still made the decision.

“One of the hardest things,’’ he said, “was looking those student-athletes in the eyes and telling them because of their institution’s decisions, they were "ineligible."

And while that is technically fair and reasoned thinking, it doesn’t preclude the conference from simply doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing.

Yes, that’s an outlandish form of thinking in this day and age, when no one is thinking of anything but themselves but if you’re going to dare to be different why not dare to be different for the betterment of the student-athlete?
1. The Colonial Athletic Association will meet June 1-2 in Hilton Head, S.C., and the site of the 2013 tournament is expected to be a hot topic. Drexel coach Bruiser Flint said he could see the tournament moving to Baltimore, out of Virginia Commonwealth's home base in Richmond. The problem is that a school like Towson would have to support the event. The CAA is going to have an odd year in 2013 now that VCU is gone to the Atlantic 10, Georgia State is ineligible to play in the tourney since it’s leaving for the Sun Belt and Towson and UNC-Wilmington aren’t eligible due to poor APR scores. That leaves eight schools available for the tourney. The elite of Drexel, Old Dominion and George Mason (as well as possibly Northeastern) should all be near the top of the league.

2. The A-10 will find out that a school like VCU has the size and strength to bump the league up a perceived level immediately. The Rams will be an instant competitor for the A-10 title in year one. Don’t be surprised to see VCU and Butler in the thick of the race for the championship in 2014, too. One of the big winners is the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The A-10 made the prudent move to Brooklyn instead of Atlantic City. Having a tournament with Xavier, VCU and Butler as the headline teams will be a draw. If Saint Joseph’s, UMass, Dayton and others in the area can be factors, the buzz for the event will only increase.

3. Murray State coach Steve Prohm is deciding about which tournament the coveted Racers will play in next season. He’s going back and forth on whether to be in the NIT Season Tip-Off pod at Kansas State (the other three hosts are Virginia, Pitt and Michigan) or become the eighth team at the Charleston (S.C.) Classic. The seven teams signed up for the Nov. 15-18 event are: Baylor, Boston College, Charleston, Colorado, Dayton, St. John’s and Southern Illinois. It’s a tough call for Prohm. He could gamble and go to Manhattan, Kan., to try to get to New York or go to Charleston, where he’s likely to get at least two games against possible NCAA teams.
Towson ties losing streak record

With a 60-27 defeat at the hands of Drexel, Towson tied a record with its 34th straight loss, a streak that began on Jan. 3, 2011. That matches the longest losing streak in Division I history, also done by Sacramento State from 1997 to 1999. NJIT lost 51 straight from 2007 to 2009, but was reclassifying to Division I at the time.

On Wednesday, Towson suffered arguably its most humiliating loss of the current streak. The Tigers’ 27 points were their fewest since moving to Division I in 1979. It also set a CAA record for fewest points in a conference game. In addition, Towson hit only eight field goals, with only one player, Robert Nwankwo, making more than one.

Hoyas climb back against Marquette
Georgetown only missed one 2-point field goal in the second half in its 73-70 comeback win against Marquette. The Hoyas shot 76.2 percent in the second half, including 12-for-13 from inside the arc.

Marquette led by 17 points with 13 minutes to play, but the Hoyas went on a 27-10 run over the next 10 minutes. The final score would be Georgetown’s largest lead of the game. Jason Clark had 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second half. The Hoyas have a D-I best four wins over ranked opponents.

Jayhawks conquer the boards
Kansas owned the boards in its 67-49 win against Kansas State. The Jayhawks held a 50-26 advantage on the glass, including 44-15 when looking at just the starting lineups. It matched a 2002 contest against Oklahoma for the most the Wildcats have been outrebounded in the past 15 years.

Of course, a big reason was Kansas State’s poor shooting. The Wildcats hit on 31.6 percent from the field, their lowest in three seasons. The Jayhawks have now held the rebounding advantage in all but one game this season.

Syracuse bench makes the difference

Syracuse’s 87-73 win against Providence can best be understood through the lens of bench performance. The Orange average 37.3 points per game off the bench, tops in nation. So they technically underperformed Wednesday with 35 bench points.

Both Dion Waiters (13) and C.J. Fair (12) were in double figures off the bench. Meanwhile, Providence used only six players all game. Brice Kofane was the long player to come off the bench, and he scored just one point.

VCU loses ugly
It wasn’t quite on the level of Towson’s anemic offense, but VCU also had an ugly offensive performance in the CAA on Wednesday. The Rams shot just 27.1 percent in a 55-53 home loss to Georgia State. It marked their worst shooting night since Dec. 1999.

Worse yet, VCU’s starters shot just 16.3 percent (7-for-43) from the field, including 1-for-14 from beyond the arc. Rob Brandenberg and Bradford Burgess combined to go 1-for-25 from the field.

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