College Basketball Nation: Old Dominion Monarchs

3-point shot: Tough blow for Texas

August, 21, 2013
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1. The easy thing to do is pile on Texas and coach Rick Barnes for Ioannis Papapetrou's decision to sign with Olympiacos BC, a professional team in his native Greece. This departure is completely different than the decisions made by Jaylen Bond, Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan. Papapetrou got a multi-year, multi-million-dollar deal. He was already in Greece, ripe to be convinced to stay. From all accounts, Papapetrou was happy with his situation in Austin -- and the Longhorns loved having him. This was not a planned departure, nor one that was pushed by the Texas staff. And that's why it stings more than the traditional transfers or Myck Kabongo's decision to leave early for the NBA draft. Texas needed a player who could produce, was experienced and wanted to be there. Losing someone like Papapetrou -- the top returning scorer once those players above bolted -- in late August is a crushing blow because he cannot be replaced. This puts even more pressure on returnees Javan Felix, Jonathan Holmes and Demarcus Holland to not only lead, but also to score and defend at a higher clip to avoid a second consecutive losing season.

2. Baylor senior guard Brady Heslip made the 14-man Canadian national team that will compete in the Continental Cup in Puerto Rico as a precursor to the FIBA Americas tournament in Venezuela. Heslip was the only collegian who made the team. Contacted late Tuesday, Heslip was obviously thrilled. So, too, was Baylor coach Scott Drew. If Heslip returns from these tournaments as a stronger shooter, defender and all-around player, the Bears will benefit greatly. Baylor is/should be a top-three team in the Big 12, behind Kansas and Oklahoma State. The Bears have the bigs with Isaiah Austin and Cory Jefferson but are green at the point. If Heslip can produce and create an inside-outside threat again, Baylor will be a real contender.

3. The NCAA can't have it both ways on preseason scrimmages. If the NCAA wants these scrimmages to be played, but not seen or heard from by the media or the public, then they can't be deemed some sort of official competition. Yet Old Dominion's Donte Hill has been ruled ineligible for what would have been his final season because he played in a scrimmage before transferring from Clemson to ODU. He played as a freshman at Clemson and then the past two years at ODU, redshirting the season in between. Hill's appeal was denied. He should try again and again. And if he's rejected, then these scrimmages -- especially the ones between two schools that travel to a neutral site to play -- need to be viewed as real exhibition games with countable stats, media and an opportunity for fans to watch.
1. The NCAA's random date of April 16 to declare for the NBA draft isn't pressuring a number of players into making quick decisions. Coaches are now savvy to the date as being meaningless. That's why Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk may wait to decide until the NBA's own early-entry deadline of April 28. Olynyk is probably going to be the same player in the NBA whether he declares next season or this. He is a Wooden All-America and, if he were to return, would be one of the contenders for player of the year. Missouri's Phil Pressey is also weighing a similar decision over the next few weeks. A number of players haven't outlined their intentions but have plenty of time, like Miami's Shane Larkin, Kansas' Ben McLemore, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, Georgetown's Otto Porter, Ohio State's Deshaun Thomas, Syracuse's C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams, Louisville's Russ Smith as well as Indiana's Cody Zeller. Cal's Allen Crabbe joined the list of draftees earlier Wednesday. I fully expect Indiana's Victor Oladipo, Louisville's Gorgui Dieng, UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad and Michigan's Trey Burke to declare soon. No official word out of Connecticut, but the staff is anticipating -- at this point -- that guards Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright will return (smart move if it happens, since they don't have an NBA home to go to next season).

2. The Big Ten suddenly got incredibly younger with this week's two coaching hires -- Northwestern announcing Chris Collins and Minnesota tabbing Richard Pitino. The under-40 club will give the league a new look. The two take over programs that are striving for consistency, but both desperately need an upgrade in facilities to hang with the big boys. Collins and Pitino will need to use their youthful enthusiasm to build momentum since the dollars aren't in place for facilities they were used to -- Collins was at Duke and Pitino at Louisville and Florida before his stop at Florida International. Northwestern had been looking at Collins for quite some time. But Pitino was clearly a new name for Minnesota in the past week as athletic director Norwood Teague looked for an off-the-grid-type hire like he made at Virginia Commonwealth. Pitino got off to an impressive start in his coaching career at FIU with the upset of Middle Tennessee in the Sun Belt tournament and a chance to earn the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth. Now he'll face his toughest challenge of his career. He has a brand name in basketball, which carries weight, but will need to put together a strong staff to quickly earn the trust of his players this spring and summer. This can work at both places. Memphis, for example, has been a soaring success under Josh Pastner. Pastner led the Tigers to conference titles and NCAA tournament appearances as a young, vibrant assistant-turned-head-coach of a major program. Collins was a fit at Northwestern so there's no issue there. But give Pitino a chance to see if this could work.

3. Old Dominion looked like it was set to go to former Western Kentucky and Georgia coach Dennis Felton before the Monarchs and athletic director Wood Selig tabbed American's Jeff Jones. This hire came out of left field, but might end up being one of the better fits. Jones played and coached at Virginia and should be able to recruit well in the fertile Tidewater area. Jones had made American a consistent Patriot League contender, which isn't easy to do in a conference where Bucknell and Lehigh are the anchors. ODU knows who it is and wanted to gravitate toward a coach that made sense. This hire does.

3-point shot: A more mellow Frank Martin?

February, 21, 2013
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1. Frank Martin has weathered the storm of a six-game losing streak and a bit of a media meltdown in breaking down the ineptitude of the Gamecocks last week. Martin's demeanor during South Carolina's upset win over Ole Miss on Wednesday night in Columbia was reserved for him. He sat for most of the game. He didn't need to yell as the Gamecocks came up with defensive stops, blocked shots and forced Ole Miss into poor rushed possessions. This isn't necessarily a mellow Martin compared to his intense stare-downs and animated sideline behavior at Kansas State. But he clearly has seen this is a complete overhaul at South Carolina and has to show some patience as long as the effort is in place and the execution follows the instructions. This is exactly what occurred in the final five minutes against the Rebels. In spending the evening in Columbia, I got the sense that there is a real belief that Martin will turn the Gamecocks around. And he should. The SEC is probably the best conference right now for upward mobility because so many programs are struggling to find consistency.

2. If the ACC wants to take full advantage of adding Syracuse in 2013-14 then it should guarantee at least Duke or North Carolina once a season at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse has already announced a 35,012 crowd for Saturday's game against Georgetown. That will be the 17th time the Orange have had 30,000-plus for a Georgetown game, the most of any other opponent. Syracuse is losing Georgetown as a conference opponent after this season. Three of the top eight 30,000-plus crowds at the Carrier Dome are eventually going with Syracuse to the ACC in Pitt (7), Notre Dame (6) and Louisville (4). The 35,012 fans coming for Saturday's game against Georgetown is yet another reminder of the Big East breaking up and what the Northeast college basketball fan will be missing.

3. Old Dominion is expected to have an interest in former Georgia coach Dennis Felton as a potential prime candidate for the open head coaching position after athletic director Wood Selig fired Blaine Taylor. Felton worked for Selig at Western Kentucky. Felton worked five-plus seasons at Georgia before being fired in the middle of the SEC season in 2009. Felton coached the Bulldogs to an SEC tournament title, recruited well and got Georgia through a post-probationary period. ODU, which is currently led by interim coach Jim Corrigan, is going to end up being one of the best jobs in Conference USA when the Monarchs move next season. The Monarchs beat UNC Wilmington 84-61 Wednesday night for their only second win of the conference season and fourth overall.

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. Mike Marra’s season/career-ending ACL injury at Louisville won’t have a dramatic effect on the potential Final Four Cardinals. Injuries had prevented Marra from having a dominant impact on the team over the course of the past year. Marra could hit situational shots, but Louisville coach Rick Pitino said the Cardinals aren’t going to be a team defined by making 3s. Pitino said Sunday the Cards probably will only make six-to-seven a game (that’s still pretty good) with the best shooter on the squad in Luke Hancock. Kevin Ware and Peyton Siva have improved quite a bit, too. The Cardinals will miss Marra’s on-court enthusiasm but clearly they will survive his absence.

2. Expect Texas Tech to make a decision some time this week on whether acting interim coach Chris Walker gets to replace head coach Billy Gillispie for the season. A decision could come as early as Tuesday. Walker has kept a low profile and while there isn’t a gag order from the staff and players, the consensus is to keep things quiet while athletic director Kirby Hocutt decides whether to stay inside or go outside for a new coach to lead the Red Raiders during the 2012-13 season.

3. Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor isn’t seeing any effects of the pending move to Conference USA in 2013 on the recruiting trail. He’s not worried, though, considering the Monarchs tend to land who they will, regardless of conference affiliation. But what Taylor did do to combat the Colonial Athletic Association’s decision to uphold the bylaw and prevent ODU from playing in the conference tournament was to upgrade the non-conference schedule. The last three games the Monarchs added were VCU, Murray State and College of Charleston. “It’s a helluva of a challenge for one of my youngest teams," said Taylor. ODU would need all the help it can get to be in in position for an at-large bid without the benefit of the automatic qualification out of the CAA tourney.
1. An NFL-style lockout of officials can’t and won’t happen in college basketball. The officials are independent contractors and the consensus among the group is to keep the status quo. “It’s no different than if we paint your house, we get a 1099 from the IRS and we’re responsible for our own insurance, our own tax filings, deductions and receipts, including retirement,’’ said one high-profile official. “We have the flexibility.’’ Officials work in multiple conferences. They don’t have job security or a pension but they do have the freedom to hold day jobs, and the majority does. For the officials to be under one roof, the NCAA would have to hire them. If you paid 50 officials a salary of $100,000 with benefits, that’s $10 million -- but you’d still need to hire 350 more officials to cover the 5,000-plus games, according to an officiating head. Making officials employees would be too cost-ineffective. “The system is fine, as it is now,’’ said one officiating head.

2. Conference USA is discussing how to divide the league when it changes members and has 14 teams in 2013. The key question will be 16 or 18 league games and which teams will play each other twice every season. You can group a few natural rivals. The foursome of Charlotte-Marshall-Old Dominion-East Carolina will likely be together in some rivalry combination. UTEP and UT-San Antonio make sense as a pair. Tulsa and North Texas would be ideal, too. The interesting dilemma will whether the league pits small private schools Rice and Tulane against each other or pairs up intrastate Tulane and Louisiana Tech. The best chance for natural rivalries would be pitting Tulane against Rice and pairing Southern Miss against Louisiana Tech and Florida International against UAB, since those last two don’t really have any other school to pair up with based on the geography.

3. Former New Mexico State and Sacramento Kings coach Reggie Theus is on the verge of getting the job as head coach of the Los Angeles D-Fenders in the NBA Development League, replacing Eric Musselman, who left for an assistant’s job with Arizona State. The deal is done, according to a source, but Theus hasn't signed it yet; there is a tryout Saturday and Theus will be there. Theus has been anxious to get back into college basketball but hasn’t been able to get a quality sniff of late. Getting a head-coaching job, regardless of the level, is crucial for him to convince an athletic director and/or school president that he’s worthy of another shot.
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.
1. The Big East and SEC are expected to finalize the pairings for their challenge sometime in the next two weeks. Any speculation (as I did last week) on the pairings is now moot as the conferences try to figure out arena openings and home/road setup. The Big East coaches were told that the event will happen. Politicking has begun for some. Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin wants a marquee home game. The ACC-Big Ten Challenge has matched teams that are supposed to finish in similar positions; this event hasn’t been handled like that overall. Cincinnati played Georgia last season despite the Bearcats being an upper-division Big East team and Georgia picked for the lower level of the SEC. “I don’t know why we wouldn’t rank our teams, too," Cronin said. “I’m asking the league to get us a like opponent. If we’re being picked high then we want the same thing (from the SEC)."

2. Cronin is attempting to upgrade his schedule and has secured a top-25 home-and-home series, which isn’t easy in this era of schools looking for more neutral-site non-conference games. Cronin and New Mexico coach Steve Alford said they will play a home-and-home series next season, to start in Cincinnati. The Bearcats will visit the Pit the following season.

3. Murray State coach Steve Prohm said he has had discussions with Virginia Commonwealth about a home-and-home series but nothing is finalized. The Rams are searching for multiple games after losing Richmond and George Washington from the schedule now that they’re all in the Atlantic 10. VCU also needs two more games, since the A-10 plays 16 games and the CAA played 18. VCU coach Shaka Smart said many possibilities remain, but one certainty is that the Rams will continue the rivalry with Old Dominion, which will be off to Conference USA in 2013. Smart said the home-and-home series will start at ODU in 2012-13.

Video: Old Dominion moving to C-USA

May, 17, 2012
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Andy Katz on Old Dominion moving to Conference USA and the future of the Colonial Athletic Association.
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?
The most important week in recent Colonial Athletic Association history started out all right: Five days ago, George Mason announced it would turn down offers from other conferences and remain in its home league. That was good news for the CAA and commissioner Tom Yeager, who was struggling to hold together one of the nation's best emerging mid-major hoops leagues -- one that sent four teams to the NCAA tournament just two years ago -- amid rampant realignment rumors.

[+] EnlargeBlaine Taylor
Paul Abell/US PresswireBlaine Taylor has averaged 24 wins per season at Old Dominion in the past eight years.
The good news basically stopped there: On Tuesday, VCU announced it would leave the CAA to join the Atlantic 10, taking the flagship men's basketball program (a 2011 Final Four participant, no less) to play with Xavier and Butler and the rest. Now, per a report in the Hampton Roads Daily Press, the CAA is also going to lose the Old Dominion Monarchs, this time to Conference USA.

ODU took its time with the move. There was no rush to announce two weeks ago despite C-USA's seeming insistence to that effect. Instead, like any sought-after recruit, the school weighed its options, presented its case to its Board of Visitors and concluded that now was the time to take the next step in its athletics evolution.

An evolution will be required. Unlike VCU's home in the A-10, C-USA requires this little thing called football, so ODU's 3-year-old program will have to make the leap from the Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision, and to do so it will have to upgrade its scholarships and athletic facilities, including Foreman Field. The football stadium seats 19,818, making it among the smallest facilities in C-USA.

Hosting a mere 19,000 for your football games isn't necessarily a bad thing: According to this graphic from the Virginian-Pilot, the Monarchs will become one of the few teams in C-USA with the ability to boast full attendance at its football games. That's already a leg up on other recent C-USA additions Charlotte and Texas-San Antonio, both of which will attempt to jump-start relatively nonexistent football programs as they move to what will now be a 14-team league stretching from West Virginia to Texas to Florida.

What will it mean for basketball? It's hard to see many drawbacks. Conference USA is without question consistently deeper and tougher than the CAA (even in the CAA's best years), but without Big East-bound Memphis, there is no clear power in the league, and no reason ODU's success under Blaine Taylor (who has averaged 24.3 wins per season, and gone to four NCAA tournaments, since 2005) couldn't continue.

Surely, there will be adjustments. Taylor might have to tweak his recruiting somewhat. But much like Butler, the Monarchs have consistently proved (via the power of efficiency stats, which are helpfully adjusted across conferences) themselves worthy of playing in C-USA. In fact, without Memphis, the leap from the CAA to C-USA, as quantified by each league's total efficiency strength, is not nearly as wide as the leap Butler will make from the Horizon to the A-10. In 2012, Conference USA ranked No. 10 in the nation; the CAA ranked No. 13. And that's with Memphis. The highest-ranked non-Memphis C-USA team in 2012 was Southern Miss, at No. 75; in the past four seasons, ODU's average KenPom rank is 67.75. This is not an insurmountable challenge. In many ways, ODU is already ready.

That's why this is such an important and ultimately understandable move: The Monarchs get to try out this whole FBS football thing, and all the resources and trinkets it provides, without risking a major downturn on the basketball side, where ODU's mainstream athletics relevance lies. The Monarchs can compete and win and get to NCAA tournaments in C-USA, maybe even easier than they did in the CAA (at-large bids should at least be slightly easier to come by), and they can bring in more cash to do so.

Much as we'll lament the state of the plucky, upstart CAA -- and as bad a week as this was for Yeager -- it's hard to question the Monarchs' motives. Old Dominion took its time, weighed its options and found a new home, one that should pay dividends as early as its first season in 2013-14. No mystery here.
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.

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