College Basketball Nation: President Obama
John was also a former Division I walk-on basketball player, according to the story.
He'd always been persistent. In college, he walked on to a Division I basketball team and hustled his way into a rotation full of scholarship players.
The CIA offered to promote him and move him somewhere else. John wanted to keep the bin Laden file.
The New York Observer reported Tuesday that it too has discovered John's identity and added these details on his basketball past.
A few web searches turned up details of the man’s personal life. In college, he'd played basketball. No superstar by any means -- he was mostly a practice player -- he'd been aggressive enough to catch the eye of the team's coach, who later spoke glowingly of John's unusual shooting style.
Senior counterintelligence figures who have worked closely with him describe an extraordinarily modest man, soft-spoken and eager to remain clear of any limelight, the kind of guy who’s at his desk by 6 a.m. and whose primary hobbies are coaching his kids’ various sports teams and shooting hoops with the other men at his local parish -- though he has yet to play with the president.
Those close to him were hard-pressed to come up with quirks or personal details. However, they all said he's an effective manager, if his style is a little hokey at times. He offers up the same platitude to the kids he coaches that he employs with the analysts who work under him: "There’s no 'I' in team."
The Associated Press agreed to the CIA's request not to publish John's full name because he could face retribution, but some details in the story might have been too revealing. His photo might have already been uncovered due to his reported presence in the Situation Room, and the New York Observer was apparently able to learn his identity afterward and able to speak with sources close to John in exchange for not publishing his full name.
The attention isn't good news for John since according to the Washington Post, he has now been placed under cover by the CIA.
A U.S. official said that the decision was driven by information about possible efforts by al-Qaeda to seek revenge for the U.S. raid that ended with the death of bin Laden at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in May.
"We know from very recent intelligence that al-Qaeda is interested in finding U.S. counterterrorism officials tied to the CIA's aggressive counterterrorism operations," a U.S. official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence matters. "Surely the vast majority of Americans understand why this individual needs to be protected."
John helped take down bin Laden, and now terrorists could be after him. The New York Observer even reported that "John's heart sank" after the AP story hit the wires. So for anyone in the college basketball community who knows a guy with a funky jump shot whose middle name is John and hasn't been returning calls lately, think good thoughts.
The BET appearance had sophomore guard Jared Cunningham amused and snapping a photo of his television screen. It also provided this bit of unintentional comedy: On The Mo'Nique Show's Facebook page, it was accidentally promoted that actor Craig Robinson of Hot Tub Time Machine, Pineapple Express, Knocked Up, and Zack and Miri fame would be appearing on the show.
Back to basketball, Robinson is approaching what is shaping up to be a very important year. After three seasons, he hasn't yet led the Beavers to a winning record. His best finish was winning the CBI in his first year to finish .500, and this season was a disappointment for the Beavers.
They managed to knock off eventual Pac-10 champion Arizona in the opening weekend, with Cunningham coming through with one of college basketball's best dunks of the season. Still, the team slumped to a ninth-place finish in the league and finished with an 11-20 record.
Cunningham had a breakout season, yet a youthful roster struggled to jell because as he told the Arizona Republic, "Last year, some of it was just chemistry. We had a lot of different rotations, and we just weren't used to each other. Now we're a close group."
This coming season, the team will consist of all players that Robinson has recruited himself, including Ahmad Starks, Roberto Nelson and Devon Collier -- rotation members who earned significant minutes in their first year of action.
According to Inc. Magazine, Robinson is optimistic.
I'm pretty honest in evaluating myself. As long as I can point to where the issues are and they are correctible, I don't get too down on the team or myself. When you're rebuilding a program, it’s not something that's going to happen in one or two years.
When I reevaluate at the end of the year, I ask if we’re headed in the right direction. If I'm comfortable with that and we keep doing the fundamental things correctly, we'll get there.
WRTV has video of Obama and Stevens -- still wearing glasses -- having a conversation alongside Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.
"Yeah, they're old friends by now," the WRTV analyst remarked. "Brad Stevens travels in some pretty good circles when you consider the president is someone whom you've spoken to on several occasions."
Obama was among those who got caught up in the Butler story as the Bulldogs last season made their run to the national championship game against Duke. Even after Butler was defeated, Obama called Stevens and congratulated his team.
Stevens was able to take time to greet Obama at the airport after hiring a new assistant coach.
Loyola announced Thursday that Michael Lewis had resigned the assistant coaching job he had accepted less than three weeks earlier in order to join Stevens.
Stevens was able to hire away Lewis, who fills the position that opened up after Micah Shrewsberry left for Purdue.
The event took place at the house of Drake athletic director Sandy Hatfield Clubb, and according to the Des Moines Register, coach Mark Phelps and two of his players got the opportunity to speak with the President personally.
"I came over and introduced myself and he then asked what I did and I told him I was the basketball coach," Phelps said. "And he said, "That's what I thought. I've heard some things about your team -- I've heard you've got some outstanding recruiting classes coming in. Your boss (Clubb) has been talking about you.'"
Yes, President Obama is knowledgeable about how recruiting is going for the Missouri Valley Conference school. And there's good reason for this year's class getting the seal of approval.
Rayvonte Rice, ESPNU's No. 89-ranked small forward, was the runner-up for Mr. Basketball in Obama's home state of Illinois.
Phelps' freshman class also includes No. 42-ranked point guard Karl Madison and No. 52-ranked small forward Jeremy Jeffers. Kraidon Woods, a 6-foot-8 forward, is able to play immediately after transferring from Binghamton.
So things are looking up for Drake coming off a 14-19 season. They're even on Obama's radar.
That's just one of the many perks of being brother to the first lady, who along with President Obama are honorary chairs for the event.
But it's away from the Washington scene where Robinson is spreading his own message of hope, as far as the traditionally non-threatening Beavers are concerned.
During a speaking engagement last week near Salem, Ore., The Statesman Journal quoted him as saying, "I'm hoping in two, three years that we're competing at the top of the league on a regular basis."
The road map for Pac-10 respectability seems to have been laid out after Robinson got an early look in workouts at his recruiting class -- one that for the second consecutive year looks very impressive.
Ahmad Starks could make an immediate impact as a true point guard after being recruited out of Robinson's hometown of Chicago. The Beavers got even more athletic by bringing in 6-foot-8 power forward Devon Collier from the Bronx and 6-9 UTEP transfer Eric Moreland, who is eligible to play immediately.
The addition of 6-11 post player Chris Brown not only gave Robinson more height to work with, but also a way for the member of the First Family to stay on message at that United Way event last week.
"Now it looks like we're a real team when we walk around the airport," Robinson joked. "Before I was always asked if I coached the soccer team."
Hope abounds, as a young Beavers squad coming off a 14-18 season is at least a lot more imposing that it once was.
And here's a Duke press release announcing that Singler underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee today while indicating how the Final Four MVP's rigorous offseason might have contributed to the issue.
"Kyle had some discomfort in his knee following a very busy summer so we elected to go in and clean it up prior to the start of the season," Duke associate head coach Steve Wojciechowski said in a statement. "By all accounts, today's surgery was a success and Kyle will be back at full strength before the start of practice."
The surgery appears to be minor, but it's apparent that Singler's workload over the summer took its toll. Among his activities:
" Camper: Besides the Chris Paul camp, Singler also attended the Deron Williams Skills Academy, the Kevin Durant Camp, and the LeBron James Skills Academy in order to fine-tune his game and play in pickup games with pros and other college stars.
" Practice player: Singler also tested himself against pros as part of a contingent of college players selected to go attend a training camp in Las Vegas designed to prepare Team USA for the world championship.
"Being around the pros has been really good to see what they go through to prepare for competition," Singler said in July. "Being exposed to the whole lifestyle and the amount of attention these guys get is a great learning experience."
" Shuttle driver: During his off time, Singler spent five days driving around participants in a shuttle van for the K Academy, coach Mike Krzyzewski's fantasy camp. One of the campers even had Singler driving the van into a small ditch.
Mix in a visit to the White House to celebrate the NCAA title with President Obama, a trip to Los Angeles to collect an ESPY award, and time spent at home in Oregon hosting his youth basketball tournament, and it's been an eventful offseason for Singler.
Oh, and he found time to join Twitter.
Now it's time to rest and recover for what's sure to be a pressure-packed season defending the national title.
The paper reported that news of the Calipari cocktail reception drew criticism from its readers for the coach taking a political stance and that he also received a negative reaction in September for writing on his Facebook page that he intended to send a Kentucky jersey to President Obama.
It was via Facebook that Calipari gave this statement last night:
I hope by now you all realize that I don't take my position as your basketball coach lightly. I know how politically charged this state is and I recognize that the Big Blue Nation comes from both sides of the aisle. I appreciate every elected official who supports the University of Kentucky, regardless of party.The Courier-Journal notes that while no Republican has yet to file to run against Beshear, among his potential challengers is former Kentucky player Richie Farmer.
That said the Governor's event planned for August 11 -- along with other charitable functions scheduled for our home -- have been canceled after realizing the full plate of both professional and pressing, personal matters I will be tending to in the next couple of months. Ellen and I do hope this discussion will lead you to exercise your right to vote in the upcoming elections.
Also, the school has a history of its basketball coaches getting involved in politics. Rick Pitino appeared on campus with Bill Clinton on the eve of the 1996 election, and Republican senator Jim Bunning later wrote an angry letter to Pitino saying he would no longer be a Kentucky fan.
Of course, Bunning ultimately couldn't stop following the Wildcats. In February, he complained of having to miss the Kentucky-South Carolina game in order to block an unemployment bill.
A study that researchers reported today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a team's NCAA tournament success can lead to increased approval of Obama's job performance in the minds of fans of that team.
In a study led by economists from Loyola Marymount and Stanford, researchers wanted to find out whether or not events irrelevant to government performance can effect evaluations of that incumbent's performance and also voting behavior.
Apparently, they do.
Researchers polled 3,040 residents of regions with teams that made it to the Sweet 16 of the 2009 NCAA tournament. After the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight concluded, the fans were asked if they approved or disapproved of the way Obama was handling his job.
The study found that the relative success of a fan's team in the tournament had a positive effect on the approval rating given to Obama. And the percentage point increase was greater for fans who considered themselves strong supporters of their teams and closely followed the tournament.
The study also found that the effect mood has on making political evaluations of the incumbent appears to be subconscious. This is because half the respondents were reminded of the outcomes of the games before answering the Obama question. Fans who were more conscious of why they were in good moods seemed to be able to set that aside, with the effect of college basketball results on their judgments of Obama being measured at basically zero.
The conclusions of the study seem understandable. After all, when your team is doing well, isn't there a sense that all seems right in the world?
Obama spoke to Stevens and the Bulldogs by speakerphone earlier today, and Stevens will appear on Letterman tonight via satellite. In the preview video, the Indianapolis native Letterman jokes tries unsuccessfully to get Stevens to break from his nice-guy character.
"You have nothing to be ashamed about," he told Stevens. "You took it to those goons."
According to the Associated Press:
Letterman finished the interview by joking about Stevens' baby-faced look: "OK. Well, my best to your team, to the University and to your family. Go get yourself some chocolate milk, coach."
Here's the video of Jon Stewart's take on Obama and how those presidential Final Four picks didn't quite pan out like the rest of his week did.
"I see we found your kryptonite," Stewart jokes. "Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky and Villanova?"
According to Time:
That was followed by a tour of a mess hall, where the President worked the room as Michigan State played Tennessee on the television screens hung around the walls. (Before Obama entered, White House aides had the channel changed on the television, from a motocross event to the NCAA tournament.)
The hoops junkie Obama briefly took in some of the action even with the Obama bracket being busted. The commander-in-chief had predicted a Kansas-Georgetown game in the Elite Eight.
In fact, there were 6,776 brackets that managed to go 0-for-16.
The percentage of brackets that picked each team to reach the Sweet 16 (and the percentage to win it all):
- Kentucky: 92.8% (21.4)
- West Virginia: 92.7% (4.7)
- Syracuse: 92.1% (10.3)
- Kansas State: 86.5% (1.7)
- Ohio State: 85.2% (3.9)
- Duke: 84.7% (6.4)
- Baylor: 69.8% (0.5)
- Michigan State: 51.5% (0.6)
- Butler: 39.6% (0.1)
- Purdue: 33.1% (0.15)
- Xavier: 30.0% (0.06)
- Tennessee: 19.8% (0.3)
- Cornell: 11.3% (0.04)
- Washington: 8.8% (0.1)
- St. Mary’s: 3.7% (0.02)
- Northern Iowa: 0.9% (0.03)
Kansas was selected most often as the champion (42.7%).
The most-commonly selected national championship matchups that are still possible:
- Kentucky vs. Syracuse: 420,811 brackets (8.8%)
- West Virginia vs. Syracuse: 166,593 brackets (3.5%)
- Kentucky vs. Ohio State: 153,289 brackets (3.2%)
- Duke vs. Syracuse: 115,649 brackets (2.4%)
President Obama is in the 92nd percentile with a rank of 341,262. However, with only five of his Elite Eight choices remaining, the president is likely to fall off in the coming rounds.
Other notables brackets:
Scott Van Pelt
Only 17,726 brackets (0.4%) correctly selected the Michigan State/Northern Iowa Sweet 16 matchup.
Kansas appeared as the champion on almost twice as many brackets as the second-highest team, Kentucky.
Most times selected as champion:
- Kansas: 2,017,360 (42.2%)
- Kentucky: 1,022,627 (21.4%)
- Syracuse: 490,828 (10.3%)
- Duke: 304,924 (6.4%)
- West Virginia: 224,417 (4.7%)
- Ohio State: 187,879 (4.0%)
The most commonly selected championship game matchup was Kansas vs. Kentucky at 1.36 million brackets (28%).
The most-commonly chosen matchups that could still occur are:
- Kentucky vs. Syracuse: 420,811 brackets (8.8%)
- West Virginia vs. Syracuse: 166,593 brackets (3.5%)
- Kentucky vs. Ohio State: 153,289 brackets (3.2%)
- Duke vs. Syracuse: 115,649 brackets (2.4%)
- 1,001,382 brackets (21%) have Xavier in the Sweet 16
- 537,924 brackets (11.3%) have Cornell in the Sweet 16
- 324,525 brackets (6.8%) have Georgia Tech in the Sweet 16
- 273,251 brackets (5.7%) have Gonzaga in the Sweet 16
- 149,882 brackets (3.1%) have Missouri in the Sweet 16
- 105,262 brackets (2.2%) have California in the Sweet 16
- Exactly 60 brackets have Northern Iowa and St. Mary’s meeting in the championship game, with 36 of those picking Northern Iowa.
- Exactly 41 brackets have Northern Iowa and Washington meeting in the championship game, with 21 of those picking Northern Iowa.
President Obama is still in the top 216,000 (95.5 percentile) but has lost two of his Final 4 teams (Kansas and Nova).
Sebelius gave Obama "a lot of grief" for picking the North Carolina Tar Heels to win the men’s national basketball championship in 2009.
"The biggest thing for me was when President Obama said he felt sorry for us," guard Lewis Jackson said.
With all due respect to the First Bracketologist, the No. 4 seed Boilermakers don't want pity.
It wasn't just the president, either. The Boilermakers were perfectly aware that they were a fashionable pick to go down in the first round, in large part because star Robbie Hummel went down with a season-ending knee injury late in the season.
"You can't help but see it," guard Keaton Grant said. "You've got analysts picking against you. You've got the president picking against you. We were very aware. It was just more motivation."
So, after Purdue beat Siena 72-64 Friday, yes, there was a bit of vindication.
Purdue, now 28-5, used a 20-3 run to start the second half to take control, then the Boilermakers withstood a late Saints rally to hold on and advance to the second round for a 12th consecutive time, a streak that leads the nation.
"We said the first five minutes [after halftime] was going to dictate the game," coach Matt Painter said.
Purdue hit just one of its first 10 3-pointers, but used four during their run to leave Siena gasping.
But the run wasn't about offense.
"It was on the defensive end, us just pressuring them," Jackson said.
Siena's leading scorer Alex Franklin scored 10 points in the first half, winning his battle with Chris Kramer, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The result was reversed in the second half, as the Kramer and other Boilermakers put more pressure on Franklin on the perimeter.
Franklin was shut out in the second half, taking only two shots.
With Hummel, Purdue might have earned a No. 1 seed. But even without him the Boilermakers aren't too shabby.
"You can't feel sorry for yourself," Painter said.