Dick VitaleSPECIAL TO ESPN.COM
May 12, 2006
Each Friday I will write about the sport I love, college basketball
I have said for years that there are certain rivalries that should be played every year, the way Louisville and Kentucky square off. I feel match-ups like Maryland vs. Georgetown, Notre Dame vs. Purdue, DePaul vs. Illinois, Ohio State vs. Cincinnati make sense. Those would add so much enthusiasm and energy to the sport I love.
For the first time since meeting in the 1962 national championship, the Buckeyes and Bearcats will face off, in the Wooden Tradition in Indianapolis. That's just part of Mick Cronin's tough non-league schedule in his first season coaching Cincinnati. The Bearcats will face NC State, UAB, Ohio University and crosstown rival Xavier.
Speaking of Xavier, the Musketeers will face Kansas State on January 3rd. That will mark the return of Bob Huggins to the Cincinnati area. That should be a very intense game. It is great that Xavier said "come home, Bobby Huggins"! Why didn't Cincinnati schedule a game with its former coach? Imagine a trip to face Cincinnati and Xavier in a short span, now that would have been exciting.
In recruiting, the rich get richer as the crème de la crème gets better and better. Duke rounded out an outstanding recruiting class by adding 6-8 McDonald's All-America Lance Thomas out of St. Benedict's in New Jersey. Thomas played for Danny Hurley, the brother of former Blue Devils star Bobby Hurley. Among the other schools he considered were Florida, Louisville and Rutgers. Thomas joins a class that includes Gerald Henderson, Jon Scheyer and Brian Zoubek. It is a great addition on the baseline as he will become a star in that Duke uniform.
What about Kansas adding Darrell Arthur, a 6-9 McDonald's All-America! Talk about getting better and better. Everyone was wild about this kid, including Indiana, LSU and Baylor. In the end, he decided to join Bill Self and rock, chalk, Jayhawk, where he will improve and work hard under the tireless Self.
The NCAA basketball rules committee is considering a change that would eliminate the rule allowing players to call time-out while airborne or falling out of bounds. That's fantastic and it is about time we get rid of that rule. The decision will be made later this month at a rules meeting. My question is, when will reality set in and we change the possession arrow rule? It is a joke and a farce because when you have a jump ball, why do we penalize defense? I can't believe bright, intelligent people who understand the game can't comprehend how that sets the game back.
Out at Colorado, how do you expect coach Ricardo Patton to recruit for the future? Forget about this year as Patton has just one year remaining on his contract and the school did not offer an extension as of now. What a way to operate! Could this be like the situation at Seton Hall last year with Louis Orr left twisting in the wind?
Congratulations to Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar, who was picked to coach the USA's under 18 team that will play in San Antonio from June 28-July 2. The FIBA event begins on June 28th with the US facing Uruguay. Romar's assistants on that team will be Georgia Tech head coach Paul Hewitt and DePaul head coach Jerry Wainwright.
Wow, we could see a match-up of coaches with NCAA championship rings at the Jimmy V. Classic. Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcats and Rick Pitino's Louisville Cardinals are discussing a potential showdown at Madison Square Garden. Also scheduled for Madison Square Garden is a battle between Duke and Gonzaga on December 21. It's a shame that didn't happen last year with Adam Morrison vs. J. J. Redick.
The Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands has a solid field next season. Among those competing are Villanova, Alabama, Iowa, Xavier, College of Charleston, Toledo, Middle Tennessee State and Virginia Commonwealth.
Memphis added a big body with Iowa State transfer Shawn Taggart joining John Calipari's program. The 6-10 Taggart was unhappy with Wayne Morgan's departure.
What about Louie McCroskey deciding to leave Syracuse? What that a shock? Absolutely not; he had become a problem in the Orange locker room and had an explosion there last season. Then he stepped away for a couple of days before returning to the squad. Sometimes it is addition by subtraction for everyone involved. Maybe the change of environment will help McCroskey develop. He came in with a big-time reputation out of St. Raymond's in New York, a school that also produced the likes of Julius Hodge.
It's May, and I can't wait for the 2006-07 season. Can't we tip it off tomorrow, baby!
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in 1979. Send a question for Vitale for possible use on ESPNEWS.