June 2, 2006
Each Friday I will write about the sport I love, college basketball
There have been all kinds of reports that the NCAA tournament committee is considering expanding the field from 65 to 80 teams. To me, we have a perfect situation right now, a scenario where almost everybody gets a last chance to make the field through their conference tournament. I know the Ivy League doesn't have a postseason system in place. Teams get a chance for the miracle run and I would like it to stay at 65 teams. If you go up to 80, then teams 81, 82 and 83 will complain, so it won't solve the moaning and groaning at the end. Why water the tournament down more? Let's have teams that have earned the right to participate.
Mick Cronin landed another big name player when former Texas forward Mike Williams announced his transfer to Cincinnati. The McDonald's All-America went to Texas with a lot of buildup, looking for him to do a lot of positive things on the frontcourt. He didn't get or earn the playing time he desired, and he was inconsistent on the court. He has a year to reshape his game and get it going. He should be an asset for the Bearcats.
When I look at J. J. Redick and this year's NBA draft, I remember back a few years ago to what was said about Jameer Nelson. I thought teams made a mistake letting him slide the way they did. He was a star on the collegiate level, proved himself against a lot of guys who went on to the NBA level, and he was certainly productive. He has done a terrific job in Orlando, earning a starting role. We will find out about Redick and some NBA people reportedly are finding him to be quicker than they thought. Utah supposedly has an interest in him, though I don't feel he will slide that far. Redick will be a very positive player in the NBA and there is no substitute for making shots. Guys go wacky and go out of control because of a prospect's athletic ability, but then they can't make shots. I can assure you from seeing him many times in person, Mr. Redick can make shots.
Cartier Martin is going to learn that part of playing for Bob Huggins at Kansas State will mean he must adhere to rules. Huggins will demand the most out of him and will get in his face. Ultimately I think we will see him in the Kansas State uniform and he will be one of the outstanding players in the Big 12. His recent suspension may help him grow and a slap like this can help in the long run.
Shagari Alleyne has had an uphill battle to adhere to the academic rules and regulations within Kentucky's program. There was a recent report that indicated Alleyne may not regain his eligibility in time for next season. Tubby Smith is a stickler for doing the right thing and that certainly includes academics. If you don't adhere to the rules, you will not be part of the program. We will have to see how that plays out.
Indiana got a positive addition with 6-10 Phil Jones out of Laurinburg Prep in North Carolina. Any time you can get a player this late who has size and mobility inside, that is a plus. I think you will see a lot of kids showing interest in wearing that Hoosiers uniform. Kelvin Sampson is doing a smart thing accepting the history of Indiana and what Bob Knight has achieved.
The decision of Cedric Simmons to stay in the NBA draft and not return to Sidney Lowe's team was a big blow to NC State. When you look at the conference makeup, keep an eye on Georgia Tech. I feel Paul Hewitt's team is going to bounce back and make some noise with the addition of freshmen Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenden; those two youngsters will be factors right away. Tech also has Ra'Sean Dickey and Jeremis Smith coming back. I think you will see this program in the upper echelon, with North Carolina and Duke the teams to beat in the ACC.
DePaul coach Jerry Wainwright suffered a blow when 6-7 recruit Manuel Cass re-opened his recruitment. Cass is expected to attend a prep school next season before going to Division I.
Congratulations to Maryland basketball coach Gary Williams on his recent induction into the Washington DC basketball Hall of Fame. Williams has done so much for his alma mater Terps over the years.
I wish all the best to Notre Dame play-by-play man Jack Lorri, who announced her retirement after 38 years. Kansas broadcaster Max Falkenstien also announced his retirement and it will be strange to go to games and not see these two outstanding announcers.
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.