November 10, 2006
Each Friday I write about the sport I love, college basketball.
Down at Kansas, coach Bill Self made a decision; CJ Giles will not longer be part of the program. Just like Marcus Thomas, the big defensive tackle at Florida had the opportunity to be a vital part of a potential national championship team, Giles could have been part of something special. Both of those guys just don't get it. They don't understand accountability and responsibility. Players need to have a special sense of pride wearing the uniform, representing the university. It amazes me how immature and how some athletes are lacking in their personal decisions. They need to grow up. I salute Self for not taking any nonsense and moving on. Kansas is a special program and it is bigger than any individual. Giles really underachieved in his career.
At Boston College, Sean Williams and Akida McLain were sent to the sidelines. When are these kids going to realize how important it is to carry themselves properly. They should look at their coach, Al Skinner, to learn the right way to do things. Skinner was a model citizen at Massachusetts, in the ABA and NBA. Hopefully Williams and McLain can bounce back from these poor decisions.
It is a nice, sentimental touch, though it will be tough for Jamie Dixon to take his highly-ranked Pittsburgh squad to West Point November 12th. The Panthers are participating in the Maggie Dixon Classic, facing Western Michigan. It is one of the beautiful settings for a college campus, and I remember going on annual trips to West Point when I was teaching the sixth grade. This will be a tough trip for Jamie as many will remember Maggie's passing shortly after the NCAA tournament last season. It will be special to recognize Maggie. Army's women's team will meet Ohio State in the other half of the doubleheader.
It didn't take long for Jarrius Jackson to wake up and get his academics organized. The guard showed some responsibility and he returned to practice with the Texas Tech club. Jackson will team up with Charlie Burgess to form an exceptional backcourt. Burgess has exceptional speed and athletic ability and they should wreak havoc in the Big 12. While talking about the Red Raiders, congratulations to coach Bob Knight on being named the winner of the 2006 Pete Newell Challenge Career Achievement Award.
People down in Hoosierland are getting excited about the return of DJ White. It will be the first season on the sidelines for coach Kelvin Sampson. Indiana's question mark will be at the point guard slot. How consistent will Earl Calloway perform in that position? The wings will be strong with Roderick Wilmont and AJ Ratliff. You can't win big on the collegiate level unless your point guard can execute and be efficient with the ball. Indiana opens up the season in the NIT against Lafayette.
Can Butler spoil the potential match-up between the Hoosiers and Notre Dame? Indiana and the Irish would meet in the second round of the NIT preseason tip-off. IU and ND used to play every year, though they have not met the past two seasons. Word around the grapevine indicate that Indiana doesn't want to play Notre Dame regularly and that has left Irish fans upset. Don't be surprised if Notre Dame begins a home and away series with the Fightin' Illini. A game between Notre Dame and Indiana annually would be a natural; maybe Sampson could make that happen. It would be a great match-up instead of having cupcake city.
I was recently asked which team could be like a Florida and come out of the woodwork and surprise people this season. I am not saying it would win the national championship like the Gators did. Something tells me Georgia Tech is going to make some noise. Paul Hewitt's club was in the Final Four a few years back. Last year, the Yellow Jackets lacked point guard play when Jarrett Jack left early. This season there is a combination of newcomers and experienced performers. With Anthony Morrow and Ra'Sean Dickey back, plus Thaddeus Young and Javaris Crittenton, this team is building something special. Dickey may be coming off the bench with Zach Peacock getting the starting nod during the preseason. Georgia Tech freshman Brad Sheehan from Latham, N.Y., has decided to red-shirt this season. The 6-11, 220-pound Sheehan can use the year to get stronger. He played 11 minutes in an exhibition game.
UCLA freshman forward Nikola Dragovic has been ruled ineligible for the first 10 games of the season. The NCAA ruled that his participation on a club team was equivalent to playing on a professional team because some members received compensation. Dragovic never received compensation. He will be eligible to play December 23rd against Michigan.
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.