Each week I'll write about the game I love, college basketball:
• Ohio State gave coach Thad Matta a raise. Wow, do they love him in Columbus! Every time I look in the paper he is getting a raise or an extension. I would love to work in Buckeye Country and Gene Smith would be my kind of boss. You know what ... lock him up like you are doing, Mr. Smith. Matta is a quality coach in every way, and his young team will be solid this season despite the absence of guys named Oden, Conley, Lewis and Cook. Congratulations are also in order for Georgetown coach John Thompson III. He signed a six-year extension which will take him through the 2013 season with the Hoyas. He led Georgetown to its first Final Four appearance since 1985 as the squad won 30 games last season. My friends, Thompson III has a Top-five club this season.
• What about accountability in college athletics? We keep talking about responsibility and respect for the uniform and each week there seems to be another story or two about another athlete making a mistake and doing something wrong. Down at Tennessee, Vols forward Duke Crews has been suspended indefinitely for violating a team rule. When will these athletes learn responsibility? Auburn guard Frank Tolbert was charged with criminal mischief trying to retrieve his car through a locked gate when it has been towed. Pittsburgh guard Levance Fields made news for an incident off-campus. These stories keep happening too often.
• Let's hope Joe Crawford is ready for the season at Kentucky. He recently had knee surgery and Wildcat fans hope he puts up big numbers this year. I remember when there was a time early in his career when he considered transferring. Now he becomes a vital part of the Kentucky program coming off that arthroscopic knee surgery.
• I want to wish the best of luck to Louisville freshman center Clarence Holloway following his recent heart surgery. Let's hope and pray everything comes out fine and hopefully he will be able to return to the court next season. The 7-1 center from Chicago underwent a routine physical exam when the heart problem was discovered.
• Virginia coach Dave Leitao made a great hire. It was a blurb in the transactions but it jumped out at me. The Cavaliers' new Director of Basketball Operations Rick Brunson was a leader on the court at Temple. He was a quarterback on the floor and his coach, Hall of Famer John Chaney, used to rave about him. He also earned time on the NBA hardwood and he'll be a major asset to Leitao.
• You have to feel bad for Sidney Lowe and NC State. He has had a few tough breaks recently, and the latest news came when diaper dandy guard Javier Gonzalez had thumb surgery to repair ligament damage. Gonzalez is expected to miss the start of the season and that is a blow since he won't spend the preseason learning about his new teammates. Previously NC State lost another freshman, 6-5 forward Johnny Thomas, who is gone for the season following knee surgery.
• At Minnesota, Tubby Smith seems so happy with his new role as Golden Gophers head coach. I spoke to him recently and hearing the excitement in his voice, you could tell he was thrilled with this new situation. He is excited about the potential of the program and the goal this year is to get into that first division in the Big Ten. It is asking a lot considering the struggles of the team last season. Tubby has some talent returning with forward Dan Coleman, guard Lawrence McKenzie and center Spencer Tollackson. Don't ever pick against Tubby because he is a hard worker with great success. He'll teach shot selection and defense.
• The pairings came out for the CBE Classic and a few things stood out. Maryland could have an interesting second-round encounter against Doug Wojcik's Tulsa team. Also, if Northern Michigan gets past Louisiana-Monroe, it would face Michigan State, coached by Tom Izzo. By the way, Mr. Izzo graduated from Northern Michigan in 1977.