Each week I will write about the sport I love, college basketball:
College basketball is the only sport that penalizes players based on the number of fouls. My friends, it is so arbitrary. I have seen big men like Roy Hibbert punished on touch fouls. Remember Greg Oden last season in the Final Four? I feel it is time to change the rules to help players. No more disqualifications for five fouls. My proposal has players staying in the game after a fifth foul; with fouls six and beyond, the opposing team would shoot two shots and get the ball back. It is a fair way to do things and fans want to see players on the court and not on the bench.
There will be lots of news about underclassmen thinking about going to the NBA. Kansas State coach Frank Martin said he believes Michael Beasley will turn pro. Is that really a surprise as most people felt Beasley would be one and done. It is a similar situation compared to Kevin Durant a year ago. USC has several players considering a jump to the NBA. Taj Gibson, who originally said he was returning to the Trojans, may be having second thoughts. Tim Floyd's program could also lose OJ Mayo and Devon Jefferson early; stay tuned. Alabama's Richard Hendrix had a solid season and he will test the NBA waters, though he did not sign with an agent, leaving his options open.
The NIT did a good job this season and the Final Four at Madison Square Garden has some marquee talent. Billy Donovan's Florida squad won two national championships and now it can add an NIT title. Massachusetts, under a rising star in the coaching profession in Travis Ford, won at Syracuse to punch a ticket to MSG. Andy Kennedy's Mississippi team surprised Virginia Tech.
Missouri State made a good move by naming Cuonzo Martin as its new coach. He was a helluva player at Purdue. Gene Keady always spoke highly of him. Martin has worked hard to get into this position. Remember, Matt Painter was a young coach who was given an opportunity and he took advantage of it.
James Madison made a solid head coaching hire by bringing in Matt Brady from Marist. Under Brady, Marist improved their wins total from the previous year during each of his first three seasons with the team. Remember, Brady has great experience as an assistant under Phil Martelli at St. Joseph's, as well as stints as an assistant at Rhode Island and Wagner.
Out at California, Ben Braun was let go as head coach of the Golden Bears. It is tough to be a consistent winner when going against schools like UCLA, Arizona and Stanford on a regular basis. California was competitive during his tenure. Braun did a super job at Eastern Michigan prior to his arrival at Berkeley, and I believe he will pop up again on the sidelines. He is too good a basketball mind!
Future Louisville star Samardo Samuels will participate in the NIKE Hoop Summit in Portland on February 24. The game, featuring America's top senior boy high school players going against a World Select Team comprised of the world's top players 19-years-old or younger, will be played at the Rose Garden. Samuels is from Jamaica and will represent the world team.
South Florida got some backcourt help when recruit Dwan McMillan out of Brooklyn recently made a commitment. He will join Mike Mercer, who transferred from Georgia. McMillan drew interest from other Big East schools, including St. John's, Providence and Cincinnati. Stan Heath's program also got a boost with a $3 million donation to help with new facilities.
How about a salute to Candice Wiggins of Stanford? She scored 44 points in her final game at Maples Pavilion, an NCAA tournament win over UTEP.
Dick Vitale coached the Pistons and the University of Detroit before broadcasting ESPN's first college basketball game in December 1979. Send him a question for possible use on ESPNEWS.