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All the Hype Machine wanted was a break for the holidays. Go home, see Mom and Pop Machine and a few old friends. But that vacation will have to wait because there's so much hype to discuss.
|Don't put all the blame on Phil Martelli for the mess at Saint Joseph's.|
A noteworthy coach is blocking an average player's potentially bright future at another school. Should we blame the coach or the ridiculous system that allows him to do that?
And just when we found one more reason to cringe in college sports, a young stud did the right thing. Plus, Kentucky's "SEC juggernaut" status was questioned as some of its conference peers began to surge, and a Big 12 contender might need to make a major move to compete for the crown.• Blame the system, not only Phil Martelli, for the Todd O'Brien mess
BELIEVE THE HYPE:
Imagine this scene:
Power Coach X walks into an impromptu team meeting in late March to discuss big news with his players. "Yes, the rumors are true. I'm headed to Do-You-Know-What-They're-Paying-Me University," he tells them. The players, whom he recruited and promised that he'd stick around for the entirety of their four-year careers, don't respond. After a few minutes of silence, the team's captain stands up and announces the team's decision. "Coach, you're not going anywhere. We're not going to release you from your commitment to us. You can't leave," he says.
That's the power that college basketball coaches possess. Players need permission to transfer to and compete for another school. Yet coaches can bolt whenever they want.
That's the underlying problem with the O'Brien situation. It's not good for anyone. O'Brien told SI.com this week that his former coach, Saint Joseph's Phil Martelli, is blocking him from playing at UAB.
Martelli has remained silent. Perhaps there's more to the story. But denying the transfer request of a player who played just over seven minutes per game doesn't look good for Martelli or the program, even if there's some compelling, unknown reason for preventing O'Brien's move.
But Martelli shouldn't have this power.
No coach should have the ability to dictate and direct a player's future the way that NCAA coaches can. It's not fair, especially when coaches can leave a program within weeks or months of their arrival.
The system needs to change so that players get more guarantees -- four-year scholarships -- or more freedom to leave school when they feel like they need a change.
The argument against the latter is that players would abuse the extra flexibility. That's probably true. They're a reflection of their coaches. And that group loves to bounce around.• Drummond's gesture showcases the goodwill in college sports
BELIEVE THE HYPE: College basketball suffered a series of black eyes in recent months: pay-for-play scandals, a coach accused of molesting children and a postgame melee that could have resulted in criminal charges.
So it was refreshing to read about Andre Drummond's decision to reject teammate Michael Bradley's initial offer to give up his scholarship for the freshman standout.
When Drummond chose the Huskies earlier this year, the program didn't have a scholarship for him. Bradley offered to give his full ride to Drummond, but the latter wouldn't take it.
So Drummond is competing as a walk-on and is not receiving any institutional funds to attend school.
In reality, Bradley couldn't have transferred his scholarship to Drummond, according to UConn officials. But it's the thought that counts, right? In less than a year, Drummond will probably sign a multimillion-dollar contract with an NBA team. So it's not like a year's tuition will set him back financially in the long-term. But Drummond made a team move simply because he believed it was the right thing to do. Bradley did, too. Can't be mad at that.• SEC's other contenders good enough to crush Kentucky's title hopes
DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE:
I think the SEC will prove to be a better league than it appears to be right now. Vanderbilt has the personnel to launch a turnaround. The Commodores just need to add a motivational speaker to their coaching staff.
|Despite what you may hear, Kentucky is still the team to beat in the SEC.|
Florida just destroyed a Texas A&M team that was viewed as a Big 12 contender last month. Pre-collapse Alabama looked like Kentucky's greatest threat for a stretch. And now Mississippi State -- winner of 10 straight -- is supposedly the latest squad that could disrupt Kentucky's shot at the SEC title.
But I just don't buy it.
I don't think Kentucky will go undefeated in SEC play. But it's still more talented and versatile than any other team in the conference and should win the league title. I think the Wildcats will get a fight from a few teams but, in the end, they should be the champs.
Until Vandy makes a move, you can't assume that the Commodores will enter the mix. MSU's best wins came against overrated Texas A&M and Arizona squads. Florida's limited frontcourt depth could be an issue in conference play. And Alabama is inconsistent.
Kentucky, however, is one last-second 3-pointer away from being an undefeated squad with wins over Kansas and North Carolina. The SEC is still John Calipari and Co.'s league.• Kansas needs to make a move at point guard
DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE:
The Jayhawks don't have much depth. We knew that before the season started.
And that's a major problem. Senior point guard Tyshawn Taylor is averaging 4.4 turnovers per game, which has prompted some fans to call for a change. Taylor didn't help his cause by committing five turnovers during Kansas' 80-74 loss Monday to Davidson in Kansas City, Mo.
Making a personnel move is an intriguing concept, but where would Bill Self turn?
It's definitely not the right time to insert freshman Naadir Tharpe into that role, considering his inexperience and Taylor's productivity in other areas of the game. The turnovers are troublesome. But the Jayhawks don't have the personnel to make a major switch.
It's up to Taylor to correct his ballhandling challenges because Self just doesn't have any other options.
Myron Medcalf covers college basketball for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @MedcalfbyESPN