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Wednesday, January 18, 2012
The Hype Machine: KU, Scott Machado

By Myron Medcalf
ESPN.com

The Hype Machine can't believe what's transpired in recent days.

More tantrums. Really? Guess they'll have to take away the chairs … from the adults.

The Wooden Award's midseason list acknowledges a few mid-major stars. Kudos. But if a national player of the year candidate rarely competes on TV, will he earn legitimate consideration for the award? Stay tuned.

And although many thought Kansas would get lost in this season's talented Big 12, the Jayhawks look like the best squad in the league right now. Perhaps we shouldn't be so surprised.

The Past: There's a double standard for players' and coaches' on-court conduct

BELIEVE THE HYPE:
Last week, after getting called for a technical foul during Tuesday's 95-61 loss at Michigan State, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery slammed a chair to the floor, evoking memories of Bobby Knight's bad behavior.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany didn't name names, but he told USA Today in an email Sunday: "The conference did communicate its concern regarding certain conduct during the Iowa-MSU game to the institution through Iowa's athletic director, the coach's direct supervisor.

"The conference did not ask for, nor did the conference expect, an apology from the coach. The conference is primarily focused on future conduct, not statements of apology. The conference does not expect similar conduct in the future."

Last week, I covered the Iowa State-Missouri matchup in Ames, Iowa. One player who participated in that game told me that an official warned him for "getting too excited" after Iowa State guard Scott Christopherson nailed a 50-footer at the halftime buzzer and sent the Hilton Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.

It's interesting that the Crosstown Brawl between Xavier and Cincinnati has put game/league/team officials into panic mode, but McCaffery's antics drew the same reaction from the Big Ten that I have when my 3-year-old throws her Dora the Explorer doll down the steps because she's not interested in going to bed.

C'mon. How can officials come down so hard on players but offer coaches this level of leniency?

The McCaffery situation conveys a double standard in college basketball. A player gets warned when he gets amped up during an exciting game. A coach slams a chair and his conference's officials say, "Please don't do it again. That's all."

That was after McCaffery drew five technical fouls this season. And that's after he made this statement about the Fran Slam: "If anybody thinks I'm going to sit there with my hands crossed when we're down by 40 [points], they've got the wrong guy," he told the Des Moines Register. "I was brought in here to change the culture. I'm going to coach with passion and my players know that. They also know I'm going to fight for them."

I'm not advising more suspensions, ejections and other penalties for coaches or players. All I'm saying is that there should be a brand of fairness in the penal process for both.

Watch any college basketball game and you can see a "threat level orange" response whenever any in-game behavior approaches potential fisticuffs between players. Officials should police coaches with the same swift force.

The Xavier-Cincinnati situation was a lesson for the entire country. Escalating emotions must be tempered early when possible. But coaches only add to the problem when they behave badly on the sidelines.

The game's power brokers can show how serious they are about enforcing concrete standards for players and coaches by equally reprimanding both when they cross the line. McCaffery's superiors chose otherwise.

The Present: Iona's Scott Machado deserves some national hardware

BELIEVE THE HYPE:
Iona's floor leader, Scott Machado, is one of the best players in the country. And even though Machado is a Wooden Award midseason finalist, he's certainly at a disadvantage in the national POY race. It's not because of skill.

Machado
Iona point guard Scott Machado leads the country in assists per game (10.3) and is a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award and Wooden Award.

Machado has played on national TV only a handful of times this season. So most folks -- even the ones who've read about him -- haven't watched him play.

The 6-foot-1 point guard, however, is leading the nation in assists (10.3 apg) and guides one of the most potent offenses in America.

The Gaels are third in points per game (84.4 ppg), first in assists (20.0 apg) and fourth in field goal percentage (50.1 percent) nationally. And for my tempo-free folks, the Gaels are ranked 19th in Ken Pomeroy's adjusted offense ratings (just one spot behind North Carolina).

I've followed Machado all season. And I think he might be America's best point guard.

That's why he's on the radar of NBA general managers (Chad Ford has Machado at No. 43 on his list of the Top 100 NBA prospects). And that's why Machado made the Wooden Award midseason list.

But he's worth more than a mention. This talented guard deserves some serious consideration, if not for the Wooden Award, then certainly for the Cousy Award, given to the nation's best point guard.

Of the past eight Cousy Award winners, only one from a mid-major conference-- Saint Joseph's Jameer Nelson -- has been honored.

If you vote for a national award -- and even if you don't -- find a TV Friday night at 10 p.m. ET. Turn on ESPNU and watch Iona versus Rider in a MAAC matchup.

The Future: Many, including me, were wrong about Kansas

BELIEVE THE HYPE:

I should have known.

After I checked out the Big 12 lineup before the season, I figured Kansas coach Bill Self's reign had come to an end.

Bill Self & Thomas Robinson
Bet against Kansas in the Big 12? That turned out to be a mistake.

Missouri was juiced. Perry Jones III was back for Baylor. Texas A&M and Kansas State had potential. And Iowa State offered an intriguing collection of talent.

But midway through January, Self's Jayhawks look like the best team in the Big 12. A convincing home win over Baylor on Monday sent an "If you don't know, now you know" message to the league.

It's still early and the Jayhawks don't travel to Baylor and Missouri until early February, but they're not bowing out of the Big 12 race anytime soon, especially with the torture opponents continue to face at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks have the Big 12's best scoring offense (78.8 ppg) and scoring defense (60.6 ppg) in league play.

Junior forward Thomas Robinson tops most national player of the year ballots. Senior guard Tyshawn Taylor is a walking suspense movie with his turnover challenges, but he can put up big numbers and lead in crucial games when he's on.

The Jayhawks' slate will get tougher soon. But right now, conference title No. 8 (the Jayhawks have won at least a share of the last seven Big 12 titles) seems feasible for Self & Co.

The Hoopla: The Big Ten is still the best league in the country, despite the recent carnage at the top of the standings (DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE) … Thomas Robinson, Doug McDermott and Anthony Davis (in that order) should be the front-runners for national player of the year honors (BELIEVE THE HYPE) … Illinois, the Big Ten leader at 4-1, is really the best team in the conference (DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE) … Memphis will win Conference USA without Adonis Thomas, who will undergo ankle surgery that most likely will end his season (BELIEVE THE HYPE) … The WCC looks great at the top, but Saint Mary's, Gonzaga and BYU have all looked shaky outside of their home venues, so don't bet on a big March from this conference (BELIEVE THE HYPE) … North Carolina's pre-court-storming fiasco in the closing seconds of its lopsided loss at Florida State over the weekend makes even less sense after Tar Heels coach Roy Williams tried to explain it (BELIEVE THE HYPE).

Myron Medcalf covers college basketball for ESPN.com. He can be reached at mmedcalf3030@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MedcalfbyESPN.