Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Keeping track of conference moves
Quick hitters on Tuesday:
• The Atlantic 10 will have an interesting dilemma if Charlotte ends up going to Conference USA for football. The A-10 is hoping to add Butler to replace Temple, which should be done within the next two weeks unless there's a hiccup. But if Charlotte leaves, will the A-10 go after George Mason or VCU to get to 14 teams? Or does the league choose both to get to 15 and add another to get to 16? A-10 commissioner Bernadette McGlade isn't afraid to stick with the current 13 teams. But she's savvy enough to know that adding Butler is a home run, and she will push for two more only if it helps the league. Adding the best from CAA (minus Old Dominion or in addition to it) would do that, too.
• Indiana and Kentucky will decide soon about whether they'll play a new series. As both coaches said last week, there is an impasse. Tom Crean and IU want it home-and-home, and UK and John Calipari want it at Lucas Oil Stadium or in Louisville and split the tickets. There are so few big-time home-and-home series now. I'd like to see it stay as a home-and-home. If they played next season, it would be in Kentucky.
• The reason fewer home-and-home nonconference series will occur is because of 18-game league schedules and the proliferation of the challenges between conferences (SEC-Big East/ACC-Big Ten/MVC-MWC, etc.).
• New SMU coach Larry Brown passed his recruiting test and was on the road last weekend.
• Cincinnati is trying to upgrade its schedule but is having a hard time doing so. The Bearcats play in Las Vegas with Iowa State and either UNLV or Oregon. They play at Marshall and probably will play Xavier. But this schedule needs more beef for a likely top-30 team next season.
• New SMU coach-in-waiting Tim Jankovich has been on warp speed since he landed in Dallas. But he is already impressed by the possibilities -- and facilities -- at SMU.
His former assistants, though, are rightfully nervous. Assistant coach Rob Judson will get a look to replace Jankovich at Illinois State (so will Vanderbilt assistant and former Illinois State player Dan Muller and Gonzaga assistant Ray Giacoletti). But assistants Anthony Beane, Paris Parham and director of basketball operations Kerry Darting are also hanging on to see if Judson gets the job. If he doesn't, one or all could be out of a gig because Jankovich left. It's an odd and tenuous circumstance for an Illinois State team that's set to compete for the Missouri Valley Conference title.
• The NBA will send out the official early-entry list within the next day or so. Maryland's Terrell Stoglin is expected to be the only late add. NC State coach Mark Gottfried escaped any angst when C.J. Leslie didn't reverse course and declare.
• Seriously, what was the point of the April 10 NCAA deadline for players to declare for the draft? The NCAA should just stop the foolishness and stick with the NBA's deadline of April 29. No one is picking up any players in recruiting as a result of the April 10 deadline. The NCAA should just allow the NBA to have its deadline and be done with creating any unnecessary confusion.
• Gottfried isn't totally embracing the Wolfpack as an ACC title contender -- yet. "We finished 9-7 in the league,'' Gottfried said. "People are telling me they're buying tickets for the Final Four. It's all good. I really like this team, but we've got to take that next step.''
• I covered the WAC for nine seasons from 1990 to '99. And I loved the various outposts and storylines. The 16-team WAC had the potential to be one of the best leagues in the country at the time, but its presidents didn't have the patience. The demise of the league is sad to see. It wasn't the ACC or the Big Ten, but winning at the Marriott Center, the Pit, the Huntsman Center, in El Paso, Laramie, Fort Collins and Tulsa, were some of the toughest challenges in the country. The fan bases were passionate and the quality of basketball was high. Recently, the league has been in a slow decline toward irrelevance. However, at its height, it was a pleasure to cover.