SDBB – “Ro on Recruiting” – This is Your 2015-16 Duke Blue Devils

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

In his 4th installment, Rowan Shiell outlines what Duke will look like next season and what they may look like beyond that …

Mike Krzyzewski is recruiting a lot of players in the Class of 2016 that look like “one-and-done” recruits. #1 Jayson Tatum, #2 Harry Giles, #4 Dennis Smith, and #14 Tyus Battle are all based on ESPN’s 2016 rankings. All Duke targets that could finish in the Top 10 which is probably “one-and-done” range.

Those guys all have a foot through the door. 3 of them are Wing Players. They will all start when they show up. Go figure.

I have read reports that Grayson Allen will play anything from the #1 to #3 Position next season.

Some say Luke Kenard is sliding at the moment, but I think he should be a wonderful player, but only if given the opportunity to shine.

Many say Chase Jeter isn’t a “one-and-done,” more like one and work. Obi needs to lose weight, as he is chunky in the wrong places.

Aside from Brandon Ingram, Duke will struggle to score at times next season. Derryck Thornton isn’t a “one-and-done” recruit, but I think he can change that. Actually he will, but there might be an issue of his age. He is currently 17 years and 11 months (I don’t know how up to date “247 web page” is), which means he turns 19 next May.

So to recap, Duke will have:

  • A potential “one-and-done” in Brandon Ingram
  • 2 Seniors in Amile Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee
  • A Junior in Matt Jones
  • Derryck Thornton might be potential “one-and-done”
  • Chase Jeter will be a wannabe “one-and-done.”
  • Sean Obi a Sophomore, having been forced to sit out a year because of his transfer to Duke.
  • Luke Kenard is a gamer
  • Grayson Allen, a star in the making.

These are your 2015-16 Duke Blue Devils.

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Simply Duke Basketball – “Ro on Recruiting” – Fixing Transfer Rules

 SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

In this 3rd installment, Rowan Shiell takes on the Transfer issue from both sides that dominates recent recruiting news …

 

Does the NCAA really need adjust the Transfer rules ???

Currently, if a player wishes to change schools he has to sit out a year, however, if he can graduate in 3 years, leaving one year of eligibility, he can choose to play at another school and play immediately.

“No one is happy with the transfer rate, particularly in the sport of men’s basketball,” Kevin Lennon, the NCAA’s new vice president for Division I governance, said. “When 40 percent of your students are leaving after their second year, that’s a signal something’s wrong.”

Yes something is wrong, but it is not just the student-athletes who should be held accountable for this.

  • What about the coaches who continue to over recruit ???  
  • Shouldn’t they be held accountable too ???

Surely some punishment should be put in place if a coach has one too many kids asking for Transfers.

Coaches like Tom Crean, who continuously over recruits only to watch the lesser player walk out the door is indicative of the other side of the problem. Even Duke isn’t immune to this since.  Coach K has ignored certain players, so that he can showcase his “one-and-done” players, only to see them walk out the door.

In an ideal world, players should wait their turn while learning from upperclassmen how to play the game and conduct themselves off the Court, however …

  • When a Freshman is given playing time over said player how are they to behave ???  
  • Should they burn up their 4 years of eligibility being great practice players, or should they leave ???  
  • What if another freshman is given precedence over them ???

If the NCAA wants to adjust the Transfer rules they have to take into consideration that players attend college not just for an education, but to actually play basketball.  If opportunities aren’t available at their current school then they should be able to find such opportunities elsewhere, while continuing their education.

Coach Calipari was quoted as saying that Graduate Students should sit a year and waivers should be eliminated.  The same guy who already has a recruit ready to replace any of his prized recruits that is ready to go pro.

  • If said recruit doesn’t go pro what happens ???
  • Does he hang around Lexington and watch his minutes and production decrease in favour of a Freshman, or does he leave ???

 “You have one line of thinking that says when a student has earned their undergraduate degree they’ve earned the right to go wherever they want without any kind of NCAA restrictions,” Lennon said. “I think, unfortunately, what the data has shown is that people are transferring and they are not completing their graduate degrees because the vast majority of those degrees are two years.”

We need to look at why these student-athletes aren’t completing their graduate degrees.  Are they not doing so because they need to pony up for the second year, or do they just want to play and leave to pursue other opportunities in basketball when their eligibility is up ???

Gary Parish doesn’t think that there is a Transfer issue considering that the number of players that transfer are a miniscule percentage.  He also pointed out another angle to this issue, that Kevin Lennon hadn’t tackled or acknowledged in his press conference announcing his war on Transfers.  It is that some coaches do not renew scholarships after a year and the players are forced to transfer.

Parish highlighted a BYU player, Isaac Nielson, who was essentially shown the door by coach Dave Rose, after a season and a half on campus, and now has to find another school to continue his education while being penalised a year.

“He didn’t say anything about walking on [playing without a scholarship] or anything like that,” Neilson told the Salt Lake Tribune. “He just said it would probably be in my best interest to find another place to play. He said he kinda felt like we were on different pages. “I guess he thought he would be a bigger, stronger, low-post player, and I guess I like space, pretty much. I am a shooter.”

Clearly both coach and player were not a good fit, then surely they should both be allowed to move on without penalty.  We haven’t even discussed the issue of players who commit to a school only because of the coach in question only to see the coach get fired.

 

Recruiting Roundup

Ben Howland has continued his exceptional recruiting prowess when he lured top shooting guard, Malik Newman, to Mississippi State as of last Friday.

This leaves only two of the top recruits without a school, Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram. By the time you read this we should know which school, the latter player, who is a top target of Duke, will be going.

Dylan Ennis has trimmed his list to Illinois, Baylor and Oregon essentially eliminating Duke, who now have a Point Guard in Derryk Thornton.

Jayson Tatum, the consensus number one recruit from the 2016 class, has recently trimmed his list of potential schools to North Carolina, Kentucky, SLU and Duke. Tatum is a 6’8″ small forward.

Simply Duke Basketball: “Ro on Recruting” – Derryk Thornton Commits to Duke !!!

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

In this 2nd installment of his series, Rowan Shiell comments on Duke’s newest recruit, Derryk Thornton, who committed Tuesday …

The commitment of Derryk Thornton, on Tuesday, has solved Duke’s biggest concern going into next season.

Tyus Jones left a void when he declared for the 2015 NBA Draft. Now, his position has been filled with a 5 Star prospect who, will reclassify to the 2015 class.

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 The 6’2” Guard was the 11th ranked recruit in the 2016 Class and is now ranked 17th (2nd at his position) according on ESPN’s Top 100 list of recruits for the 2015 class.  He turns 18 in May and has now sacrificed being named an All American, next season, in favour of attending Duke, in the Fall.

“I have been considering reclassifying up for months, so it’s been on my mind,” Thornton said.

“Last night, Coach K and Jeff Capel came in for the visit and they told me how much confidence they have in me to be their Point Guard next year. They were very prepared about my game and their plan for me.”

“They told me they could have went after 5th-year Transfers but wanted me instead. I am excited about the opportunity and the challenge.”

Guessing that Dylan Ennis, a Guard who decided to transfer from Villanova in order to get more time playing Point Guard, is now out of the question, or was never really a serious contender.  Either way Duke has their man.

Thornton averaged 17.2 Points and 6.2 Assists in guiding Findley Prep to the SemiFinals of Dick’s Nationals.  They lost to eventual Champions, Monteverde Academy, who feature several top recruits including Ben Simmons the top ranked player in the 2015 class.

You can find an in depth scouting report on Thornton here.

Next up on the agenda is Brandon Ingram, now ranked the top Small Forward in the 2015 class, and the 3rd overall recruit according to ESPN.  He is due to announce next Monday and is now happy that Duke has a Point Guard, as that was one of his concerns.

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Simply Duke Basketball Series: “Ro on Recruiting” Installment #1

SDBB - Champions - Never Stops !!! - 5

This is the 1st Installment of our summer series by Rowan Shiell.  In this article, he examines the big picture, which promises to change quite rapidly as Coach K settles on his team for next season, so stay tuned !!!

Duke had both their prized recruits on display at the Nike Hoop Summit, which is a more structured level of competition as opposed to the McDonald’s All American game, or the Jordan Brand Classic.

The USA lost to a World Team for the 3rd year in a row, which means that the game is changing at the roots.  It won’t be long before USA will struggle to dominate the International Competition at the top of the game.  This will be a problem for the coach that follows Coach Krzyzewski, as it will be another 5 years before this happens due to the disposition of the talent level worldwide. It isn’t hard to predict that Canada and Australia are the frontrunners to unseat America when this happens.

As for the World Game at hand, there was good news and bad news.

The Bad 

Chase Jeter: Five points, five rebounds, one steal, 1-5 FG

Jeter is another player that seemed to struggle to finish against the World Team’s length.  His physical tools are certainly apparent, but the skill level just isn’t quite there yet.  This is okay, given that he was the youngest of the big men in camp this week.  He’s not a “one-and-done,” but he will certainly have a shot at the NBA due to his athleticism and size.

The good

Luke Kennard

You can turn that around and say its great that Jeter will be around for more than one season and bad that Kenard may be gone after a year.  Jeter was anticipated as a “one and done” player but the fact that Duke was still recruiting Caleb Swanigan (committed to Michigan State) should have been a sign that they were not happy with just Jeter.  With Sean Obi coming off his Red Shirt year, Marshall Plumlee and Amile Jefferson returning as Seniors, they all and should get more playing time.

Kennard is a high scoring Guard who is now a legend in Ohio.  As a Senior he averaged 38.1 points, a hairline shy of 10 Rebounds, almost 6 Assists and 2 Steals.  One can assume, with all the recent accolades, that he will leave if he has a good Freshman season at Duke.  He just outplayed Malik Newman for Team USA, who is considered the top combo Guard in the 2015 class.

Kennard is compared to JJ Reddick and Jon Scheyer because of his ability to shoot, this being reinforced after he won the McDonald’s All American 3 Point Contest.  He can also utilise his 6’6″ frame to finish strong at the rim.

The way Duke uses him will be dependant on Duke getting another Point Guard to replace Tyus Jones, who is leaving for the NBA Draft.  If Duke can’t get a Point Guard, then Kennard will probably be utilised as a Lead Guard. Lets hope he is more Jon Scheyer than Jimmer Fredette.

Chase Jeter on the other hand is losing ground fast. Jahlil Okafor is a tough act to follow, yet this hasn’t deterred Jeter from committing to Duke in the wake of the Freshman Of the Year.  From Loren Woods to the Wear twins, the guy, or guys, that follows the dominating big guy is always torn to shreds, as expectation levels are too high to maintain.

Loren Woods followed Tim Duncan at Wake Forest and the Wear twins followed Tyler Hansbrough at North Carolina.  They all eventually transferred and found happiness elsewhere.

Jeter, will have help, at Duke, in the form of Jefferson and Rice transfer, Sean Obi, however it needs to be reinforced that Jeter is no Okafor, who was the consensus #1 recruit coming to Duke. Jeter is currently ranked 9th by ESPN. Where one is a low post banger, albeit one of the best to ever play in college basketball in a very long time, the other is more of a finesse player who plays facing the basket.

Jeter is connected to Duke in a surprising way. Chris Jeter was one of those kids that were given a second chance at UNLV after flaming out somewhere else.  Today the elder Jeter is a police officer in Las Vegas. The surprising aspect is that his son is now committed to Duke, who had a turbulent history with UNLV back in the early ’90’s when Jeter was enrolled there.

One other recruit that is on Duke’s radar is Brandon Ingram, a North Carolina kid who had a good showing at the Hoop Summit.

Brandon Ingram: 12 points, 5-6 FG, 3 Rebounds, one Assist.

Ingram played a “small-ball” 4 (in quotations because he’s still nearly 6-foot-10, after all) for a majority of his minutes, and it’s a role he excelled in against the bigger World frontline.  Ingram showed off the ability to pull up off the dribble in the midrange for jumpers, the ability to slash in the lane for lay-ins, as well as get out in transition for a guy his size.  He still needs to put on a lot of weight, but with his 7-foot-3 wingspan and his smooth athleticism, he could end up being one of the better prospects in this class when it’s all said and done. Defensively he’s more of a mixed bag, as his stance is rather hunched over and isn’t ideal.  The key will be making the right college decision, and ending up in the right situation that will play him in the role he was deployed in today.  He is a developmental guy, but one that could really blossom soon.

Ingram is currently considering Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and North Carolina. Based on the fact that he hasn’t committed to a school yet, Kentucky may be the favourite here.  The Wildcats already have a commitment from Charles Mathews, and Alex Poythress will be back.  The stumbling block here is if Jaylen Brown signs with Kentucky Ingram could be the odd man out.

If I was a top ten wing prospect I would avoid UNC because of Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson, Isaiah Hicks and Brice Johnson.  All these guys are interchangeable, and may be the reason why UNC struggled over the past season. Coach Roy Williams has recruited one too many 6’6″ to 6’9″ guys who can’t shoot from far, and can’t bang in the Post.  The exceptions here are Jackson, who showed promise as a shooter and Johnson who finishes well around the hoop, but could enter the upcoming NBA Draft, like Tokono. Ingram, who fits into the same category as all these guys but has a higher ceiling, and will always be looking over his shoulder at numerous guys that can replace him.

This means that it is either Duke or Kansas for Ingram. Brown is also considering Kansas.  If Ingram wants to stay in state his best option, from his list, is Duke because with the departure of Justise Winslow he will have ample playing time, and Duke will sink or swim with him.

Kansas has only Brannen Greene, at Small Forward, with the departure Kelly Oubre to the NBA Draft.  So, Kansas can provide Ingram with as much playing time as Duke, however he will be one Jay Hawk among many unlike at Duke where he will more than likely have ample opportunities to shine individually and as part as a team.

The importance of the last aspect cannot be understated. Coming into the season there were 4 Small Forwards rated above Justise Winslow.  They were all ranked in the Top 15, with Winslow bring up the rear, but now he will more than likely be the top Small Forward chosen in the 2015 NBA Draft.  Why ??? Stanley Johnson went to Arizona and divided minutes with Rondae Hollis Jefferson. Justin Jackson and Theo Pinson both went to North Carolina. Kansas faltered down the stretch.

All these players struggled at one point or anotherm but guess which player was allowed to play through his struggles and it paid dividends at the end of the season ???  Justice Winslow.  The only guy smart enough to go to a school where he was needed. When Pinson got hurt Roy Williams replaced him with Jackson.  When Stanley Johnson struggled, Sean Miller benched him in favour of Hollis Jefferson.  Oubre had a strong finish to his season but I have yet to hear a strong argument of him over Winslow.

 

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Simply Duke Basketball – Tyus Declares for the NBA Draft


Duke v Gonzaga

In this article, Ro Shiell discusses the decision of Tyus Jones to declare for the NBA Draft, joining “Oaks” and “The Chief” and the rationale attached …

After a heartbreaking loss in the first game of the 2014 Big Dance, Coach Mike Krzyzewski received an emboldened text message from a high school Senior saying, this won’t happen next year.”  A promise the player, now a  Freshman, was able to fulfill when he recently lead Duke, not just past the 1st Round, but to a National Championship, the 5th of Coach Krzyzewski’s tenure.

Many Freshmen have entered college basketball with big aspirations, only to crash and burn. Jones is one of a handful to not only make such a promise, but to be a major contributor in affecting it.

The question now is:  What’s next ??? 

Tyus Jones can return to Duke and would, more than likely, be named a pre-season All American candidate and a leading Wooden Award Nominee.  If he was to make good on these nominations, then that would lead to a higher draft pick and longer staying power in the NBA.

The other option is to enter the NBA draft and hopefully join a league of very selective professionals.

As you may know by now, Jones has opted for the 2nd Option with the blessing of his coach.

“Tyus could not have done a better job for us this past year ,” Coach Krzyzewski said in a statement, as reported by ESPN. “We’re so very happy for him and his family to have the opportunity to declare for the draft.

Some sceptics may say that “he isn’t ready” or “he could do with another year of coaching” which couldn’t be further from the truth.  Another year in college basketball means getting better at college basketball.  The NBA is a different game.  The truth is that a player is more likely to fall in the Draft, after another year in college, than rise.

Harrison Barnes, Jared Sullinger, Perry Jones were all lucky enough to be still drafted, albeit lower (much lower in Sullinger’s case) than their projections as Freshmen, after returning to college.

Then there are players like Ronald Steele who got injured and was never drafted, or Jordan Taylor, who had a great Junior season at Wisconsin.  He went back after being projected as a late 1st Round pick to early 2nd rounder, only to see his name go uncalled after a lacklustre Senior year.

The NBA is fleeting so when it calls, you have answer, or it’s on to the next player.  Even Jason Williams supports this decision with the following Tweet.

Jay Williams ‏@RealJayWilliams 

This was the play for Tyus.

Win a championship & #FinalFour MVP = have to go.

Imagine if Jones returned to school, improving his stats, and was the leading scorer on a team that lost in the 2nd round of the Big Dance.  Wouldn’t that be a complete disappointment when you measure it against his 1st season ???  The toughest part of this is that the more we see a player the more faults we find like:

He is short !!!

So is Shabazz Napier.

He can’t dunk !!!   

Did that help Steve Nash win 2 Championships ???

He can’t guard NBA talent !!!

Newsflash: NBA talent can’t guard NBA talent that’s where coaching strategies come in.

Not everyone can be Grant Hill and head back to college after winning not one but two Championships in his 1st two seasons at Duke.  The NBA landscape has changed a lot since the mid 1990’s when Seniors were coveted as high draft picks, not to mention that Hill was a once in a lifetime talent.

Then there is the education aspect. It is nice to have a degree to fall back on, especially if a player wants to go into coaching at the college level, after their playing days are done.  On the other hand, they can always go back and finish up their studies while still playing.

Now the question is:   “Does Duke lose out on this ???”

The Blue Devils do not have a traditional Point Guard for next season.  Not yet.  On the surface it may seem like they need Tyus Jones back, but not necessarily so.  Coach K is one of the best coaches in the business because of his resiliency.  Duke will be fine.

As a matter of fact Duke would fare better if Tyus Jones was to be drafted in the 1st Round and go on to have an outstanding NBA career.  Why ???  It helps recruiting especially elite recruits. High school players are now looking at Duke, hoping to emulate Jones’ success.

If Jones remains true to himself, showing the poise and competitive flair he has shown in college, he will be fine in the NBA.  After all, it is a Guard friendly league.

We hate to see him go, buy we wish him all the best at the next level !!!

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SDBB: Point/CounterPoint #21 – Evaluating the CBS Coverage of the Big Dance

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All season long we watch ESPN, who has a large stable of long time Commentators and/or former Coaches, who add a great depth to the season. After a season of being comfortable with the Commentators/Announcers, we reach the Big Dance that will decide the National Championship, and get the offerings of CBS.  In this installment, Ro Shiell and Bermuda Bob rate the performance of the pairings CBS gave us.

Query #1

We will do this in the order of Seniority.  Verne Lundquist, Jim Spinarkle, Allie LaForce team were assigned to East Region in Syracuse.  

How did you think they handled their assignment ???

Bermuda Bob:

Somehow, someway, I think every sports fan in America grew up with Verne Lundquist calling some type of game.  He is an icon I am glad to see active.  Teaming him with Jim Spinarkle is like ham and eggs.  They have no agendas and always make you want to join them right there on Press Row.  They know how to handle both praise-worthy play without overdoing it, and handle unfortunate play the same way.

Allie LaForce is the “better half” of a late night/ over night CBS show called “LEAD OFF” with Doug Gottlieb.  She makes the show in my estimation.

Rowan:

Looking into Verne Lunquist I have learned that he’s quite a character who has no qualms in sharing his thoughts on his fellow broadcasters. You can follow the link here to hear his thoughts on Jim Nantz a “script reader” and Greg Anthony, for obvious reasons, among others.

Jim Spanarkel is a former Duke player who has paved the way into broadcasting for a long line of fellow alums.

Allie LaForce is the type of talent that can blandly read off numerous statistics, and make it sound incredibly interesting, so long as the camera is kept trained on her. She should be given her own Half-Time show.

Query #2

The MidWest Region was covered by Marv Albert, Len Elmore, Chris Webber, and Lewis Johnson, subbing for Craig Sager, whose cancer has returned.  We send Craig our best wishes, and look forward to his colourful ensembles.  

What did you think of the way this team did their job ???

Bermuda Bob:

Turner is a NBA-centric network.  Many college basketball fans, like myself, don’t pay any attention to the NBA, so they pair well-known personalities and believe it will pass.  I remember Marv Albert from the early Knicks days, and before his fascination for silk panties was revealed.  I respect that he was able to come back from that.

Many ACC fans know and severely dislike Lenny Elmore for his pompous declarations during the season.  Suffice to say that I wish he would hasten his retirement.

For some reason, they added Chris Webber to this team.  Chris was a member of the Michigan “Fab Five” that forever besmirched college basketball.  He is best remembered for his famous “Time Out” he called that Michigan didn’t have in the National Championship game against North Carolina.  To hear him speak about “smart play” is not only oxymoronic, it demonstrates that his media career is no better than his NBA career was.  He added nothing to a team where Marv Albert was forced to do a great deal of heavy lifting.

I was sorry to hear of Craig Sager’s unfortunate situation.  The guy they assigned to replace him, Lewis Johnson was a poor replacement and an insult to Craig’s wonderfully colourful ensembles.  Lewis, the Bow Tie, and goofy glasses, was an attempt to make himself the center of attention, and patently wrong when the game and the coaches are the news !!!

Rowan:

I like Marv Albert, he has a wonderful way of staying in the moment, whether it is capturing a hellacious dunk or a simple pick, he keeps the action flowing. Sadly Len Elmore is the complete opposite.  A basketball drone stuck in his own head.

Chris Webber is the guy who embodies the theory “wing it and if anyone calls you on it double down.”  

I can’ think of anything good or bad to say about Lewis Johnson which means he is probably good enough not to be distracting. I can’t say the same about his bow tie though.

Query #3

The West Region was assigned to Kevin Harlan, Reggie Miller, Dan Bonner, and Rachel Nichols.  

What were your impressions of this team ???

Bermuda Bob:

If one were bouncing between 4 channels on your TV, you might have mistaken Kevin Harland for Marv Albert, then you’d hear Dan Bonner chime in and know that you were in a much better place.  Both Kevin and Dan did a good job, even if they had to do their best to muzzle Reggie Miller, and his penchant to note how college basketball differs from the NBA.

We get it Reggie, you were a great NBA player, but you were commenting on the Big Dance.  I’m sorry you had a nice college career, but your team was nothing to write home about during your enrollment there.  So, remind me, please, why are you doing the Big Dance when you don’t go anywhere near college basketball the rest of the year ???

I understand that Rachel Nichols was once, and maybe still is, a viable commodity in the niche she is in.  I remember her for camping out at the gates of Brett Farve’s estate, but never having anything to do with college basketball.  As I just noted about Lewis Johnson, her physical demeanour could use some toning down, except maybe at Halloween.

Rowan:

All I know about this bunch is that Reggie Miller completely dominated the broadcast and that was a cardinal sin. Miller is one of the greatest basketball shooters who clearly spent a lot of time on his own in empty gyms perfecting his craft, and as a result is humorless and charm deficient. These could be forgiven as necessary sacrifices if he didn’t hold himself in such high esteem.

I always like sideline reporters because I depend on them for the little things or sadly, updates on injuries etc. Rachel Nichols is a professional who can be seen listening in at hurdles, or chasing injured players back to the locker room for the scoop. She gets the job done and her half time questions are searching but not too probing.

Query #4

The South Region was handled by Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson, Grant Hill, and Jim Nantz.  

How do you think they handled their assignment ???

Bermuda Bob:

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh, finally some sanity !!!  I was one of those who was so very deeply happy that Bill Raftery was rewarded with this spot.  He stayed loyal to the Big East, where he coached and was the voice of the conference for years.  Not only was he rewarded with the position, he was paired with one of the best players in Duke history who is both credible and well spoken.  I thanked the CBB Gods when I heard of this pairing.

Of course, they are joined by Jim Nantz, who I call in a complimentary vein as the “Omni-Commentator” for his wide breadth of sports he reports on.  From the Big Dance to the Masters to the Super Bowl, and everything in between, he always does a laudable job.

Tracy Wolfson is by far one of the best Sideline Reporters in memory.  She does not take herself too seriously, and her dress reflects that.  You can see how well she is received by the Head Coaches she interviews, by the questions she asks, and her knowledgeable interviews.

As a final note here, Duke fans certainly must feel blessed that this team was assigned to all of Duke’s games.  I, for one, was thankful and it thankfully carries thru to the Final Four.  CBS might have a terrible array of un-ESPN-like commentators, but that showed some “onions” by giving these guys the Final Four.  They will be rewarded “… with a kiss …” from college basketball fans, especially Duke fans.

Rowan:

Let me turn you over to Mark Titus for a little anecdote I found hilarious…

  • “Because Hill and Raftery share a broadcasting booth with Jim Nantz, Hill has to address Raftery so his partners know which one he’s talking to. But Raftery’s age — he’s 300 years older than Hill — is causing some confusion. No sane person would call someone who’s old enough to be his grandpa by his first name. Bob Knight’s firing set the precedent that calling an elder by just his last name will get you a lecture and your arm grabbed. And “Mr. Raftery” would sound ridiculous. So Hill went all in on “Coach,” even though Raftery hasn’t coached anyone in 34 years. I love this so much that I’m going to steal it. For the next month, I’m going to call anyone at least 20 years older than I am “Coach.” If it feels right, I just might make it my thing. Stay tuned.”

The broadcasting booth needs some new blood and Grant Hill is one of the younger guys coming through but he has a little Reggie Miller in him and at times can sound a little too scripted. Maybe he is intimidated by the talent around him because he works great with Kristen Ledlow on Inside the NBA. That’s OK as no one expects anyone to be perfect their first time.

Nantz and Raftery have been around so long they are the blue print of college basketball broadcasting. However I must point this out. That noise Raftery makes at the start of games can be very annoying when he is self conscious about it. A few times this past fortnight he has missed his beat and it made awkward air time. I get that it is his thing but when it starts getting distracting lose it.

Tracy Wolfson – see my comments regarding Rachel Nichols above. 

Query #5

There were people like Ian Eagle, Doug Gottlieb, Mike Gminski, Steve Smith, Dana Jacobson, and others.  

Did you have any favourites, or people who wish did not return next year ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

Mike Gminski is a cornerstone of the ACC Network, and I wish he got more exposure.   Steve Smith ought to shake Reggie Miller in those advertisements, because he is associated more with college basketball than the NBA.  He ought to pursue a place in the limelight with college basketball.  I enjoy both he and Mike there !!!

Ian Eagle is a voice that will never be mistaken.  He is knowledgeable, appropriate, and never puts himself above the game, unlike Doug Gottlieb.  Gottlieb will never be known as the deepest personality in sport, but you can bet on it that he will do his best to convince you otherwise.

Steve Lappas can alway be counted on for depth, verve, and that special aspect that a former coach adds to the mix.  He might not always be easy to listen to for a long period of time, but what you get is surely your money’s worth !!!

Suffice to say, that if I did not mention someone, then they didn’t impress me in any sense …

Lastly, Dana Jacobson, the hard partying former ESPN “Cold Pizza” co-host, was called on to do sideline coverage early on, and did it well.  Unfortunately, she was not favored by CBS, and replaced by, instead, Lewis Johnson to join the Marv Albert team.  Dana must be living somewhere around the middle of her 9 lives.

Rowan:

Probably Ian Eagle for the way he pronounces his name “Iron Eagle” which I find humourous. If someone told you to go and meet a guy called ‘Iron’ Eagle and he turned up, I would feel let down with such an unassuming man.

I have no time for Doug Gottlieb who probably thinks that he invented basketball. He has eased up on his Duke vitriol since Coach K cut him down, back in 2009.

I always have time for Mike Gminski not just because he went to Duke, and dominated. I like him because he has been calling basketball games for a long time, and without any gimmicks, which can get tired and annoying over time.

The following words will probably erase any credibility I ever had on this subject, but it is a crying shame that Dick Vital is not calling games in the tournament. He sets the standard for anecdotes and language in college basketball. He gets a bad rap for playing up to the leaders in the sport such as the top coaches, but that should not take away from his contribution to the sport. Terms like “Glue Guys,” “Diaper Dandies,” “PTP (Prime time Player),” “Blender,” “High Riser,” “MIA’er,” “Mr Pac Man” and “Trifecta.” Tell me you are not getting “goosebumps” hearing these !!! No ??? How about the following ???

“It’s Brick City USA baby!” 

“He is awesome baby with a Capital A!”

Who wouldn’t want to be described like this:

“He is super, scintillating and sensational, baby !!!” 

Query #6

The main CBS Studio Team is Greg Gumble, Steve Smith, Mateen Cleeves, Wally Szczerbiak and Seth Davis.  

The TBS Studio Team is Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Clark Kellogg.  

How did you think they handled their charges ??? 

Bermuda Bob:

When CBS was trying to keep the Big Dance and was bidding against ESPN, they needed someone who had the wide swath network exposure to match ESPN.  They turned to Turner, who already had a NBA presence.  Well, having 3 other networks in their stable was ideal on paper, but not for college basketball fans.

We listen to ESPN all season long, and because CBS and Turner did not want to bring in the best college basketball people, they spurned all the best and tried to pawn off NBA people on us.  Then, they threw in the bargain of Bleacher Report, who Turner had purchased.  Yes, the vast majority of NBA players-turned-Commentator once graced the campus of a university at one time, but that did not make them capable … Yes, I said capable … college basketball analysts !!!

In a perfect world, ESPN would do the Big Dance.  Imagine that, the quintessential sports network, who does nothing but sports, doing the best annual sporting event of the year.   But, alas Virginia, the world is not perfect, as CBS proves each year with their Big Dance coverage.

So, let’s take each studio individually …

One of the New York studios is moderated by Greg Gumble.  He, like Nantz, is a multi-sport personality.  As a moderator, he simply makes sure his corral of personalities are on time.  The other New York Studio is handled by Ernie Johnson of Turner’s NBA coverage.  Matt Weiner is a breath of fresh air in the Atlanta Studio early on, where they regularly hosted college basketball coaches.

The other studio personalities are led by:

Clark “Rymin’ Simon” Kellogg, whom I was glad got taken off of court-side coverage.  His knowledge and delivery is only surpassed by his voice, that sounds like a fluglehorn out of tune, or his poor imitation of Walt Frazier.  Hence, the nickname.

Seth Davis, who must feel like he’s in a bad dream each time he sits down, is an accomplished Journalist and Writer.  His knowledge of inside information gives him the most gravitas of anyone who imparts understanding in the CBS studio.

When CBS joined with Turner, and it’s NBA Studio Shows, they inherited Kenny Smith, a former North Carolina standout who refuses to say the name “Duke” – as if that’s so very mature – and Charles “The Round Mound of Rebound” Barkley.  To the youngsters amongst our readers, Charles was actually a grand NBA player, not just the ignoramus buffoon he portrays in commercials.  Unfortunately, as I have said before, putting a couple of NBA players in 3 piece suits is nothing more than lipstick on pigs.  At one point we discovered that not only could Charles not pronounce “Gonzaga,” he was clueless as to who their coach was.

On a positive note, CBS has added Mateen Cleeves, of Michigan State fame, and Wally Szczerbiak, of Miami of Ohio, to their Studio.  Both are instant favourites for me.  Mateen was a four-year graduate favourite of Coach Tom Izzo, and Wally graduated of the Richard T Farmer School of Business after being an undergraduate Marketing Major.  They are smart, well-spoken, and have plenty of gravitas for me.

Some day, I hope to grow up and not have to be subjected by the whims of a network merger, and be treated to an exceptional broadcast performance by the people who ought to be doing college basketball with the people we listen to all season long !!!

Rowan:

I spent the Half Time moments watching other games.

Editor’s Note:

For those you don’t know, Ro lives on London, and STILL, even with the time differential, watches as many games live the he can. Those he can’t see, are DVR’d.  

British TV adamantly refuses to televise American advertisements, so Ro sees nothing going on in the Studios, which might, in and of itself, make an interesting statement !!!

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