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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stern Lost The Combination In This (LOCK)out

Even though I like college basketball better, I do like the NBA, so I can't resist taking my turn among a million other people commenting on the lockout.

Even a little name dropping here, I have friends who were referees in NBA, a friend,  who has a son coaching a prominent team and a friend who has a son that is one of the rising stars in the league. (I guess in reality, that makes me old).

Bottom line, I do care and I also care about all the economics and consequences this lockout brings. People forget how much sports does for the economy.

I fully realize that neither owners, general managers, coaches and players are not in need of someone throwing a benefit dinner for them. I do worry about other people who are affected by this lockout, all the way from people who cover the league in the media, to someone who works at games as second job after a long day at their first job and in doing so, they have to in order to make ends meet. They will suffer.

While any third grader fully realizes that the owners have the upper hand and eventually the players will have to give in, I really do not care who is right and who is wrong, I just want NBA basketball.

However, I do have an opinion about one of the main characters in this tragic event.


David Stern has been the commissioner of the NBA for a long time. I don't know David Stern and I am sure he could care less about myself. But what I do know, being a student of sports business, he is overrated as a sports commissioner, unless of course people ask him and you would think he is the greatest commissioner of all time.

It is actually time for David Stern to step aside as the head of the NBA. He has run his course, his act has become tired and it is time for fresh ideas and thoughts.

Not to blame him, there is plenty of blame to go around, but how in the world could he let this lockout happen if he is such a great commissioner. Leaders lead and others just act like they are the greatest and many just soak it all in and say, David, your correct.

In the heyday years of the early and mid  90s, the NBA could have been governed by a computer. It was great times for every single business in the world and if you were not succeeding, there was something wrong. Then came the first decade of the 2000s, times have become as tough as they have almost ever been outside of the Great Depression and the NBA has struggled. Was the GREAT DAVID,  so great then?

Then in 2010-11, along comes the Miami Heat, the most polarizing team in sports history and things get good again. Ratings for TV go sky high, attendance increases and sponsorships start to come back. Once again DAVID you were not responsible, a guy named LeBron was, rightly or wrongly.

DAVID, you are also not responsible for saving the NBA back in your early days as commissioner as many have suggested.

After all, this is your second work stoppage/lockout/strike in the last 12 years by the NBA, when you were the leader. Most leaders with that record would get banished to the mail room. Wait a second, I have friends who work in the mail room, it might be too good to be banished too.

When you really go back and look at the history of the NBA Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar saved the NBA, directly and indirectly.

When Russell, felt dissed by Harlem Globetrotters owner Abe Saperstein and spurned his huge offer to join the Trotters  and instead went into the NBA draft in 1955, he made the NBA legitimate and changed the direction of the league forever, with his exciting and dominant play for the Boston Celtics.

Same thing in 1975, when Jabbar was set to leave the Milwaukie Bucks and join the Trotters for more money than he could ever make in the NBA, at the last minute he helped force a trade to the Lakers, at a time when the league was taking another big downward trend and the Lakers alone helped the NBA out of some very rough times and economic disaster. Can you say, SHOWTIME.

Too many people, stay too long, in too many jobs, especially when they are overrated and have completely lost their touch, if they ever had one.

David Stern as an NBA commissioner is a perfect example, if for nothing else this lockout is a complete joke and never should have happened and if you want to take credit for successes as Stern always seems to do, you sure as heck better take credit for failures.

To succeed in life, you have to be able to adapt to change, change in the NBA is long overdue when it comes to a commissioner. David Stern is a wealthy and rich man, he will always land on his feet, but it is time for the feet to land somewhere else besides the NBA office.

emails  always welcome at

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Small Should Not Eliminate The Hall

In the interest of west coast college basketball please allow myself to get a little provincial for a short time today. For informational purposes, I do live in Oregon.

Over the past several months in the state of Oregon, several prominent people and one really prominent Oregon business, the Portland Trailblazers have made a strong push and I might add rightfully so, to get legendary Blazer broadcaster Bill Schonley into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. Mr. Schonley is in the running this year for the Curt Gowdy Award, which annually selects a sportscaster for induction into the most prestigious honor anyone involved in the game of basketball can receive, hall of fame induction.

While Schonley would be a great choice, what many Oregonians and basketball people alike have missed, is that there is an Oregonian who deserves to be in the basketball hall of fame, ahead of Bill Schonley.

His name is DANNY MILES. Back in May, I documented Coach Miles history as basketball coach at Oregon Institute of Technology, in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Just a little recap, Mr. Miles will begin his 41st  season this year coaching the Owls. He is second all time in career wins for all college basketball coaches at 937. His OIT team won the NAIA national championship in both 2004 and 2008. His teams at OIT have 10 times won 30 games and 21 times have won 25 games. Miles is a member of both the NAIA and Oregon Sports Hall of Fame.

Mr. Miles will more than likely never be pushed by the national media to become a hall of fame member, he might not even get the support of the Oregon media or prominent people in the state, but he does have my support and many others who KNOW the game of basketball.

Being a coach in a small town, at small school and being NAIA, as compared to NCAA, should not hinder  a person from being in the basketball hall of fame. It is the person's record that should count and Coach Miles' record passes all the smell tests to become a hall of fame inductee, which quite frankly, I should not even have to be writing about, it should have happened by now. I challenge anyone to take a look at the list of basketball hall of fame inductees and dispute my claim.

As I have mentioned before, if Miles were on the east coast he would be revered, out here on the west coast he just keeps on winning basketball games and flies under the radar.

So for all the Oregonians and all  basketball people, it is great you are thinking of  Bill Schonley, but the push should have been Danny Miles first, Bill Schonley second,  when it comes to being a deserving member of the basketball hall of fame.

And while this might seem like an Oregon issue, it is not. It is an issue for all people who love basketball, the hall of fame is such an honor and deserving people like Danny Miles should never be FORGOTTEN.

Coach Miles for people who know your history and know about you, everyday you are a hall of famer, let's just make this official nationally.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Will These Dogs Ever Bark Again

West Coast college basketball really needs the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Washington Huskies to start playing basketball games again.

For now it is not going to happen and maybe more telling, he might not happen for a long, long time.

The last meeting between the Bulldogs and Huskies was 2007. At that time, the Zags had won 8 of the last 10 meetings, but dominance did not end the series.

What did end the series is the still simmering feud between head coaches Lorenzo Romar and Mark Few. It all started with the recruiting of Josh Heytvelt, as everyone knows who wound up at Gonzaga. The Huskies got in trouble over the recruiting and all fingers were pointed at Gonzaga head coach Mark Few, for turning the Huskies in to the NCAA.

Feuds happen all the time in college basketball, especially with the ever intense recruiting battles that go on each and every day.

But continuing feuds are bad for everyone and in this case it is all of college basketball that loses out. Without question Gonzaga and Washington are two of the top five basketball programs on the west coast. They both have national prominence almost every year and they live in a state that has a city, Seattle, that produces and will continue to produce some of the best high school basketball talent in the United States.

A recent proposal by the Huskies was to play a three game series and each year play the games at Key Arena. Not even close to a fair proposal, but to get this feud ended, it has to start somewhere. I have an even better proposal, which would bring in plenty of money, get this rivalry going again and is fair to both schools.

How about one game in Spokane, one game in Seattle and one game in Vancouver B.C. Don't kid yourself, there are plenty of great basketball fans in Canada, they might not even riot after the game and Canada continues to produce some very good players, as both Washington and Gonzaga rosters in the past can attest too.

At some point this bitter feud has to end and someone has to budge. Some say both schools don't need each other as opponents to be a success. What I say to that is that no two schools are bigger than the game, the game of basketball needs Gonzaga and Washington to play again and it is time for differences to be set aside and make it happen.

Both sides can continue to be selfish, deprive lots of people of enjoyment and great basketball, but in the long run all that brings is for both sides to look totally foolish to anyone and everyone who cares and there are plenty that do care this rivalry starts again, heated or not.

I am always amazed how people in sports do not look at the big picture, in this case they don't even look out the window and across the great state of Washington. It is time to settle the differences and take the high road. Don't hold your breath.

Monday, June 27, 2011

WWE, Not In My Arena

The game of basketball as we all know was invented by Dr. James Naismith. He for years thought it would enhance physical education in all schools. (With all the school cutbacks, wonder what he is thinking  today about physical education)?

I have a pretty strong feeling he never intended to take the EDUCATION part out of basketball. Let's call it like it is, the college game is becoming way too rough and it is at times ruining the ability of talented players to do their thing and move freely both with the ball and without it.

We all agree that no basketball game should a parade to the foul line. Heaven forbid, if you follow my blog on a daily basis the last thing we want during regulation play is a bunch of inept free throw shooters as in the case in today's game,  going to the line, with the exception of the second overtime, as I have proposed. Heck we have enough goofy fans yelling at every game, "hey ref,  let em play".

What we do need is some enforcement from game referees on calling the game the way it is suppose to be called and was intended to be called. Rough play has no part in the game of basketball. I do not buy the argument that the game has had a natural gravitation towards rougher play because the players are bigger and stronger. That to me is the ultimate cop-out.

I also will always defend referees for the most part as they do a pretty good job night in and night out, in what is the toughest game in my opinion to officiate. What I can't defend is the fact that there is a lack of consistency in the way games are called and more importantly in talking to many basketball referees there is a lack of referees being trained properly,  in the college game today. Many college referees today are begging for more training and it is often ignored by respective conferences , for what reason, it is really hard to figure out.

Once again if you read this blog daily or for the first time readers, I like to offer solutions.

1. All teams not only play a large amount of pre-season games, but they also have before play even begins, many scrimmages. Simple message from officials working these games, we are going to clean up rough play and this time, WE MEAN IT.

2. Referees throughout the year should have plays sent to them that shows the difference between rough play and what is great defense or good rebounding position. Repeating,  constant training of officials is lacking in the college game today and if an official is resistant to change, he needs his schedule cut back until he can conform to what he is being told to do.

3. I love basketball coaches, they have such a positive influence on shaping the lives of young people today, it is a story that is never told enough. Basketball coaches do have too much influence on officiating, they get too involved in how the game is called and they are too involved in who calls their games. Let the process of who is a good official and who is not,  be left up to experts, i.e. evaluators, trainers, supervisors. Coaches should coach and referees should referee, plain and simple.

This year,  for all its many faults,  the NBA did a great job on cracking down early on players complaining about calls. Although at times the policy became a little too inconsistent and as the season wore on a little more lax in how referees handled complaining, it for the most part worked and it among many fans made the games much more enjoyable not seeing the constant bickering.

College basketball, it is ok to copy what works. Start enforcing rough play from the get-go of the season's opening tip-off and do not back down, until players and coaches learn that your serious about cleaning up rough play. Making it a point of emphasis, does not cut it anymore in basketball. Points of emphasis only work if they are carried out, not as they are at present, listened too and then disregarded and laughed at by many.

Every year I hear about how we are going to clean up the rough play in college basketball and every year once the season begins it becomes an after thought. NCAA and its conferences, put some teeth in curbing rough play. It is time that everyone comes to the party and the college game will be much better for it. Rough play will soon ruin college basketball, but it is never too late do something about it. It takes training and guts to enforce rules.

emails to

Sunday, June 26, 2011

From Orange Express To Mere Lemons

It hard to believe it has been 30 years since the great Oregon State Beaver basketball team of the 1980-81 season.

Known as the "Orange Express", the Beavers not only captivated the west coast, but the nation that year, going 26-2, being the number one ranked team in every poll you can think of for 25 straight weeks and then stunning everyone,  by losing to Kansas State in first round of the NCAA tournament. A horrible ending to a great regular season.

And speaking of horrible, that is exactly what the Beavers have been almost year in and year out, since the retirement of Ralph Miller in 1989. Miller was not only a great winning coach in his 18 years at Oregon State, but he also thrilled all Oregonians in his tenure,  by seeming to get almost every year,  the top high school players in the Beaver State, to join his Beavers.

Since the Ralph Miller days at Oregon State, starting in 1990, the Beavers have had six coaches, including present coach Craig Robinson, not one of those coaches having a winning record. Hard times to say the least in Corvallis, of which nothing was harder than the short stint of  Kevin Mouton, who replaced Jay John in the middle of season and painfully the Beavers closed out the year going 0-13 under the direction of Mouton.

Hard times might not even come close to describing the Beavers in basketball since 1990. Telling is the fact despite the awful times in the last 20 years, Oregon State still has the 16th winningest all- time program in NCAA history, despite the fact the last appearance for the Beavers the 'big dance' was 1990.

Fast forward, to 2008, the first year of present coach Craig Robinson and expectations became high again as a new coach brings a fresh start and hopefully changes for the better.

I fully realize you have never heard this before, but Robinson is the brother-in-law of the President of the United States. To be fair we should not judge his coaching on that, but also to be fair, it should be a HUGE advantage to him when it comes to recruiting. We would be foolish to realize a person should not  capitalize on the fact he is very close to the President of the United States, anyone of us would take full advantage of that, but with that you would also think it might transcend onto some success in that person's  profession, in this case a head coach at a Pac-12 school.

Robinson begins his fourth year on the gorgeous Oregon State campus in the 2011-12 season and it is time for the Beavers to step up. Hopes and dreams should no longer be acceptable. Robinson also needs to take a hard look at his offense. He loves the Princeton system, but with the players he has and their athleticism, the Beavers need to speed up, it is that simple. Kids today are not into running the 35 second clock down to 32 seconds on almost every offensive play.

Robinson by almost all accounts is a nice person. He has three players on his team, that I think have the potential to be Pac-12 stars in Jared Cunningham, Chris Brown and Devon Collier, but paper only looks good when you write on it. I actually do think that Coach Robinson can bring the Beavers back to some success in basketball, the big "IF" is that in his fourth year, it is time to PROVE it.

In Corvallis, even though the EXPRESS is gone,  there still is plenty of ORANGE in Gill Coliseum, sadly that orange is all the seats that are painted that color and have no one sitting in them the during basketball games. Will the glory days of Oregon State basketball ever return? I guess it is possible, but for it to happen no longer can continual coaching changes be the answer and renewed hope, the answer comes from producing right now and getting the mojo back. One can only HOPE.

emails to

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Door Is Open

I write this column today, fully knowing that the rule changes for NCAA basketball for 2011-12 season are fully in place, but it is always interesting and fun to look back what could have happened.

This examination is even more important to look at since the it appears the lockout/strike of NBA players will last much longer than anticipated and like the last labor event in the NBA, college basketball will pick up many new fans.

While college basketball still is very popular, I do agree with some critics that the game has become stagnant. The Butler-Connecticut championship game was almost unwatchable this past season, but one game should not make people jump and change things, it is the overall pattern of college basketball in the past three years, that should bring about change.

Some basics could easily make the college game better, more fun to watch and bring in new fans, NBA or no NBA.

1. Reduce the shot clock down from 35 seconds to 29 seconds. Jazz the change up a little bit, don't go to the standard oh we will reduce it down by five seconds, 29 seconds has ring to it and is plenty of time for any team to get  a quality shot off. The game needs to speed up and this is a simple fix.

2. Plain and simple, four full time outs per half(no more each team gets x-amount of time outs per half), plus one 30 second time out of which either team could use, no exceptions. These time outs would come the first dead ball under the 16:00,12:00,8:00,4:00 minute marks. It would more than satisfy the need for a coach to develop strategy and it meets the needs of the media. College basketball has too many time outs at present, time outs in many cases ruin the flow of a good game and it for sure would make the last two minutes of the game more exciting. As much respect as I have for coaches, they have over-coached the time out rules, it is literally "time" for a drastic change. For an injured player, that is an officials' time out, does not count in the basic time out rules and the player must leave the game and can only come back in on the first dead ball.

3. Bring back pre-game dunking. Dunking is and always will be a great part of basketball. Make the pre-game rules the same as during the game, if a player hangs on the rim, technical foul. Schools would sell more merchandise, more concessions, just by people getting there early to see the warmups, plus more kids, the future fans of the game,  would love to come to games, just to watch the pre-game. We can't lose a generation of young fans, as baseball seems to have done.

If you are the decision makers, you just can't sit back and think things will always be the same. Sports that succeed in the long run adapt to change and more importantly they see the need for change when it becomes obvious. The above changes might not seem that important to some, but to keep the college game as great as it needs to be, these changes are no-brainers.


Thursday, June 23, 2011


CRAWFACTS is news, notes, info and whatever you want to call it. Enjoy.

UCLA---In the last CRAWFACTS, I wrote about Ben Howland adding famous AAU coach Korey McCray to his staff and how McCray could have an immediate impact on the Bruins' recruiting. My prediction did not take long to be true, as on Monday the Bruins received a commitment from Jordan Adams, by almost all accounts one of the top 100 players in the country out of the class of 2012. Adams plays for Oak Hill Academy and also had been part of McCray's highly successful AAU team, the Atlanta Celtics, out of Adams' home town of Atlanta. Of course the big question will be is if Shaq Goodwin, a teammate of Adams' on Celtics and one of the top five players in the class of 2012, will follow Adams to Westwood, as many think he will indeed do.

USGA---Of course the reaction to my thoughts on the USGA and where they should play future U.S. Opens, as well why Pumpkin Ridge would have been a much better site for the 2015 Open, than Chambers Bay drew an overwhelming reaction. (Perhaps, with the responses I got, I should stick to golf and not write about basketball, but that is not going to happen). Of course any mention that Chambers Bay is not a good a good U.S. Open site, hit a major nerve with Washingtonians, as expected and any mention of Pumpkin Ridge as a great site hit a home run with Oregonians. The rest of the great 48 also weighed in, most people loving the idea of spreading the Open out to all 50 states in the next 50 years, so I thank everyone for their support of my GREAT idea. One thing is for sure, all the flimsy excuses that USGA staffers use as to why Pumpkin Ridge is not a good site for to host the U.S. Open are totally unfounded and better yet, just not TRUE. (The week of the British Open in July, I plan to write about this even more, so please come back at that time.)

Nicknames---With the official opening for business of the Pac-12 on July 1st, 10 out of the 12 Pac-12 teams will have animal nicknames, the two exceptions being Utah Utes and Arizona State Sun Devils. Utes is named after a Native American tribe with its roots being Utah. Very nice. Sun Devils gets a little more complicated on how it came about and some of the reasons behind it. Sun Devil is some kind of weather event, similar to a dust bowl or whirlwind, which I actually do not see too much and thankfully avoid. Sparky the Arizona State Sun Devil, was created by famous Disney artist, Birk Anthony back in the 1940s and some even have gone as far as to say he wanted Sparky to look somewhat like the great Walt Disney in facial features. I think from here on out, I will avoid talking about nicknames and mascots, although if you look it up, there is a mascot hall of fame.

Referees---I have learned that several Big Sky men's coaches are becoming increasingly frustrated with the officiating they get during league play, as opposed to the referees they receive during pre-season play. In fairness, during pre-season, games are played on various different days of the week, so the pool to choose officials expands. During the season for the most part, games are played on Thursday-Saturday, the same nights that both the Pac-12 and West Coast Conference choose to play, along with many times the Western Athletic Conference. Unfortunately the Big Sky is last on the pecking order for where officials choose to work games and is also the lowest in pay of the conferences mentioned above, so they are not going to get the best choice of referees available. I have long thought the Big Sky, should play a league schedule with games on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoon games are popular in most of the country and if you want to consider academics, cost and anything else, a Friday-Sunday schedule makes lots of sense. Considering the it is the Big Sky, I am not holding my breath on changes.

Odds and Ends---Speaking of the Utah Utes, they quite frankly will not be very good next year in basketball under new coach Larry Krystowiak, but there is some hope on the horizon for 2012-13, when two pretty good transfers the Utes have picked up will be eligible to play. Glen Dean out of the Seattle area and a transfer from Eastern Washington is a nice player and another player who starred at Rainier Beach high in the Seattle area and then went on to LSU, Aaron Dotson, has decided to transfer to Utah and both will be eligible to play in 2012. While these two players will not alone propel the Utes to upper division in the Pac-12, they will help in the rebuilding process.

Speaking of the Seattle area, if Lorenzo Romar does leave the Huskies for the Minnesota Timberwolves head coaching position as he is being considered for, look for the usual suspects to be candidates to replace him. I have not alway jumped on the Mark Few bandwagon, but I would think at some point he might leave Gonzaga and this would be a natural move. Cameron Dollar, head coach at Seattle U. would also be a candidate, being an assistant for Romar, before taking the Redhawks job. It might not be unrealistic as well to think of Ken Bone, now at Washington State to be in the mix, with his Seattle area ties and being another former assistant for Romar, it happened before when Marv Harshman went from WSU to the Huskies. The real surprise candidate and a good fit would be Kevin Stallings out of Vanderbilt, who has ties to the present Husky AD and by most standards has done a great job at Vanderbilt.

My take is that if Romar were offered the Timberwolves job he would jump at the chance and also the Washington job is a position that would be highly coveted by many top coaches as the Puget Sound area is ripe with high school basketball talent and will only get better.

emails to

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Will Hornets Still Be Stuck In Mud

Unlike other sports fans, I am not really a strong fan of any specific sports teams.

I love sports and actually love the business of sports even more.

For new readers and old readers, it is rather evident I do love basketball and have grown more and more each year of my life,  to love college basketball.

Without being a fan, there are some teams I just root for, for reasons sometimes that are complex and sometimes easy to explain.

The Sacramento Hornets men's basketball team is one team as of late that I root for.

It is not even the fact that I love Sacramento as a city, it has friendly people, the way they have supported the losing ways of the Kings as of late is tremendous and the whole area does a great job of supplying our nation with great food.

It is the fact that I just like their head coach Brian Katz. I have never met him, never conversed with him and might never get the chance too.

What I like about Katz is his demeanor on the sidelines during a game and the way he coaches. He carries himself as well as any college coach in the game today with the way he treats his players, the way he treats referees and the way he treats fans and the media.

I don't buy this crap that it is always about wins-losses or the fact you have to act like a jerk to be a good coach. In his three years at Sacramento State, Katz does not have a stellar record, but things do seem to be improving, as each year he has won more conference games than the previous season and last year lost eight games by a total of six points or less.

This year the Hornets have a nice recruiting class coming in and I do feel they are ready to take a major leap in the Big Sky standings, the league at least on paper appears to be as wide open as it has been in many years.

It will be a pivotal year for Katz, being the fourth of what is thought to be a five year contract. In this day and age of quick changes and it is all about the bottom line, patience sometimes does not prevail like it should.

Brian Katz to myself appears to be a person who conducts himself the way we expect people to conduct themselves in life. That is why I am rooting for a successful Hornet basketball season and I will be watching the progress for sure.

Sometimes my greatest joy in writing this blog is writing about people, players and teams in the Big Sky. The Big Sky has some really good coaches and the league plays a good band of basketball, but puzzling always is that the Big Sky office seems to treat basketball as an after thought and does a horrible job marketing the sport. Example, the post season play-offs in the Big Sky are as archaic as any play-offs in all NCAA sports. I am not sure the Big Sky office even knows that we landed on the moon or that Lyndon Johnson is not the President.

So Brian Katz, wishing you a great basketball season and Big Sky office wishing you to come out of your sleepy ways.

emails to

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Will This ROAD Have Curves

Although it is basically ceremonial, it still will be exciting for the Pac-10 to become the Pac-12 officially on July 1st. 

It will be the first expansion of the Pac-10, since 1978, when it was then the Pac-8 and brought into the conference, two great universities, Arizona State and Arizona.

Of course the newcomers for 2011, will be Utah and Colorado, I would have preferred Texas and BYU, which will not happen for awhile, but at least with Colorado it brings in a nice new TV market in the Denver area.

While football will get the immediate attention, I thought it would be interesting to look at what the Pac-12 basketball teams will face on the road, when visiting the new schools and while it is the players that will make the difference, it might be fun now to take a look at the basketball arenas of the two schools.

For some reason, current Pac-10 teams have had very little experience playing on the road against Utah and Colorado as they never seem to have scheduled these two schools for pre-season games for whatever reason.

On paper, Colorado appears to have the best basketball team of the two new additions, but it does not have the best arena.

The Buffalos, play in the Coors Event Center, which first opened in 1979 and took on its name in 1990 when the Coors Brewing Company gave the school, $5,000,000 in what we call today a naming rights deal. The arena seats 11,000, has very little history to speak about and in my mind kind of fits in with the dull arenas we see in the Pac-10 today, outside of the new Matthew Knight Arena at Oregon. Of course we all know dull can change to sharp with a ongoing successful basketball program, something Colorado has lacked, but has a chance to change with the coaching of Tad Boyle, one of the rising stars of the coaching ranks in NCAA basketball.

On the other hand, history abounds in the Jon M. Huntsman Center, home arena of the Utah Utes. (By the way, Mr. Huntsman's son, Jon M. Huntsman Jr. just announced today he is running for President on the Republican Side, but please do not apply the Fairness Doctrine to Craw's Corner).

While the Utes who use to be pretty good in basketball, but have fallen on hard times as of late, they still will have the largest arena in the Pac-12, seating just over 15,000 people and it will always show good on TV, despite being built in 1969, it has retained a charming atmosphere for basketball.

The Jon M. Huntsman Center will forever be remember as the site of the 1979 NCAA championship game(yes they did not alway play the Final Four in these lousy dome stadiums) between Indiana State and Michigan State, featuring the great battle between Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. 

A game which is still talked about today and still has the great distinction of having the largest TV audience ever to WATCH a college basketball game. (That is a record, which boggles the mind when you thing about it).

In addition, history also will tell you that the first performer ever to perform in the Huntsman Center was none other the great Bill Cosby, still great and still going strong today.

Both of these new/old arenas to the Pac-12 will neither  be scary to play in, nor will they be bad places to visit for opposing teams, I still wish I would be writing about Texas and BYU, but you know what? I not sure that any of the powers that be care, which is always fine with me.

emails to

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Honeycomb Could Sting As Well

The state of Idaho and more specifically the Idaho Vandals have not seen anything like him since and might never see anything like him in the future.

Gus Johnson is the greatest player ever in Idaho Vandal history. He only played for one year at Idaho, 1962-63, but what a year it was. Johnson averaged 19 points and 20 rebounds per game during the season and lead the Vandals to a 20-6 record. His team,  also that season went 4-0 against Oregon and 4-1 against, Washington State,  two of their bitter rivals at that time. (Yes they did play four and five times against each other, to save travel costs).

Despite the fact it lasted only one year, it was truly an amazing time in Idaho Vandal basketball history. The team played in 3,500 seat Memorial Gym , but when I contacted a local, who I have known for some time last week,  he assured me that the stories are true, for every home game during the season, there were easily 4,500 people in the arena by game time and often people would line up three days in advance just to get in. (My friend also wanted me to know the Fire Marshall, loved the Vandals).

Johnson was so good that his coach Joe Cipriano named him "The Honeycomb", because of his sweet play on the court. Johnson was also beloved in Moscow, Idaho, there still to this day many photos of him hanging on the walls of local businesses. There is still something very romantic about small towns and their basketball heros, no matter what the level of play.

If you ask NBA people today,  as I have and even retired referees, although "Dr. J" is considered to be the greatest dunker of all time, they will tell you that Gus Johnson was on a par or even greater than Erving when it came to dunking the basketball.  Heck, he even broke three backboards in his NBA playing career during games.

In that career, Johnson played 11 professional seasons, most notably with the Baltimore Bullets, where ha had a stellar career and even went on to win an ABA championship with the Indiana Pacers in 1973. The Bullets retired Johnson's jersey in 1986 and Idaho retired his jersey in 1987 and inducted him into their first ever Hall of Fame class in 2007. Not to mention, you have to be awfully good to be elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass., of which Johnson attained in 2010, 23 years after his death in 1987.

With the NBA draft coming up this Thursday, it is also interesting to think about how Johnson was drafted in the 1963 NBA draft. He was taken as the 10th overall pick in the SECOND ROUND, yes the 10th pick in those days was in the second round, oh how times as have changed.

It is also worth noting that five years after that 1963 draft, Lakers general manager at the time of the draft, Lou Mohs,  admitted he blew it by taking Roger Strickland as the 7th overall pick rather than Johnson. He told several people, if he would have taken Johnson, the Lakers would have had several more championship banners hanging from their rafters. Mohs was an interesting character and was brought in to run the Lakers when owner Bob Short moved the team from Minneapolis in 1960. Despite being close to Idaho, he never made an attempt to see Johnson play in college, but to Mohs' credit he did a great job of running the Lakers in his tenure as their GM.

It is easy for many people who don't understand the game of basketball to sit back and say that Gus Johnson would just be an average player in today's game. WRONG. Gus Johnson would be a super-star on any team in the league on any day, any year and anytime in the future, he was more than good.

Too bad the Idaho Vandals only got him for one season, but in Moscow, Idaho,  it for sure was a season of JOY.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

This COURT Should Not Be In Session

On December 5th, 2011 St John's will travel to Detroit Mercy to play the Titans. (A college basketball match-up I have been lobbying to see for years).

December 5th will also mark the 32nd anniversary of Dick Vitale being with ESPN and he will be on the national broadcast that night from Detroit.

Dick Vitale is without question a basketball icon, a Hall of Famer. As for TV, he still is the most recognizable college basketball figure in the game today. His enthusiasm for the game is unmatched and he is loved by many, especially the students,  wherever he travels to do games on ESPN.

Is he the best national college basketball analyst? No he is not, Jimmy Dykes of ESPN has moved into that slot, he brings it every game and he knows the game and players,  like none other.(Dan Belluomini is the best of all time, he just never chose a national path). Vitale is still good, he has slipped a little in recent years, it happens. He continues to be a person who greets everyone the same and always has time for the little people, when he goes to game as a spectator he neither seeks attention or wants the attention, he is for real and thus his popularity continues to high with fans, players and coaches. He has earned his respect not only professionally, but as fine human being.

What Dick Vitale has not earned is the fact that on December 5th, Detroit Mercy will honor Vitale by naming its basketball court, Dick Vitale Court at Calihan Hall. Being a prominent national figure in the game does not merit having a basketball court named after you, especially in this case. Detroit Mercy did not think this one out.

Dick Vitale coached at Detroit Mercy from 1973-77. He did a respectable job, winning 78 games and losing 37, not Hall of Fame coaching numbers, but a record most coaches would die for. But since when does winning 78 games at one school, let alone the fact that Vitale's time at Detroit Mercy ended his college coaching career and after short stint with the Detroit Pistons, his ESPN career began. 78 college coaching career wins ...... no way does that merit naming a court after you.

There is no arguing that Dick Vitale is great for college basketball, is a great person and deserves every bit of attention he gets. But naming basketball courts should be reserved for someone who has done something really SPECIAL for that school, not just something special nationally. Longevity at the school should count as well, think about it, it has been 34 years since Vitale coached at Detroit Mercy.

Dick Vitale deserves almost every award he has either gotten or what will happen in the future. But for sure one honor that he does NOT deserve is having a basketball court named after him at a school he had 78 career wins, he only coached at for only four years and has never had much of an association with the school since he left.

Honors, awards, naming of places should be SPECIAL, have lots of meaning and be reserved  specifically for someone who has contributed not only through success, but also YEARS of service to the school, organization or business. In this case Dick Vitale does not fit the criteria and thus on this verdict about Detroit Mercy's COURT, they should plead guilty as charged.

emails to crawscorner@gmail. com


Friday, June 17, 2011

Craw's Corner Bonus Edition/On This One They Goofed Big Time

I love the military and everything they do for us in this great country. As a matter of fact, when it is feasible, I walk up to men and women and thank them for their service to our country. The smile I get back is worth it.

I also love ESPN, to me no one else does college basketball like they do, while all networks do a superb job of covering college basketball, ESPN to myself is just a little bit better, both with their production and studio shows.

I also have great respect for November 11th, when we honor our military with Veteran's Day. How cool is it this year, 11-11-11.

In honor of Veteran's Day this year, ESPN will broadcast a game live from the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, from San Diego harbor. It will be quite a spectacle, the seating will be for 7,000 people, it will be outdoors and who knows even Phil Mickelson in his hometown,  might be the guest announcer,  to be an expert on wind conditions. This has all the makings of a very special broadcast, on a very important day. (For the record as of this writing it is 99 percent chance this game will be on the deck of the USS Carl Vinson, of course if you have been following the news, the USS Carl Vinson was the carrier that dumped Osama Bin Laden's body into the ocean for burial. Kind of eerie, but by military scheduling, it makes this the ship, the available ship that can handle this type of game.)

Oh, can't forget the participants, Michigan St. versus North Carolina, a rematch of the 2009 national championship game. Fine teams always, probably a competitive game.

But if for just a second can I take the patriotism out and key match-up element out?


It is not a complaint, it just a fact, west coast basketball once again gets left in the dust at time when there is no good reason to do so.

1. San Diego State, won 34 games last year and could have even a better team this year. Why were they not invited. Let alone this game is being played in the town of San Diego, with its awesome military history where our men and women are honored and revered every day.

2. Why was Arizona not invited. As documented in previous blogs, perhaps the best recruiting class in the country coming in and a potential super star coach, the Wildcats can compete with most anybody and could even win the national title this year or next.

3. Why not the second half of the doubleheader, Air Force versus Navy? Better yet, why with such a great venue, not a doubleheader?

4. How about the Washington Huskies? Always exciting, great brand of ball and he is not only an outstanding coach, but Lorenzo Romar just happens to be African-American coach. So many great African-Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in our military,  it would be even more of a special tribute.

5. Or one more, how about another west coast team like the Oregon Ducks playing in this event? Can you imagine the uniforms for this special day that Uncle Phil and his Nike staff could have come up with for this special day and special game.

North Carolina and Michigan State are TV ratings teams, but considering the importance of this day and the setting on a military ship outdoors, this game will draw a huge rating even if the Washington Generals were playing Cal Tech (the two biggest losing teams in all of basketball), plus you can be assured we will see plenty of the Spartans and Tar Heels during the year and finally, unless I am missing something these two chosen schools have no greater of a significant military history, than other college and universities in this great country. (I do realize this has been reported the idea for this came from Michigan State, great idea, but it does take two teams to play a game and in this case it should have been four teams.)

As I always try to bring fairness, scheduling always is an issue, but I do know college basketball and I think I have given the promoters of this event, Morale Entertainment Company, some pretty good choices above, which easily could have been made.

The day and meaning of the day, far outweigh the teams playing, but it would be remiss on my part not to at least bring to the attention,  that once again west coast college basketball gets a slap in the face and left in the dust. Morale Entertainment Company and Michigan State, hats off for bringing this idea forward, but hats stepped on for your choice of teams, you BLEW THIS ONE.

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The BEAT Goes On

Greg Hansen is the sports columnist for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson.

He is one of my favorite newspaper columnists in the entire country. You can just tell he loves his job, he brings it everyday and he is really, really good at his job.

It has always intrigued me how a columnist in an area that has over 1,000,000 people, has no major league team, but has one team that is in the spotlight year around, the Arizona Wildcats basketball team,  works their craft.

So instead of continuing to wonder, I reached out to Greg Hansen recently and he was kind enough to communicate back.

Arizona basketball in the last 20 years for the most part has not only had major national prominence, but has been the dominate program in the west when it comes college basketball, no one even close.

An obvious question to Hansen, with all the star power of Arizona basketball over the years, who is the best all time Arizona Wildcat player. Without question he answers Sean Elliott. Hansen backs that up with the fact he is a local guy, two time all-american, national player of the year in 1989 and goes on to say if he had not come along in Lute Olson's third year  at Arizona in 1985, there might not have been no final fours, no long run of Pac-10 titles, no ability to recruit NBA type players year in and out. In addtion to the fact,  Hansen calls Elliott the best clutch player the Wildcats have ever had, no contest. High praise, from someone who has watched Arizona basketball since 1981.

Hansen also has high praise for Sean Miller, the present coach of the Wildcats. He likes the job is doing, but like a lot of other people wonders how long he might be at Arizona, noting Miller is an east coast guy and almost every year there is going to be great jobs come open that will for sure tempt Miller. But the best compliment Greg Hansen gives Sean Miller is that as it stands now, he could be on the Lute Olson level in a hurry, with his ability not only to game coach, but to recruit top players to Tucson.

Is another national championship in the future for Arizona with Miller at the helm and great recruits flocking to the school? Hansen thinks that with the incoming recruiting class, 2012-13 might be the year for the Wildcats to make another run for a national title and at the very least to be at the top of the mix.

So does interest in Arizona Wildcat basketball every wane in the greater Tucson area? According to Hansen, fans can never get enough facts and information, it never stops, even in the days following the retirement of Lute Olson and some down years and now with Miller leading the Cats back to the top, the interest never ceases and readers can never get enough information on Arizona hoops.

It is only fair when you communicate an outstanding columnist to ask how to they stay on top of things each day. Hansen says most writers have a thirst each day for new and fresh information which drives their work and allows you not to be lapped by everyone else and today that applied more than ever,  with the abundance of web writers and bloggers.

For some reason,  reading Greg Hansen all these years, I have a good feeling not too many people as good a columnist as he is, are ever going to lap Greg Hansen.

By the way if you want to read Greg Hansen's columns, you can go to and even better yet, with summer coming and people looking for good books to read, Greg Hansen's book,  "Hustling to beat deadline" is an outstanding book and if you like sports, a must read.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Craw's Corner Bonus Edition/USGA Please

For those of you who read this blog on a daily basis, 99 percent of the time I am going to write about college basketball, but when there is a big sporting event on the horizon, please allow to share some thoughts. College basketball will always be my focal point, rest assured. But.........

Tomorrow starts the great four days of the U.S. Open Golf Championship. It will be played this year at Congressional Country Club, outside of Washington, D.C. It is always a pressured packed tournament, par or just below or above is usually the winning score and it is fun to watch both in person and on TV.

The U.S. Open is put on by the United State Golf Association. When I have covered their events as a member of the media, I have always been impressed. Nice people and well organized. They treat people with class.

But what I don't get about the USGA, is their selection of golf courses to host the U.S. Open. Like lots of things in sports, the West gets cheated when it comes to courses hosting these events. Yes I do know that it has been played at Pebble Beach, Torrey Pines and the Olympic Club in California. One great course, one average course and one above average course, I might even be a little too polite here, but I have friends in California.

In 2015, the U.S. Open will come to the great Northwest, when Chambers Bay, outside of Tacoma, Washington hosts the event. Here is where I get a little steamed. Chambers Bay is about five years old, it did host the U.S Amateur in 2010, but for someone like myself who knows the game, it is an average golf course at best, which just happens to have great views. And get this, it has yet to have a permanent clubhouse, some say the clubhouse it is in the works, others say it will NEVER happen. Actually it will be kind of neat to see Tiger Woods changing his shoes in the parking lot. Better yet, will they even be Nikes at that time? Just kidding Phil.

Even sadder, Chambers Bay is not even in one of the top ten golf courses in the greater Seattle/Tacoma area and maybe more telling if the USGA would have really been thinking about quality golf courses in the Northwest, then why on earth did they bypass Oregon and more specifically Pumpkin Ridge (Ghost Creek), Crosswater and Eugene Country Club. It is not even arguable what these three great golf courses bring to the table, especially Pumpkin Ridge and especially compared to Chambers Bay. Politics within the UGSA shamefully played a big part in this poor decision.

Ok, ok, enough complaining, but fair is fair and some decisions although already made, still deserve to be debated.

Now for the good part, if the USGA really cares about the game and more importantly, the future of a game like golf,  that at present,  needs a big shot in the arm, why not do this.

I think the U.S. Open is scheduled out through 2020 or close to that year. How about as of right NOW make this grand announcement, beginning in 2021, we have decided each of our great 50 states for the next 50 years will get the U.S. Open. I can assure you there is at least one golf course in every state that is worthy of hosting the U.S. Open. Besides it being the right thing to do, can you imagine the excitement it would bring to a state,  with the USGA announcing their selection on national TV five years in advance, or stories people could tell for years about their own state having hosted the U.S. Open.

Besides the talked about practical part, the business side of this is enormous. If it ever happened, I would like to have 1/10 of one percent of that economy. While the USGA is made up of fine and classy people, it has never been known for outside the box thinking, this could change its whole culture. There are probably 35 states out of the 50, which have never hosted a U.S. Open. How about collecting the 50 state U.S. Open coins, or a hat from every course or better yet a ball marker. (I hope that would not ruin my amateur status.)

By the way, marking the calendar right now for 2030 and Johnny Miller saying it is great to be here in Fairbanks, Alaska, where darkness will never interfere with any play-off or even better, today Roger Maltbie took a tour of Mt. Rushmore before play began. Not to worry, these two guys are ageless, so they will still be working for NBC 29 years from now.

Darn it, the alarm clock just woke me up, but sometimes dreams do come true. This one should.


CRAWFACTS is news, notes, items, just lots of tidbits that may or may not interest you. Enjoy.

Seattle U.---I have written lots about the Redhawks getting into the West Coast Conference. At least for awhile, that will not happen as the Redhawks have accepted admission into the Western Athletic Conference beginning in 2012-13. While it helps to belong to a conference, this is NOT the ideal move for  Seattle. The ideal move would have been to join the WCC, a league which does not play football and has schools which fit in mode of what Seattle U. does both academically and athletically.

You can't blame the Redhawks however, as in 2012-13 after sitting out the NCAA mandatory probation period for teams moving up from D-2 to D-1, they will be eligible in all sports for post season play, they had to land somewhere. For the life of me, I can never figure out why Gonzaga and the University of Portland lead the stonewalling of the Seattle joining the WCC. After all,  it would be HORRIBLE to have a school in your league which is located in one of the most beautiful cities in all the world, is in the 13 largest TV market in the United States, has an average home attendance for men's basketball that  exceeds every school in the WCC, except Gonzaga and has to take a backseat  to no one academically in the WCC. Good luck in the WAC and shame on you WCC.

Jim Les---Time will tell, but as I have written about,  the most successful coaching hire in D-1 basketball this past season was the hiring of Jim Les at UC Davis, of the Big West. In a weak league, Les will succeed and get the Aggies to the top. He is off to a great start in recruiting,  by landing Utah's Mr. Basketball, Tyrell Corbin. If the name rings a bell, Tyrell is the son of Utah Jazz head coach, Tyrone Corbin.

I have said for years that UC Davis is a sleeping giant in west coast basketball and now it is up to Jim Les to prove me right.

Mick Durham---Marvin Menzies, head coach at New Mexico State lost a key member of his staff this past week when, Mick Durham accepted the head coaching job at D-2 Alaska Fairbanks, a member of the GNAC conference. Durham has been at Menzies' side for the last three years and the program has had a nice run in the Western Athletic Conference. Durham is one of the really good guys in coaching and he will do a nice job, in a really strong basketball conference.

Chaminade--- The Silverswords usually only get on the map in college basketball, when they play the host role in what is the best college basketball tournament on TV, the Maui Invitational. Chaminade is a member of the D-2, Pac-West Conference, but at times over the years have played really competitive in the Maui Invitational against what is also always the best field of any of the preseason tourneys, last year they beat Oklahoma in the tourney.

But for now, the news coming out of Chaminade is related in the past month they now have had three head basketball coaches. Last year's coach Matt Mahar, in May took the head coaching position at Assumption College, he was replaced by Jerry Carrillo, who lasted on the job a whopping six days,  before changing his mind and deciding to stay at Cochise College.

This made the Silverswords go back to the drawing board hiring Joe Bovaird, who for the last seven years have been an assistant coach at West Liberty University. Last year West Liberty went 35-1, with their only loss coming in the D-2 championship semifinal game against BYU-Hawaii, the big rival of Chaminade.

What makes this interesting is that in the last two years, West Liberty has lead the NCAA in scoring and thrived on the 3-point shot. Prediction here, when Chaminade plays BYU-Hawaii this year, the teams will combine for over 300 points, what fun would that be to watch. Dan Hooper, the very capable assigner of referees for the Pac-West had better be thinking right now of putting three officials on that game who can run the floor and worry about making the calls later.

(In case your wondering, the most points ever scored by ONE team in a college basketball game was in 1992 by Troy State, now Troy University, when they put 258 points on the scoreboard. Yes 258. In the game they made 47 of 109,  3- point attempts.)

Schedules---I am always puzzled why it takes many teams so long to post their upcoming basketball schedules on their websites. In fairness, some of the "smaller" D-1 schools have trouble scheduling home games for many reasons, but what takes the larger schools so long to post a schedule. Granted, football has a lot fewer games, but many football schedules are set 5-7 years out.

To me there is no excuse for some schools, especially in the WCC, who don't get around to posting their schedules until the middle of September. It may seem like a small point, but for the many fans who are interested in the upcoming season like myself, it sometimes is hard to wait.

For the record, per my latest research the only schools who play in the west who have posted their 2011-12 basketball schedules are UCLA, Washington and Colorado. Interesting game right off the bat, UCLA hosts Loyola Marymount in their home opener, which will be played at their home away from home, the Honda Center, while the Bruins Pauley Pavilion is being remodeled. Look for the Lions to make a strong showing in this game as Ben Howland teams always start slow.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

This Is Gaining Traction

I first wrote about this a month past. While it is important to keep all you great readers and add more each day, I strive to keep things fresh, but on occasion it is always good to revisit some thoughts that I threw out and actually caused quite a stir.

In a nustshell, I am proposing that any college basketball game that goes into a second overtime not be played in a typical fashion, but instead go to a free throw shootout. The rules are simple, prior to the game the coach submits his list of FIVE players for the shootout, in order of their one shot. If at the end of the shootout, if the score is still tied, then the shootout continues but in reverse order of the first shootout, until someone misses and the other team gains the advantage.

Not to bring too many rules to this, but if someone on the free throw list submitted by the coach fouls out of the game, he must be replaced by the listed alternate. Also, the visiting team gets to choose which end the arena the shootout takes place.

My motives in this were two fold. 1) The excitement, pressure, interest and skill would all be present in the second overtime 2) It would cause teams and players to practice their free throws at a much higher level than they do today. Free shooting in college basketball is not nearly good as it could be or should be. (Did anyone watch how much free throws mean to Dirk Nowitzki).

In a bit of an irony, a person that I so respect for his knowledge of basketball ripped into myself when I first broached this idea, but yet yesterday he was going on and on about how boring college basketball is and how he refuses to watch it. NOTE to my friend, adding excitement to the game, was the key to my proposal.

I might also add, I have had two distinguished college basketball coaches tell me they love the idea. At first they thought I might have proposed it as a bit of humor, but when it became evident I was serious, the idea grew on them and they loved it.

For the record, in NCAA games for the last three years, only seven percent went to the second overtime and in 92 percent of those games the scoring was lower than the first overtime. For the purists, basically we would hardly ever reach the point of a second overtime shootout, so you can relax a little bit, but of course for the people who want to really think outside the box, maybe we just start overtime with a shootout.

Is my proposal going to fly? Chances are not, but it is fun to talk about and propose. I also would like for everyone who watches a game next year that goes into a second overtime, take note that almost universally, the second overtime is not only poorly played, but also poorly officiated. It is called the fatigue factor.

This is not a case of "if it is not broke, don't fix it". This is a case of making a great game even more exciting and brining back the free throw as an integral part of the basketball. Just keep in mind the most popular sport at least in the United States is the National Football League. They change their rules every year to keep the game as exciting as possible, so college basketball you could learn a good lesson here.

I want traction on this and I hope you do as well.

Since there are many more readers of this blog now than when I first wrote about this, I am really looking forward to your emails and comments.

Monday, June 13, 2011

College Basketball's Necessary Evil

Let's call it like it is. 

It is a dirty business, it must be done, it takes long hours and sleepless nights and many times it is done by people who are underpaid and not noticed.

It is called RECRUITING and it gets coaches hired and it gets coaches fired. Without question it is the most important thing for any college basketball program to succeed. Sure, once coaches recruit players, they have to coach them and they have to win, but to get to the point of giving yourself a chance to succeed recruiting stands above all else to making any program a winner.

I wish I had the time to follow the high school game better than I do, but I concentrate so much on the college game, I have to rely on my guru.

My guru does not coach any basketball team, he is not associated with any basketball team, but boy does he know every high school player on the west coast that ever got recruited and every player that is a potential recruit. He studies video, he  watches game live and when it comes to knowing the recruiting game,  he simply is the best.

Oh, for a name, I just call him the K-Man. K-Man, in life years is north of 60, but his enthusiasm for the game to this day comes off like a teenager. And for sure, do not get in free throw shooting contest or three point contest with him, you will get buried as many have tried and few have succeeded.

And just how does the K-Man view recruiting as it pertains to west coast basketball? He says it is like everything else in life and business, it is cyclical. He does see an upturn coming for the next few years, mainly because of a place we don't usually think about too much for high school basketball players, Seattle.

K-Man on the proverbial A-F scale, gives the Seattle area an A, mainly cause of its great depth of high school players. Moving down the coast, he rates Portland as a B, because of lack of depth, but does point out in the past year the Rose City has produced, Terrence Jones, Terrance Ross and soon to be Kentucky Wildcat, Kyle Wiltjer.

As for the Golden State, K-Man is all over the board in his grades. Leading the charge is the Oakland/San Francisco area which just keeps pumping out great high school players like Jabari Brown, Nick Johnson, Brandon Ashley and Kiwi Gardner, to just name a few. Grade A-plus.

Sacramento, L.A and San Diego do not fair as well in the grading system of the K-Man. He gives Sacramento a C, saying they always have too many academic casualties, San Diego also gets a C because of lack of depth and L.A. an A-minus, but cautions that with its size, it should be producing more depth and talented players than it does.

Lastly, the K-Man says there needs to be mention of Las Vegas, he rates an A, because of the prep schools, which have made Vegas a hotbed for basketball as of late.

But, how about the people who recruit many of these talented players. I asked the K-Man to rank the top five recruiters in the college game today on the west coast. Always up for a debate, but here is his list in no order, just the top five.

Leon Rice---Head Coach, Boise State
Sean Miller--Head Coach, Arizona Wildcats
Tony Stubblefield---Assistant Coach, Oregon Ducks
Jim Shaw----Assistant Coach, Washington Huskies
Dedrique Taylor----Assistant  Coach, Arizona State Sun Devils

There is one thing I do not know about college recruiting. For the most part the ground work is laid by assistant basketball coaches, who are underpaid, underrated and work day and night to get the right players for their teams. So my hats off to these people who pretty much receive zero recognition, but have one of the toughest jobs in all of basketball.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

He For Sure Is A Puzzle

Please forgive me in advance, on a rare occasion, I really feel the need to talk about something other than west coast college basketball. Not to worry, it will not happen that often.

But today, I wish to talk about everyone's favorite subject LeBron James.

For the record, I have never wavered, though I seldom root for individual players or teams I am rooting for the Miami Heat to win the NBA championship as game six approaches tonight.

Portland, Oregon is my home town and Erik Spoelstra is from Portland, so loyalty is important in my life and I am cheering for the hometown guy. I would root for Erik Spoelstra if he were coaching the Sacramento State Hornets or if he were coaching the Golden State Warriors, a job I am sure he might have been offered at one point in the past couple of years and as great a basketball fans as the Warriors have, I personally wish he would have taken. Portland has few hometown national sports figures, so when the hometown guys get in the spotlight, they have my support.

Everyone loves to hate the Heat, the players for sure have brought a lot of it on themselves, most of that stuff I tend to look past, as it makes for great media stories but in the big scheme of things it really means nothing, but with all that said,  it was hard to overlook the latest antic of LeBron James.

I have now watched the video seven times of himself and Dwyane Wade coming out for practice in game five of this series and obviously mocking Dallas super state Dirk Nowitzki,  pretending to cough and hack, in reference to Nowitzki's sinus infection prior to game four.

After being ripped apart by everyone for the incident, Wade now says he actually was coughing, I tend to take people at their word. James wishes to move on, but it really is hard to move on.

The talk about you don't do that to opponents, cause it fires them up, is actually nonsense. If professional basketball players are not fired up on their own, they will have short careers. But what you don't do LeBron James is make fun of people that are sick, have a disease or long term health issues, PERIOD.

Hubie Brown is the best professional basketball analyst on the planet, he should be working the finals instead of Van Gundy and Jackson, who besides an occasional laugh, really offer zero to the telecast. Brown says it is not right for anyone to try to get into the head of LeBron James.

What Brown does not realize is, it is hard not to think about , what the heck is this guy thinking? Just when you think LeBron might be taking a step forward in the maturity factor, he takes two steps backwards.

I would have to think that after the Nowitzki incident, not only Erik Spoelstra was in his face, but also Pat Riley had a few things to say. Repeating here,  it has nothing to do with firing up your opponent, it has to do with human dignity, it is that simple.

For anyone who knows anything about the game, LeBron James is without question one of the top seven professional basketball players of all time, but at present he fits also into the top seven of all time immaturity.

LeBron, I speak for many. We are sick of your showboating on the court, we are sick of incidents like mocking Dirk Nowitzki and it is time to grow up.

Image and legacy count in life, maybe in sports more than anything else,  professionally. I am not giving up on LeBron James, I just want him to become the same type of person he is as a basketball player both on and off the court. He still has time and only time will tell. LeBron, at present,  you are not funny, you are almost at times sad.

LeBron, whether you win or lose the NBA championship, take it with class and dignity. You will not regret it.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Can They Give Us More Than Spuds

Idaho is a beautiful state.

Coeur d'Alene, if you have not visited, you should put it on the bucket list. Sun Valley, not for me, but lots of people like it and the Magic Valley of Southern Idaho is one of the most gorgeous settings and best climates in all the 50 states. Last, but not least, where else are you going to get awesome potatoes, actually no where,  as Idaho spuds are the best.

The big question is, are the Idaho Vandals on the cusp of giving us some consistent good basketball for the first time ever? It would appear the answer might be yes.

Under the direction of  head coach Don Verlin, the Vandals are improving and starting to show signs they can become a force in the Western Athletic Conference. Some more good news, they no longer have to battle downstate rival Boise State in league competition, as the Broncos have moved to the Mt. West after having some pretty good basketball years under Greg Graham and last year with first year coach Leon Rice.

While the Vandals are not ready to give the people of Idaho an NCAA championship, they might be ready to make it to the NCAA tournament. Under Verlin's three year reign, he has guided the team to a 50-46 record, not something to throw a parade about, but considering that before Verlin arrived the Vandals had nine straight losing seasons.

Verlin has a nice recruiting class coming in for 2011-12 in local product Connor Hill, Xavier Brazilo and standout JC player Mansa Kaleeb, who very easily could become newcomer of the year in the WAC.

Last year the Vandals pulled off one of the biggest upsets in basketball school history, when they defeated perennial WAC powerhouse Utah State at home on national TV, 64-56, to break the Aggies 25 game league winning streak. While one game does not make a basketball program, confidence in beating the best can go a long ways. The Vandals also reached the post season of one of alphabet tournaments, losing to Santa Clara in the CIT (College Insider Tournament).

When you think about Idaho Vandal basketball, you have to think really, really hard about notable players. Sadly, there is only one, the great Gus Johnson, one of the most tenacious defenders and rebounders the NBA has ever seen and a 2010 inductee into the basketball Hall of Fame.

Greatness with Idaho Vandal basketball stopped with Johnson, but perhaps winning consistently can come back under the direction of Don Verlin. Of course the one big problem, is keeping Verlin at the Moscow campus. His name is often mentioned when jobs become open on the west coast and obviously some people are paying attention to the work he is doing with the Vandals.

It will be fun to watch the Vandals in 2011-12. Can they keep it going? I sure hope so, cause the state of Idaho needs more to cheer about than Boise State football.

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Friday, June 10, 2011


In case you missed the debut of CRAWFACTS last week, it is an attempt to bring you great readers of this blog, some information you might have missed about west coast college basketball, sports and even a little more.

1. Congrats to an avid reader of this blog. Dale Scott, is one of the great umpires in major league baseball. He has been in the league for 26 years and has served as a crew chief since 1999. Scott has been selected as the crew chief/home plate umpire for the MLB All Star game in Phoenix on July 12th. Way to go Dale and it could not have happened to a nicer person, who always has time for everyone, no matter what your status is in life.

2. The West Coast Conference has reached an agreement with the ESPN family of networks to extend their coverage of doing men's basketball games through 2018-19. Unlike the Pac-12, which flashed the numbers around of their new TV deal, the money part of the WCC deal with ESPN remains silent. Two details of the extended agreement do standout. Each team will get at least one national telecast during the season (I can hardly wait for Pepperdine at San Diego, I apologize, but I had to get that in) and ESPNU will televise the quarterfinals of the WCC tournament, for the first time.

3. Gonzaga is looking for a replacement for Craig Ehlo on their television broadcasts to work with capable play by play announcer Greg Heister. Ehlo earlier this year accepted an offer to become an assistant coach on the staff of newly hired Jim Hayford at Eastern Washington. I have a suggestion.
Francis Williams does a really nice job on Root Sports as a basketball analyst. He is prepared, knows the game and has a style that comes off well to viewers. Of course, almost anyone would be an improvement for Ehlo, who was lost on many broadcasts and there were times you almost felt sorry for him with his lack of preparation.

4. Ben Howland has filled out his coaching staff at UCLA by hiring Korey McCray, a move that kind of flew under the radar, but a move everyone who follows Pac-12 basketball should be watching. McCray last coached in college in 2004, but he has run a successful AAU program in Atlanta and has many NBA players he has been a personal coach too, including Dwight Howard. The big thing to watch is the fact that McCray was the AAU coach for Shaq Goodwin, who many consider to be at the top or near the top of recruits for the class of 2012. This was a shrewd hiring by Howland, his national recruting presence will take a big jump and look out.

5. Speaking of the WCC, their post season tournament will be extended by one day next year, starting on Wednesday and ending on the usual Monday time. Out of respect for new member BYU, which does not play sporting events on Sunday, it will be an off day now, as compared to in the past the day of the WCC semifinals. BYU is taking its entrance into the WCC for basketball seriously. The much watched BYU-TV network, which shows all aspects of the school, not just athletics, sent a TV crew to Moraga, California at the end of last season basketball season to document the WCC rivalry between Gonzaga and St. Mary's in men's basketball. I am sure it made for good TV, but as I stated before, there is no real rivalry when one teams dominates as Gonzaga has done over the Gaels.

6. I have learned that a few Pac-12 coaches at the very least are going to advise their players not to tweet during the basketball season. (I am sure the ACLU will weigh in). Of course it was tweeting that has gotten more than one athlete into trouble as of late. It is a great communication tool, not as good as Google, but still great and I would have to think that the different conferences will eventually have some sort of policy about Twitter. After all it would be no different than the policies most leagues have in place about commenting on officiating, which despite all the moaning that comes from people, is a good policy and helps keep some sanity to athletics.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The One And Only

He is unique, he is class, he is loyal and he is very, very good. He is positive, but always honest and you can't get anyone to say a bad word about him. I am talking about the great sports broadcaster Barry Tompkins.

Barry Tompkins has broadcasted sporting events around the world for years. Lots of people also know him for his great work doing play by play for west coast college football and basketball, mainly for Fox Sports.

John Hahn was fixture in the sports business on the west coast for 30 years and he told me the other day he has never met a nicer person in the sports broadcasting business than Barry Tompkins. That sentiment is prevailing by not only Hahn, but many other people in sports.

If you tune in to one of Tompkins' play by play broadcasts, unlike so many announcers today, if you want to hear how bad the officials are or how bad the coaching is,  or the players stink, turn the sound down. Instead you will hear an assessment of the game that comes out as smooth as melted butter. Yes he will tell you if a player or referee messed up, but never like some play by play people today of being nauseating and the only thing they know how to focus on.

In Craw's Corner's continuing efforts to take you great readers of this blog behind the scenes of sports and west coast basketball, it was fun to request some thoughts from Barry Tompkins recently and it was fun to get some answers back.

Tompkins is happy to see the arc out in the front of the basket. He likes that rule change for college basketball for this season, with the intent to help officials with block/charge calls, but the real change he would like to see in college basketball is player can either can turn pro out of school, or if he does go to college,  he needs to stay in school at least until his junior year. AMEN.

On any TV basketball broadcast, viewers see a great finished product. But as Tompkins points out, as a play by play announcer,  it is what goes into the preparation for the broadcast that is the key. Doing both football and basketball, Tompkins see the two sports as totally different in preparation. In college basketball he gets chance to see the teams often more than once during the season,  with so many games, which helps. He also likes the fact in basketball you only have for the most part,  12 players per team you have  to know about. The speed of the game makes it tough to tell stories, but Tompkins needs to be totally prepared, so he goes to practices the day before the game and also to shoot-arounds the day of the game. Trust me , Barry Tompkins is always prepared.

Obviously for Tompkins, football,  will be before basketball, but he does have some thoughts on west coast college hoops and things he is looking for this coming season. He is happy to see Sean Miller staying as the coach at Arizona, with potential for a national championship in coming years. Tompkins also is looking forward to see how far Dana Altman can take the Oregon Ducks in future years, as well as improvement coming from UCLA and California after down seasons in 2010-11.

Not to leave out the west coast conference,  Tompkins is anxious to see BYU come into the league and challenge Gonzaga and St. Mary's and he also will be watching to see if San Francisco, Santa Clara and Portland  can continue to make progress as they have been doing last year and for Portland the last three years under Eric Reveno as coach.

Barry Tompkins does not seek to be a broadcasting star, but he is for sure,  a broadcasting STAR. He loves the energy of college basketball and lets his broadcasts go along for the ride. He loves doing college basketball, loves being around kids, as he thinks it goes a long way towards keeping him contemporary and he was sure to add it helps having a 20 year old son.

In any story about Barry Tompkins it would be remiss not to mention his 28 year broadcasting partnership with Dan Belluomini doing west coast college basketball. Like many others you talk to, Tompkins raves about Belluomini's knowledge. Tompkins says it best, "In those 28 years, there was never one game where I didn't learn something from Dan, that I didn't know before". Take it from Craw's Corner, Barry Tompkins is the voice of west coast basketball and Dan Belluomini is the historian of west coast basketball. There will never ever be a better pair doing games on west coast basketball.

One last thing, because Barry Tompkins  and Dan Belluomini, are such great broadcasters, equally great people, throughout the longevity of this blog in highlighting teams, coaches, players and referees, Craw's Corner will be honoring Tompkins and Belluomini giving those teams, coaches, players and referees a BARRY or DANNY. I can hardly wait to give out the the first BARRY and DANNY.

That is the least I can do to honor two people who have brought so much enjoyment to people over the years when it comes to college basketball and continue to do as such.

I have never met Barry Tompkins, but I hope like myself, you have learned a little about him in this column.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Canada Gave The United States More Than Hockey

Pete Newell was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1915.

Bill Walton once told me as his basketball coach at UCLA, John Wooden had the most impact of any coach on his career, but Pete Newell as a basketball coach has had the most impact on the game of basketball in the history of the game. Many have echoed the same sentiments.

Newell, spent almost his entire 93 years, with the exception of a four year stint as head coach of Michigan State, coaching and teaching basketball on the west coast. He retired from coaching teams at the young age of 44, his Doctor telling him that he needed to relieve the stress in his life. While it ended his college basketball coaching career, it did not end Newell from coaching basketball.

Pete Newell played basketball at Loyola University, now Loyola Marymount University of the west coast conference. While there,  one of his classmates was Phil Woolpert, who won NCAA national championships in 1955 and 56 coaching the San Francisco Dons. It is amazing to know that two of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball were not only classmates, but came from Loyola and both had great success at San Francisco, coaching the Dons.

The table was set for Woolpert at San Francisco for national prominence  when Newell lead the Dons to the NIT championship  in 1949.  After leaving for four years to coach the Michigan State Spartans, Newell returned to the west coast and became the head coach of the California Bears. His success continued as in 1959,  his Cal team won the NCAA national basketball championship. The next year, Newell continued his great run of coaching by winning the gold medal in the Olympics, coaching the United States basketball team, his last time coaching an organized team.

But with his already stellar career and record of winning,  it did not end Newell's great contributions to basketball by any means.

In 1976, in what started out as coaching one person, Pete Newell created what is the most successful and greatest run of basketball camps in the history of the game. All you have to say, is the Pete Newell Big Man Camp. The history of the camp is legendary stuff. Based solely on two teaching techniques, footwork and fundamentals, 255 current or former NBA players have gleaned the teaching of Pete Newell and even greater, every person who attended the camp has come out of their experience saying the same thing, "I am a much better player today because of attending".

While Newell's impact of coaching and teaching will be leave an impact on the game of basketball for many years to come, his greatest contribution might well be the fact that in all his years of running the Pete Newell Big Man Camp, he never took ONE DIME OF MONEY. His feelings were that is was his way of giving back to the game he loved. In this day of high priced fees to attend not only basketball player camps and basketball referee camps, which in many cases the fees are just outrageous, perhaps more people should consider Pete Newell and think about giving back, NOT TAKING.

A few  more interesting facts about Pete Newell. In 1975, while serving as general manager of the Lakers he was engineered perhaps the best trade ever in the history of the NBA, by trading four players to the Milwaukee Bucks for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Enough said.

In a little known fact, of all the coaches who coached against the great John Wooden, for at least five games, he is the only coach to hold a winning record against Wooden. In addition, by being the winning coach of an NIT, NCAA and Olympic Golf Medal, he joins the elite company of only two other coaches in accomplishing that great fete.

The impact of Pete Newell in the game of basketball should not only be honored but also never forgotten. He had time always for not only the big stars who played and coached the game, but he also never turned down the opportunity to help a coach who was struggling to get his freshman team in high school to do the right thing. We could all learn a few life lessons from the great Pete Newell.

Pete Newell is not only a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he will be forever be a Hall of Famer in the game of life.

Mr. Newell passed away in California in 2008.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

There Will Never Be Another

Mike Lund is precious friend of mind. Mike Lund also happens to be an awesome assistant athletic director/sports information director/media relations and part time electrician, when the equipment fails at athletic events in his home base at Portland State University, in downtown, Portland, Oregon.

Lund on top of all of that has a great analytical mind and is an outstanding writer. You must go to, to see his article about the great Freeman Williams. His breakdown of players, like Williams,  who played before the three-point line and what they might have scored playing with a three point line in place, is terrific and well thought out.

There will never be another player like Freeman Williams on the west coast in college basketball and quite possibly in the nation. I am into my sixth decade of life and the two best college basketball players I have seen in person when it comes to college basketball were Portland State's Freeman Williams and Rodney Stuckey of Eastern Washington and trust me, I have seen lots of college basketball.

Williams played four years for Portland State in the 70s. To this day, he is still the second leading scorer all time in the NCAA behind "Pistol" Pete Maravich. In 1978, he lead the nation in scoring with a 38.9 ppg average. He was so good that against Rocky Mountain College he scored 81 points on an eventful night. To this day that ranks third in NCAA history for single game scoring only behind, Frank Selvy who had a 100 point game playing for Fordham and Vanderbilt's Paul Arizin, who scored 85 points in a game.

In 1978 the Boston Celtics drafted Williams, but his six years of NBA play were highlighted with the San Diego Clippers. From 1980-82 each year he finished in the top 10 in three point shooting and in 1980 he was named the NBA player of the month in February. It took the Clippers 25 years before their next player of the month, Eldon Brand.

Like so many players in the 1980s in the NBA, in my opinion personal issues derailed Williams from having a long and prosperous NBA career, he for sure had the talent.

Some people scoff at players who are big time scorers, I have never been able to figure that out. I actually watched a game at Portland State on night when Williams shot 60 percent from the field for the game and the rest of his teammates shot a combined 18 percent and the Vikings won the game by three points. He carried his team on his shoulders many nights.

After getting his life in order, Freeman Williams is doing just fine these days coaching in the Los Angeles area and I am sure making young men better shooters of the basketball,  just being around him.

In these days of sometimes boring basketball and players who have lost the ability to shoot the basketball, the memories of the great Freeman Williams cause me to think there will never be another player who can score like he could in west coast college basketball, end of story.

Don't forget, go to, to read more about Freeman Williams, you will be happy you did.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

In Case You Missed It

It is always good to catch up and in doing so, I wanted to bring you up to date on some things I have written about and also share some information.

Pink Whistles---My Memorial Day column was about the dispute between the Pacific Northwest Football Officials and their governing body over the use of pink whistles during a series of games and the punishment that was dealt them, which has for the last eight months been  an international story and outcry against the Washington Officials Association.

The PNFA have now hired a high powered Seattle, Washington attorney and are in the process of filing a lawsuit against the Washington Officials Association and its board. This could get either really ugly or a settlement could be reached soon. As I wrote in my column, this is an easy settlement and I am leaning towards it never gets to court.

Danny Miles and Brad Jackson--- It was really nice to know that both of these outstanding people and coaches took the time to write to myself and thank me for the things I said about both in recent columns. It shows a lot about the type of people both of these men are, but also it is never necessary, as I write this blog for the benefit of the many people around the country and the especially the great west coast basketball fans who read it each and everyday. Thank you Coach Miles and Jackson, for being so polite.

Center Court Line----In my research on Oregon getting a center court line that can be visible to 99 percent of the live audience or people watching on tv, there is nothing new. Bottom line, it needs to be more visible, right now the only people who can see it as I have written before is someone standing two feet over the line, with a magnifying glass. Let's get real here Ducks, there is a difference between being edgy and and being disrespectful to the game.

Seattle U---All kind of people have written to myself about why they think Seattle U. is not getting into the West Coast Conference of which I have written about, which seems like a no-brainer. Many have expressed the opinion that Gonzaga and the University of Portland are holding up the process, if there even is a process that is current. To be fair, the last time the teams in the WCC voted on this issue it was 8-0 against admitting the Redhawks for membership into the league. It is something I will follow up on and let you know any news in the weeks ahead. If Seattle U. does not get into the WCC eventually, the only way to describe it is,  travesty. In case your wondering, I am not even a Seattle U. fan, I just like fairness and what makes common sense.

No 2nd Overtime---In one of my columns last month, I wrote about eliminating a second overtime in college basketball games if needed and replace it with a free throw shoot out. Many thought the column was a spoof, that I was just trying a little humor. The true facts are that is not the case. I watch a lot of college basketball both live and on tv and factually the worst part of any games when they reach that point is the second overtime. Horribly played and horribly officiated is usually the norm. My proposal would put so much strategy, pressure and excitement into overtime, why not think outside the box.

Bill Russell---Thanks for all the comments about my initial CRAWFACTS, it will return late this week. You like it and by your comments you especially liked the part about Bill Russell changing the entire history of the NBA and not related to his being the greatest shot blocker of all time in basketball, but his turning down a huge offer to join the Harlem Globetrotters out of  college and then being drafted by the Boston Celtics.

Washington Generals---The Generals do prove that there are good guys who can finish last. The Generals in their constant battle to defeat the Harlem Globetrotters have lost over 14,000 games. As I wrote about how the Generals came to prominence following a game between Seattle U and the Globetrotters in 1952,  it is obvious by the emails I received,  the Generals have a following that would shock a lot of people and are adored by more than just a few fans. A gentleman in Oklahoma even writes daily a nicely done blog on the Washington Generals,
Who would have thought.

I want to personally thank everyone who reads this blog and people who write emails, even if you disagree,  as you often do. While I really enjoy doing this, it means even more that people can enjoy reading the columns. THANK YOU.

Editor's Note: Older columns, some referenced above are always available at

Is Anyone Noticing?

No one in football noticed that Chip Kelly was developing a dominating program at the University of Oregon until it was too late. Now everyone is playing catch up.

Could the same be happening with the Oregon men's basketball program?

Quietly, going into his second year leading the Ducks, head coach Dana Altman has a team for 2011-12 that has the makings of doing some damage in the Pac-12 and can easily make the NCAA tournament.

The 2011 recruiting class is loaded with players who can have an impact. At the top of the list is Jabari Brown, out of Oakland, California. Everyone wanted Brown, but to the surprise of a lot of people he chose  the Oregon Ducks.

Brown most likely will play a shooting guard position for the Ducks, but he is so good at 6'3', he could play the point if needed and he also in a league like the Pac-12,  which does not have a lot of big players, could move into the small forward position. The big problem for the Ducks could be how long Brown will stay at Oregon, barring injuries he is a sure fire NBA player.

Brown will join incoming recruits, Brett Kingma, Bruce Barron, Austin Keumper and Carlos Emory.
Of this group, the real surprise player could be Kingma. He can shoot with success from anywhere on the court and has an uncanny ability to get quality shots. Kingma comes from the basketball rich Seattle, Washington area, so he knows how to play already against the tough competition he will face in Pac-12 play.

As with every team, new recruits can't make the total difference, the Ducks have some fine players returning in E.J. Singler, Jeremy Jacob and a player who I think has the potential to have a break out year, sophomore point guard Jonathan Lloyd. Singler has improved greatly in each of his two years with the Ducks and if he continues in his final two years, he will become an outstanding Pac-12 player. We all know he knows the game, coming from a great athletic family, his brother Kyle was superb playing for Duke for four years and will be selected in the NBA draft later this month.

A missing piece to fill from last year's 21 win team for Ducks is finding a replacement for the capable Joevan Catron. Hitting the jackpot may just have ocurred in the last two weeks, as it was announced that star Louisiana Tech forward Olu Ashaolu will transfer to Oregon and will be able to play immediately as he graduated academically from La. Tech in February.

Ashaolu, comes to Oregon with outstanding credentials. At Louisiana Tech he average 14 points and 9 rebounds per game and despite withdrawing from the NBA draft, three different NBA scouts told me recently he would have probably been a middle second round pick. That tells a lot of people about the determination of a player, he wants to improve and is willing to work to do so. He will also join another good transfer from Minnesota, in Devoe Joseph, who sat out last year and is ready to make a major contribution.

Oregon in 2011 went from the best arena in the Pac-12 in Mac Court to the best arena in the Pac-12 in Matt Knight Arena. It is obvious, after some head scratching they picked a pretty darn good coach to replace Ernie Kent in Dana Altman. The guy won 21 games with at best average talent last year. The pieces are there to have once again a great home court advantage.

Like so many other teams on the west coast, Oregon does not have a true big man who can make a difference, but they do have talent and depth in every other position for 2011-12. Games are not won on paper or predictions, but don't be surprised if the Ducks finish second in the Pac-12 this coming year, go to the NCAA tournament and like Oregon football, sneak up on everyone.

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