Monday, September 14, 2009

12 @ 12: Wrapping up the weekend

Oh what a weekend. Big commitments. Big time events. Big time football. Monday’s 12 @ 12 covers all the bases.

1. Memphis scored a commitment from local star Joe Jackson (pictured) on Friday. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. He was going to Memphis from day one. Now pair him up with Will Barton, a fellow top 10 recruit in the class of 2010, and Josh Pastner has the deadliest duo of speed and scoring coming to his program next fall. Remember, Pastner was at Arizona for a good part of the Point Guard U years and won a National Championship with the litany of guards that all suited up in Tucson.

2. Great pick up for Herb Sendek and Arizona State last week when Keala King, a top 25 guard from L.A., pledged to the program. It made me wonder how many N.C. State fans are wishing they held their criticisms back when Sendek was in Raleigh. He’s a big-time coach and landing big time players in Tempe. Maybe a move is what it took. Maybe Sendek’s laid back personality meshes better with the West Coast kids. The Phoenix area is a huge sell to kids that play a winter sport. Whatever the case, Arizona State is reeling in big time talent and winning.

3. In other point guard commitment news, Phil Pressey announced he would be taking his game to Missouri. Love this commitment for the Tigers. He is perfect in Mike Anderson’s up-tempo style. Pressey will have to improve on the defensive end of the floor but he is quick, heady and has won everywhere he has played. The Tigers have been searching for a point guard like Pressey since Anderson took the job.

4. When Tony Bennett was announced as the new head coach at Virginia, nearly everyone in the college basketball world was surprised. The former Washington State coach won with under-recruited players in Pullman and proved himself as one of the game’s finest coaches. Now that he is at UVa, the need to land more talented players to fit his system was at an all-time high. Bennett took a step in the right direction with James Johnson. And Johnson is from San Diego. Johnson picked UVa over offers from Arizona, Arizona State, California, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

5. Had a very interesting conversation with a high-major assistant coach the other day about the state of recruiting in 2010. In a nutshell he said: “We are involved with a lot great players in 2010 and in year’s past, those players would have three to five schools on their list. But this year, we are leaving an in-home visit and there are still seven, eight, nine schools that are given their presentations. And we are in the middle of September now. We know we are good with some kids but we can’t help but ask just how good we are with him?” Think the time away from April is a good idea for the kids and the coaches?

6. That being said, anyone have a real read as to where these guys are going to go to college: Tobias Harris, Josh Selby, Roscoe Smith and Adrien Payne?

7. I’m very interested in seeing how Dequan Jones plays this year at Miami. He has big time athleticism and a big time ceiling as a player. The muscular 6-foot-6 wing barely played in conference play last year and with Jack McClinton no longer leading the way for Frank Haith, the opportunity is there. He could be the most improved player in the ACC this season.

8. Houston Yates guard Joseph Young committed to Providence last week. The news was not earth-shattering and barely received much attention on the national level. Then THIS came out. Young’s father, Michael, is a coach at the University of Houston and a former Phi Slamma Jamma player. Amazing quotes. Oh to be a fly on the wall for a dinner conversation at the Young house last week.

9. Patterson School head coach Chris Chaney will take a year off from prep school basketball, reports Fox Sports national basketball report Jeff Goodman. Chaney is a fine coach and has won more games than any coach in the prep school ranks since 2005. It will be interesting to see where he lands on his feet again.

10. Really enjoyed the Battle of the Classes event last weekend at the University of South Carolina. The day was only three games long. Nearly all of the top players from the Carolinas were at the event. Everything was well organized. The venue was perfect. I wish more events in the fall could be this good and this well organized.

11. I’ve never understood why kids have press conferences to announce their college decisions. The news always leaks prior to the big announcement or the news wasn’t that surprising to begin with.

12. The NFL season is here and it was a wild first weekend of action. College football wasn’t too shabby either. Here are my dozen non-basketball thoughts from the weekend:

A. What a game in Atlanta on Thursday night between Georgia Tech and Clemson. AJC college football maven Tony Barnhart said it best in a Tweet: “I was impressed with the way Georgia Tech started and finished. Teams that lose a 24-0 lead rarely hang tough and win.”

B. A lot has been made of the offensive genius of Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach. He’s a master of the spread and the Red Raiders are one of the hardest teams to prepare for. But why isn’t Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson talked about in the same regard? The triple option is like knocking over a beehive and then trying to figure out which bee you want to catch. Very, very tough to defend.

C. Jay Cutler spent the off-season complaining, whining and pushing his selfish agenda. On Sunday night, football karma was served up in a major way for Cutler.

D. Drew Brees says Arena Football is not dead.

E. Matt Barkley, Southern Cal’s Golden Boy freshman quarterback, went to Columbus, Ohio and helped lead his team to a huge 18-15 win over Ohio State. But running backs Joe McKnight and Stafon Johnson and the Trojan offensive line deserve the most credit. Wow, what an effort on the road.

F. I wonder what time the Carolina Panthers called Jeff Garcia on Sunday afternoon.

G. Michigan is now in the top 25 because they beat Notre Dame? College football is turning into baseball. Nostalgia means too much in the here and the now.

H. It seemed like every game in the NFL had several big, physical hits that lead to big, physical football fights. Should be a great year on Sundays.

I. I have two requests for Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin. 1. Please stay away from the media for your team’s sake this week. 2. Please, please, please, please, please keep talking. You are the Don King of college football.

J. If I could play for one coach in college football, it would be Pete Carroll at Southern Cal.

K. If I could play for one coach in the NFL it would be Mike Smith of the Atlanta Falcons.

L. Best nugget from Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback (a column that I’ve clearly stolen the concept from for 12@12):
Well, I've got my (Michael) Jordan story. I was a 25-year-old college basketball writer at the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1982, covering the Final Four. North Carolina beat Georgetown in New Orleans, and Jordan, a freshman, made the winning shot from the left elbow in the final seconds.
The next morning, early, a few writers (I remember college friend Tony Grossi of the Cleveland Plain Dealer) went out to the lakefront airport in New Orleans to see the team before it jetted back to Chapel Hill. There, we spoke to James Worthy and Matt Doherty about winning the title, and off in the distance I noticed Jordan, who'd thrown down the winning shot nine hours earlier, in a coat and tie with a shirt about three neck sizes too big, with his big gym bag slung over his shoulder, carrying a film projector in his right hand and eight or nine canisters of film in his left hand. Yes, film. Those were the days of real film, not videotape. I said to Doherty: "Why is Jordan carrying all that stuff?" Doherty said, "The freshman always carries the film and the projector.''
Read that, college coach enablers.

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