WSU HOOPS

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BREAKING NEWS: WSU HOOPS joins SB Nation!

Posted by Jeff Nusser on August 21, 2008

I asked you to be patient, and your patience is finally going to be rewarded.

The news you’ve all been waiting for is finally here: WSU HOOPS has joined forces with Stadium Way to create CougCenter.com, the newest blog on the Sports Blog Nation network. We’ll be covering ALL things Cougars over there, not just basketball.

Now that WSU HOOPS will forever be frozen in this state with this final post, you might be asking yourself: What does this mean for me? Trust me when I say that we would not have made this move if we didn’t think it was better for everyone — especially you.

First of all, you’ll get more comprehensive coverage. My specialty on the site still will be hoops, but the coverage now will include football and other Cougar sports. I never wanted to tackle that much coverage by myself, but with the inimitable Grady Clapp on board as my co-author, I’m excited about what we’re going to be able to produce.

Second, the SB Nation site format allows for tons of reader interaction, the highlights of which you can find at this introductory post.

So what are you waiting for? Jump on over to CougCenter, bookmark it, and make it your first daily destination for all things Cougars on the Internet.

Posted in Misc. Blog Stuff | Comments Off

Exciting announcement coming soon

Posted by Jeff Nusser on August 18, 2008

Hold onto your hats. There are some big changes coming to WSU HOOPS soon, complete with me actually writing again. If you’ve been missing my words of wisdom this summer, hang in there. Bigger and better will be here soon.

Posted in Misc. Blog Stuff | Comments Off

Sorry so quiet

Posted by Jeff Nusser on July 29, 2008

Yes, I know the schedule has been released, and I’m working on my thoughts. But one of the reasons things have been so quiet is we’re working on some exciting changes around here. I don’t want to give away too many details until it’s finalized, but suffice to say I’m extremely excited about the direction of this site and where we’re going to be in the not too distant future.

In the meantime, make sure you familiarize yourself with Grady over at Stadium Way. He’s awesome. And have I ever said how awesome I think the name of that blog is?

Posted in Misc. Blog Stuff | 4 Comments »

Tentative schedule released

Posted by Jeff Nusser on July 16, 2008

WSU has yet to officially release the 2008-09 schedule, but you can find a tentative version via the Pac-10; Vince Grippi says that open spot on Dec. 20 is going to be Idaho, subject to administrative approval. Stadium Way has a nice first take on it here; I’ll have my thoughts on it when the official schedule is released next week.

Posted in News | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Weaver makes NBA ‘debut’ this afternoon

Posted by Jeff Nusser on July 12, 2008

The broadcast schedule is up online for the NBA summer league in Las Vegas, and if you have a broadband connection, you can catch Kyle Weaver’s first game with the Charlotte Bobcats today at 3 p.m. PT. — all you have to do is become an NBA.com “All-Access” member (which is free). The video from each game also is archived to watch later here if you can’t catch it today.

Derrick Low made his debut yesterday with the Dallas Mavericks, but played only three minutes. He did shoot 1-for-2 and dish out a pair of assists, but here’s to hoping he can get some more minutes to show what he can do.

To track how each does, Weaver has his own summer league page here, while Low’s summer league page is here.

Posted in News | Tagged: , | 2 Comments »

Jennings definitely heading to Europe

Posted by Jeff Nusser on July 9, 2008

As pointed out by Coug1990, Brandon Jennings is indeed heading over to Europe for his (presumably) one season out of high school before heading to the NBA.

We’ve covered at length what this means for the Cougs, but the bigger question is what it means for college basketball. There will be a lot of of hand wringing about it — and I’ll post a bevy of links at the end of the post for your perusal — but I ultimately think it means very little, to be honest.

Think about it this way: Are guys like Carmelo Anthony, Greg Oden, Kevin Durant and Derrick Rose instant stars signing mega endorsement deals the moment they declare for the draft if they spend their one year out of high school off the hoops radar in Europe?

Not a chance.

The elite players benefit tremendously from the exposure they get to the general American public in NCAA basketball. While they might make more in the short term in salary by heading to Europe — it’s been reported that Jennings’ salary would likely be between $100,000 and $300,000 next year — they stand to gain much more in the long term by taking it in the shorts financially for that one year at a university. Most guys will understand this, if they’ve got any brain at all.

The story might be a little different for the guys who aren’t top-level prospects, since they weren’t likely to get the kind of hype of an Oden or Durant anyway, but the reality is that almost all of these guys view themselves as Oden or Durant. And since they do, they’ll continue to go to college because they will want to have the one big year that will land them that No. 1 pick and endorsement riches beyond their dreams. Consider the story of Rose, who wasn’t even a lock for the No. 1 pick at the end of the season. Now, the hype is larger than life, thanks to his magical run through the NCAA Tournament.

One final thought. These guys absolutely crave attention; top-level basketball recruits have been coddled and worshiped since their junior high days, having been told they’re special pretty much everyday. They feed off the adoration. So, there’s a part of me that thinks Jennings is doing this simply because of the coverage that comes along with being the first. People will follow him to see how he does, given the novelty factor — it’s a unique way to generate hype and market himself.

But the second, third or 10th guy to go over there? No one will care as they watch their favorite college teams or fill out their brackets. And once they see a couple of guys head overseas where they’re viewed as just some snot-nosed kid from the States who isn’t ready to play with men, they’ll quickly realize college basketball is a much better means to their ends than European professional leagues.

Anyway, onto the hand wringing — starting with the one guy who has a well-reasoned agreement:

  • Mike DeCourcey, The Sporting News: “College basketball does not need Jennings to thrive. Arizona will miss him, certainly. The Wildcats might have been fashioned into a national title contender with another elite pro prospect on their roster. But to suggest his experience might lead to a flood of high school players moving to Europe is naive, and to declare that such a flood would irreparably damage NCAA basketball is ludicrous.”
  • Gary Parrish, CBS Sports.com: “Forget what it means to Arizona or Lute Olson. What it means to college basketball in general is what has the industry buzzing, because coaches will now have to approach the recruitment of elite prospects like they used to approach the recruitment of elite prospects, which is to say with great caution and the understanding that there’s a decent chance they’ll never enroll.”
  • Henry Abbott, TrueHoop: “Will he be able to help a top European club over the next year — when he would be a college freshman? It will be a trick for him to get a big deal in Europe, where teams face a lot of pressure to win now, play very intricate offenses, and prefer to develop point guards over several years.”
  • Jeff Goodman, Foxsports.com: “I don’t expect an influx of players to go this route, because frankly, there’s only a couple of kids each year at the highest level who would even explore this avenue.”
  • Lute Olsen, Arizona coach: “We as coaches warned the NCAA about this when it was first put in place. It’s going to turn into a bigger mess.” He advocates a system similar to baseball’s, where players either come straight out or are bound to go to school for two or three years.
  • Jason Whitlock, Foxsports.com: “Maybe Brandon Jennings will go down in history as the young man who forced the NCAA to honestly deal with the hypocrisy, stupidity and immorality of its rules.”

Posted in Around the 'Net, NBA Draft, News | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Jennings a lock for Europe?

Posted by Jeff Nusser on July 8, 2008

We’ll be writing up some more detailed updates of each Pac-10 team before too long — I swear! — but I wanted to pass along this little tidbit I ran across, because I think it has a lot of impact on the Cougs.

According to this report in the New York Times, no one thinks Arizona super recruit Brandon Jennings will actually set another foot in Tucson.

Jennings is having difficulty qualifying academically for admission, which has led him to publicly bandy about the idea of playing his (presumably) one season out of high school in Europe. He’s even floated the idea of heading to Europe even if he does qualify.

Why does that matter to us?

Just as Cal figured to be fighting with the Cougs to get into the top half of the Pac-10 and watched their effort to do that take a major hit when Ryan Anderson decided to stay in the NBA draft — a wise decision for sure (and I think New Jersey got an absolute steal late in the first round with him) — Arizona is another team in that situation.

The Wildcats did get a boost when Chase Budinger decided to return to school, but that’s been about all the good news there has been. Lute Olson’s return has been filled with drama, including the exodus of the coach-in-waiting, Kevin O’Neill, and assistant coaches Josh Pastner and Miles Simon, which led to the decommitting of top prospect Emmanuel Negedu. The recruiting class is weaker overall than what generally lands in Tuscon.

The Wildcats do have a very good core in Budinger, Nic Wise and Jordan Hill, and if Jennings arrives, it might really be the return of Arizona to truly elite status, as Olson predicts. Jennings is just the kind of fast-paced point guard Olson loves. But if Jennings doesn’t make it, the Wildcats will have major problems at the point, with the departure of Jarryd Bayless and the graduation of Jawann McClellan.

Wise, who isn’t a natural point, would probably have to slide over. That wouldn’t necessarily be a huge problem for a lot of teams, but Olson promised on his return to get away from O’Neill’s defense-first mentality and get back to “Wildcat basketball,” which means running and running and running. Can Wise do that for them? I doubt it.

So, Wildcat fans will continue holding their collective breath. Probably in futility, if you believe that report.

Curious what all the hype is about? You can seen Jennings in action on a video after the jump. Keep in mind, it’s that cruddy AAU ball that allows players to do pretty much anything they want all game long, but you can clearly see the physical tools. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Around the 'Net, News, Recruiting, Video | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Weaver lands in a great spot; Low faces uphill battle

Posted by Jeff Nusser on July 4, 2008

Man, it’s been a lot harder finding time to do this than I thought it would — who knew a teacher on “vacation” could be so busy? Hope you all are barbecuing and enjoying your 4th!

Anyway, onto Kyle Weaver. As I checked in periodically with the draft as it unfolded last week, I found myself getting anxious for Weaver. It became clear pretty quickly that he wasn’t going to go in the first round — especially as guys such as CDR and DeAndre Jordan dropped like rocks — so mostly I was just rooting for him to go to a situation where he had a better than even chance of making a roster.

I think he found that when he was drafted by the Charlotte Bobcats.

Outside of being drafted in the first round, going to Charlotte is probably one of the better situations Weaver could have asked for. First of all, let’s start with the Bobcats’ new coach, Larry Brown. After his awful experience in New York, he’s desperate for redemption in Charlotte. He’ll have no patience for shenanigans, or players who make stupid mistakes or have no interest in playing defense.

Weaver is about as free of pretentiousness as a player gets, and we all know how smart he is on offense and how hard he works on defense. He just seems to be exactly the kind of player Brown loves, and while Weaver likely won’t get a guaranteed contract, I’d be pretty shocked if he doesn’t make Charlotte’s roster. The backcourt is a bit crowded there, but this is a team that is probably going to move some parts. Expect Derek Anderson to be gone, and there’s rampant speculation that Raymond Felton is going to be traded after drafting D.J. Augustin.

You can read a great story that focuses exclusively on Weaver here, from his hometown paper. Excellent quotes.

Weaver will get the first chance to show what he can do at the Las Vegas summer league, starting July 11. I’m assuming some of that league’s games will be on NBATV, but there’s not TV schedule out there yet. I’ll pass it along if it looks like Weaver’s going to be on TV.

As for Derrick Low, you all know he didn’t get drafted. He’ll be in that same summer league with Weaver, playing for the Dallas Mavericks, and he’s got a very, very uphill battle to make that roster. But you never know. He also could catch someone else’s eye if it looks like he’s not going to stick with the Mavs.

Posted in NBA Draft, News | Tagged: , , | Comments Off

Point guard commits, big night for a couple of Cougs

Posted by Jeff Nusser on June 26, 2008

Xavier ThamesGeez, I’m without Internet for a couple of days and look what happens? The Cougs pick up a commit for the 2009 class, three-star point guard Xavier Thames.

Obviously I’ve never seen the guy, but equally obvious is that he fills a huge need for this team with Taylor Rochestie graduating at the end of this season. Thames is a big point guard, 6-foot-3 to 6-4, depending on the reports you read. And if you listen to his dad, defense is not a problem for this guy.

Here are some thoughts from Grippi:

“Thames is different. According to people I’ve talked with, he’s the kind of athletic, gifted, smart guy the Cougars have struggled to get interested in their program in the past. He’s dad’s quote about the recent success of the Cougars helping in his son’s decision was telling. An 8-24 team has trouble attracting a player like this these days.”

You can decide for yourself how good he is: He’s got his own Web site, and also his own page of video highlights. Pretty awesome, based on these highlights.

My guess would be that this will just about do it for guards for this class, assuming the verbal commitments hold up. The Cougs might try to pick up another point guard, but with Thames and Anthony Brown (a shooting guard from Shadle Park) set to join the 2008 class already heavy on perimeter players, look for the Cougs to focus heavily on adding some bulk to the frontcourt.

Moving onto tonight’s action, we’ll see what happens with Kyle Weaver and Derrick Low. Your guess is as good as mine where these two might go. Weaver could sneak into the end of the first round if someone really likes him, or he could go mid- to late-second round. Low could go in the second round or not at all. When you’re outside the lottery, it really comes down to whether a particular team really likes you. It might be something as small as something you did in a workout that made the team go, “Oooooh!”

We’ll weigh in on the picks and their futures tomorrow.

Posted in News, Recruiting | Tagged: , | Comments Off

2008-09 Pac-10 season finally starts to take shape

Posted by Jeff Nusser on June 16, 2008

Some have wondered why I haven’t done any kind of comprehensive breakdown of the upcoming Pac-10 basketball season, and the reason is simple.

I was waiting for today.

Decision day came and went, and we now know that Ryan Anderson and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are staying in the draft, while Chase Budinger is coming back to school. Of those three decisions, Anderson staying in the draft seems to have the greatest impact on the Cougs, who figured to be passed by the Bears this season with Anderson. Now, that team goes back to the drawing board a bit under Mike Montgomery.

I’ll have some real-deal breakdowns starting next week, so be on the lookout for those. I’ve just got to get done with the school year before I’ll have time for all that.

Posted in NBA Draft, News | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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