Proposal could save exempted tourneys

Originally Published: January 10, 2005
By Andy Katz | ESPN Insider

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Weak fields in exempted tournaments might finally be a thing of the past after the NCAA membership endorsed for a vote in April a scheduling proposal from the Northeast Conference.

The proposal calls for 27 regular-season games, plus an exempted tournament (counting for one game against the maximum), plus a conference tournament. If it passes through the management council and the board of directors in April, the Maui Invitational, Great Alaska Shootout, Preseason NIT, Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, Guardians Classic and the like would be able to survive – and likely flourish.

This legislation would allow teams to play in events like this every year, although they couldn't be in the same event more than once every four seasons. The current rule that limits these events to only one team per conference would still apply – something that may impact the new 16-team Big East and 12-team ACC. The big-name tournaments likely would rotate the highest-profile teams on a four-year cycle, but the good news is the other teams in the leagues will get to play in exempted events every season.

This proposal also would be great for mid- and low-major teams, which would get the chance to play high-profile teams on a neutral court every season. These kinds of games always help a team's postseason résumé.

The NCAA membership also forwarded a 29-game proposal that likely would wind up in a lawsuit with the NIT. This proposal makes all games count as one, essentially eliminating exempted events, as a team couldn't schedule without knowing whether it would play one or four games in events like the Preseason NIT.

The overall hangup is what to do with exhibition games. Some schools want to get rid of them all together, while others want to hold onto the revenue. The thinking is the 29-game schedule proposal would give schools two more home games that would replace the exhibitions. Currently, teams play 28 regular-season games.

Coaches also took a step toward winning a huge battle, getting approval to watch their players practice out of season and in the summer. But this vote was merely an endorsement. It still has to go to the management council and the board of directors.

The NCAA is still cautious about giving coaches more access. This is by far the most broken rule in the handbook. Countless coaches say they don't watch their players scrimmage in the offseason, but trust us – they do. There is no harm in watching players play pickup games. Coaches have a full agenda and wouldn't spend oodles of time coaching their players in the offseason. They just want to be able to organize and offer structure to offseason workouts. There is no harm in allowing this to occur.

Banks' stock
Memphis coach John Calipari played Sean Banks for 24 minutes off the bench in a win Sunday night over Southern Miss. Calipari said he never considered kicking Banks off the team and wouldn't get into reports of Banks getting into a scuffle with another teammate after the loss to Texas.

Sean Banks
But Calipari did say that Banks' stock has dropped considerably with the NBA and that the sophomore has has no idea how much he has hurt himself with his poor attitude this season. Banks,'s national freshman of the year last season, is considered one of the nation's top talents at the swing position if he adapts to the team concept.

Calipari also said he wished he were harder on the squad earlier in the season. He's not upset about the seven losses, as long as the Tigers take care of business in Conference USA with a better attitude. This team played with much more passion and purpose in the loss to Texas last week, and that's why getting a rebound win over Southern Miss on Sunday was paramount.

Floyd update

Tim Floyd
The reason Tim Floyd is more inclined to take the USC job than wait for LSU is that he is a good friend of cuurent LSU coach John Brady. There is no way to tell yet if Brady is in trouble with the Tigers, but Floyd isn't about to sit and wait for Brady to fail. The two talk often, and Floyd is loyal to his posse. He wouldn't do that to Larry Eustachy, and he's not about to loom over Brady's shoulder, either.

If Floyd takes the USC job this week, expect him to spend time formulating his staff and leaving the Trojans to finish the season on their own. The Trojans' staff is worried the team has quit. USC (7-8, 0-4) is winless to start the Pac-10 season and showing no signs of turning things around under Jim Saia.

Tulsa update

Matt Doherty
Former North Carolina coach Matt Doherty is looking for a place to call home long-term. If Tulsa wants a coach who doesn't want to be a climber but is still young enough to have the energy and work ethic to get the program to the elite level in Conference USA, then Doherty could be the choice.

Nolan Richardson will be a factor, but that could be a tough sell with some alumni. Bill Self, the former Tulsa coach, will push Tim Jankovich, his Kansas assistant. Jankovich is well-liked in the area and deserves another chance as a head coach after a stint at North Texas. Jankovich was also at Vanderbilt under Kevin Stallings before joining Self.

Common thread

Norm Roberts
Is it ironic that coaches who were two of the highest-profile offseason hirings both beat N.C. State? Norm Roberts of St. John's took out the Wolfpack in New York, and Frank Haith of Miami beat the Wolfpack to open the ACC at home for the 'Canes.

Both coaches were under-the-radar hires for high-profile jobs, yet they're doing just fine in turning their programs around. Roberts had more of a rebuilding project, but Haith has the tougher league in which to survive and already has a non-conference win at Florida.

So far, the schools should be commended for taking chances on these former assistants.

Injury bug

  • Wayne Simien
    Keith Langford
    Kansas will know later Monday if it's down as many as four players for Wednesday's Big 12 road opener at Iowa State. The Jayhawks aren't likely to have Wayne Simien (out with a thumb injury), and the staff told early Monday morning that Keith Langford (concussion), Christian Moody (ankle), and Russell Robinson, who got whacked in the head and played just two minutes in the second half against Kentucky, are all listed as day-to-day.

    The latter three got hurt in the win over the Wildcats on Sunday. Kansas isn't going to push any of these guys, especially with road games coming up at Colorado and at Villanova in the next two weeks. Simien wants to play, but Bill Self isn't going to run the risk of losing him for longer if he's not ready to take a hit to his thumb.

  • New Mexico coach Ritchie McKay said star forward Danny Granger is listed as day-to-day for Saturday's game at Air Force after injuring his knee against Wyoming.

    Granger scored 12 points in 12 minutes in the 89-75 MWC-opening win over the Cowboys, and McKay wasn't overly optimistic Granger would be able to go against the Falcons. He was more hopeful Granger could go for next week's road swing to BYU and Utah.

    McKay watched Kansas beat Kentucky in Lexington without Simien and evoked that effort as a possible inspiration for the Lobos. New Mexico is heading into a three-game road trip as the co-favorite with Utah to win the league.

    Transfer nugget

    J.R. Giddens
    Kansas expects USC guard Rodrick Stewart to be on campus in the next week in preparation for the start of second semester. Stewart would be eligible at the end of the first semester next fall and would be classified as a second-semester sophomore.

    The Jayhawks would have one more scholarship available, but might give it to Christian Moody, who is still a walk-on (in financial assistance only). Kansas is still preparing for the possibility that sophomore J.R. Giddens will declare for the NBA draft, although that is becoming less likely. senior writer Andy Katz brings the Daily Word five days a week to ESPN Insider.

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