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Chip Bremer, Odds and Ends

Off the Dribble by
Chip Bremer


Odds &
Ends: Recruiting to Eligibility


When looking at the national recruiting picture, Duke's Mike
Krzyzewski continues to be one of the very best at bringing in
top-notch talent, luring All-Americans to Durham without any
guarantee of playing time. His latest addition, 6-7 Luol Deng of
Blair Academy (Blairstown, NJ) is widely considered the second-best
prospect in the high school class of 2003, right behind Akron St.
Vincent-St. Mary's LeBron James - the likely #1 pick in the next NBA
draft.


But Coach K's continued success on the recruiting trail has
overshadowed the struggles of his neighboring peers at North Carolina
and NC State. While Carolina's Matt Doherty and State's Herb Sendek
have had significant recruiting victories over the past few years,
they continue to miss on vital position players, and such misses
could return to haunt them in the near future.


Sendek has been looking for a point guard ever since it became
apparent that Cliff Crawford was not the answer back in 1999. For
some reason, however, he continuously focused all of his recruiting
energy and resources on one particular point recruit per year and
lost out on every one. Brandon Fuss Cheatum (who later signed with
Ohio State in 2000), John Gilchrist (Maryland in 2001) and Chris Paul
(committed to Wake Forest in 2002) were all considered locks for
State at one point or another. Then, Sendek put all his eggs in the
Mustafa Shakur basket and ended up losing him to Arizona.


Now, Herb is focusing on the class of 2004 for his future floor
leader while stating that his system doesn't necessarily require a
natural point guard. This, however, has not stopped the Wolfpack
faithful from second-guessing Sendek's recruiting strategy. After
all, point guard play has always been a significant factor in the
ACC. And if Sendek wants to keep State in the upper tier of the
conference, he will need to find a ball-handler capable of running
his team.


Doherty's problem has been the recruitment of a center. The
third-year coach has been seeking a replacement for the departed
Brendan Haywood ever since he took the head-coaching job at Carolina
in 2000. But a slew of misses that year forced him to use power
forward Kris Lang at center. Misses in the following year (Torrin
Francis to Notre Dame, Jason Fraser to Villanova, etc.) are now
forcing him to do the same with freshman Sean May.


So far, attempts on two big men for next year have fallen short
(David Padgett to Kansas and Brian Butch to Wisconsin) and Doherty
may be forced again to wait another year for a prized center.
Otherwise, he will have to hope May adjusts to being the full-time
pivot man, or project Damion Grant eventually learns to play the
game. Either way, Coach Doh is looking at a small roster for a
while.


* * *

Conference USA's plan to go to one 14-team division for 2003-04
was not the best solution for this over-expansive league. If the
setup for the two divisions was not beneficial because all the
stronger programs were in one division, then they should have made
new divisions. Contrary to popular belief, ditching the divisions
won't help them get more teams into the NCAA Tournament. In fact, it
might be more disparaging to the lower tier teams. How would you
like to end up in 13th or 14th place?


* * *

In the not category of not-so-surprising news, the NCAA has
successfully denied even more foreign athletes a chance to play on
the college level in the United States. A new ruling by the NCAA
management council stipulates that a foreign player who is past the
high school age and competes on a professional team won't be eligible
for any college program in the U.S. The new rule, which will take
affect August 2003, is another attempt by the NCAA to shut out
deserving students from their precious money-making sports. Why do
they continue in this direction? It's the NCAA. What do you expect?


* * *

The NCAA notified coaches last month that game officials will
focus more on traveling calls this year. The coaches are concerned
with the issue of the jump-stop travel and which foot would be the
pivot foot during the jump stop, but they probably don't need to be
concerned. NCAA officials always say they will call games one way,
but during the course of the season, they'll revert to their original
points of focus, which are nothing in particular.


* * *

This month's sign that the Apocalypse is upon us: the NCAA
Division I board of directors approved a new set of academic
proposals that will allow college coaches in every sport to recruit
high school athletes who achieve no better than a 400 on their SAT
(the lowest score possible). This would mean that all someone has to
do is write their name on the test and they are eligible for a
scholarship. Apparently, the sliding scale for eligibility will now
focus on GPA and core courses rather than standardized tests. They
claim this is being done to protect disadvantaged students who come
from inner-city school systems that fail to properly prepare them for
college admittance. But what it really does is create a system that
is ripe for abuse, by leaving room for adjusted GPAs and corrupted
core grades and putting the onus on the colleges for bringing in
student athletes that can handle their curriculum. That's one of the
reasons the whole standardized testing procedure was adopted as an
admissions guideline in the first place.


* * *

The National Basketball Developmental League will tip off its
second season on Friday, November 15, with all eight teams in action.
This year will feature more games played on Friday and Saturday
nights, and more games will be televised on ESPN2.


Former ACC players on NBDL rosters include:
Eddie Elisma (Georgia Tech '97) and Ervin Murray (Wake Forest '02)
for the Asheville Altitude; Adam Hall (Virginia '02) for the Columbus
Riverdragons; Terrell McIntyre (Clemson '99) for the Fayetteville
Patriots; Donald Hand (Virginia '01) and Jamar McKnight (Clemson '02)
for the Greenville Groove; and Nate James (Duke '01) for the North
Charleston Lowgators. The Huntsville Flight, the Mobile Revelers and
the Roanoke Dazzle currently have no former ACC players listed on
their rosters. Although, Jason Capel (North Carolina '01) is slated
to play this year in Fayetteville for his father, Jeff Capel Sr., he
is not currently listed on the Patriots roster for the 2002-03
season.