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Operation Basketball Gets Strange

And that doesn’t even count Rick Pitino spouting off from afar

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NCAA Basketball: ACC Media Day
 Oct 25, 2017; Charlotte, NC, USA; Duke Blue Devils head coach Mike Krzyzewski answers questions during ACC basketball media day at The Ritz-Carlton.
Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

As expected, this year’s Operation Basketball had more fireworks than usual. Expand the borders out to include the various figures around the Louisville branch of the NCAA scandal and it gets really weird.

Commissioner John Swofford had to deal with the NCAA scandal as it obviously has touched Louisville and Miami to some extent.

Swofford gave a somewhat weak defense of asking Louisville to join the ACC ( "[it was the] right decision at the time") and announced a task force to help the NCAA address problems in recruiting: "Our goal will be to see if we can offer solutions to the NCAA commission, or at least ideas for them to consider and processes that may prove helpful to them as it completes its work. We're visiting with a number of our own coaches one-on-one for input, and simply put, our league needs to do our part in finding solutions to this and offering ideas that can lead us to solutions. And I'm confident with the leadership of that task force, we will hopefully be able to do that."

Former UVA A.D. Craig Littlepage will run this show. Apparently it wasn’t “the right time” to ask Louisville to help out.

Oddly enough there’s one from UNC involved either.

UNLV-CH’s scandal was on a different track but it was highly successful for a long time and the non-punishment did not go unnoticed by Jim Boeheim, who called the NCAA out for a double standard.

He did allow as how he and Roy are friends, but still decried the double standard.

Ol’ Roy wasn’t going to take that so he fired back: “Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Jimmy is a good friend, we’ve been in this game a long, long time. I don't think you can compare situations. There was nobody in our office involved. … You cannot compare cases.”

Well tell that to Syracuse and Louisville and Georgia and Minnesota.

As for the suggestion that no one in their office was involved, we will only repeat what we’ve said before: the one thing that every coach and his staff knows is what classes people are taking and what work is supposed to be done.

Major schools have a lot of staff dedicated to this specific function. There are spread sheets with classes and assignments entered and maintained.

As you may recall, when Deborah Crowder retired, those folks had a power point presentation explaining that athletes “...didn’t go to class ...They didn’t take notes, have to stay awake...They didn’t have to meet with professors...They didn’t have to pay attention or necessarily engage with the material.”

If the academic support people understood this, we can assure you the coaches did as well. But there’s a sucker born every minute.

Speaking of suckers, Williams explained Joel Berry’s wrist injury: apparently he punched a door after losing a video game to Theo Pinson and a team manager.

Williams put it down to his competitiveness, which was kind, but he might have also said, and fairly: what kind of an idiot punches a door? Is this the level of emotional control Berry possesses? It’s like a 12 year old - maybe. One hopes he is better behaved around other people and particularly women.

As for Louisville, young Padgett turned up for the meeting and did his best, but, well, to say he’s unproven is at best kind. But at least he had a good line for Radio Row:

"Obviously, I know there's going to be a lot of questions about everything that's going on," Padgett said. "I keep giving the same answers, and I don't know if people think I'm lying or if they think I'm telling the truth. But first of all, I don't know anything. And even if I did know anything, I wouldn't be able to talk about it."

Fair enough.

One guy who is talking is Rick Pitino and it seems like the more this all sinks in, the madder he gets. He called his dismissal and that of former A.D. Tom Jurich a “witch hunt.”

He also now swears that he’ll “never step foot in Kentucky again.” He and Bob Knight should start the Bitter Coaches Retirement Home. They can throw chairs and turn over checkers tables when they don’t get their pudding on time.

In typical K form, Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski says that it’s a great chance to clean up the game.

For his part, Jurich is prepared to sue Louisville over his termination.

Moving on to Coach 3, when asked about alleged payments to a recruit, Jim Larranaga said “I understand and appreciate your question but I would like for you to just refer to my statement from Monday, because it’s an ongoing investigation and we really can’t go into any of the details or any of the circumstances.”

Afterwards, former Georgia Tech coach Bobby Cremins was there to pat him on the back and tell him to hang in there.

Incidentally, we didn't remember that indictee Merl Code played at Clemson from 1993-97.

Back to UNC: the Tar Heels got away with no punishment from the NCAA but their reputation continues to be pummeled. Andy Borowitz hits them with this zinger in the New Yorker and we got this image in the mail today.

On the honorable down side (as opposed to scandal news), Virginia’s Isaiah Wilkins had a really, really tough time at the end of last season and into the summer: he was dreadfully sick and lost a ton of weight. His situation was complicated by carrying the sickle cell trait.

Anyone who has ever witnessed someone suffer from a sickle cell attack will never forget it. It’s agonizing just to see it.

Fortunately he seems healthy again and prior to this situation had managed his sickle cell very well. We hope he can play this season without any setbacks.

And in a bit of positive news, Clemson got a commitment from 6-11 Trey Jamison.

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