Big Ten Wonk
Thursday, November 04, 2004
BONUS non-Big-Ten note: NCAA finds Quin Snyder guilty of lax ethics in recruiting. Other “findings”: sun is hot, French are pretentious, Jim Carrey’s not funny.
Yesterday the NCAA announced it is placing a one-year ban on off-campus recruiting by the University of Missouri men’s basketball coaching staff. The NCAA also took three scholarships away from the program over the next two years.

Mizzou fans are naturally breathing a sigh of relief that the NCAA did not impose a postseason ban, however, the prohibition on off-campus recruiting is huge, a fact that
some observers appreciate but most do not.

Simply put, Quin Snyder is trending dangerously close to Brian Ellerbee territory, a realm where recruits stay away not so much because of anything the NCAA has done but rather in fear of what the authorities may yet do to a program that has become synonymous with rule-skirting and sleaze.

One of the observers who doesn’t get it is
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the course of saying, incredibly, “I still believe in Snyder,” Miklasz asserts his belief that Snyder “can turn himself, and Missouri basketball, around.”

Snyder is entering his sixth season as Missouri coach.

Nevertheless, Miklasz also offers the best summary of Snyder’s career Wonk has yet seen:

As a coach he has delivered some outstanding moments, including five victories in the NCAA Tournament. But overall, his pattern of finishing fifth or sixth in the Big 12 and getting hammered by Kansas and Illinois is nothing special.

Predictions are inherently futile—so here’s one….
Here’s Jeff Washburn of the Lafayette Journal and Courier on why the injury to Purdue shooting guard David Teague means the Boilermakers will likely spend their December just trying to climb back up to .500.

Other possible opponents include Roger B. Taney High and George Fitzhugh Academy
non-anything note: In his customary desultory trolling for Big Ten news, Wonk stumbled across a write up on high school volleyball in Pennsylvania and thus learned to his shock and horror there is in 2004 a high school in Mercersburg, PA, still named in honor of the 15th president, James Buchanan.

Wonk devotes a lot of free time (i.e., time when he should be working) to pondering questions like this and has come to the considered conclusion that Buchanan is the single worst president in our history.

A Pennsylvania Democrat who served from 1857 to 1861, Buchanan knew of no step he would not take in order to appease the slaveholders who made his national career possible. He thought the Dred Scott decision a very good thing (and likely knew of it in advance), sought to run Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas (no anti-slavery zealot he) out of the party for insufficient fealty to the pro-slavery cause, and famously declared a convulsing and bloody Kansas to be “as much a slave state as South Carolina.”

The Democratic party in the quarter-century before the Civil War forms the sternest and most troublesome challenge to be found in our country’s history to the premise that democracy inherently nourishes and preserves basic human values and rights. As a matter of party doctrine (adherence to which was ruthlessly enforced) humans were classified as property, enslaved and sold. Laws were enacted abridging free citizens’ rights to object to this enslavement. Buchanan was the apotheosis of the antebellum northern Democrat, a genus that presents a particularly repugnant spectacle across the decades: placing career advancement above the lives of millions.

For Pennsylvanians in the early 1900s (I trust) to have named a high school after their eminent favorite son is an understandable manifestation of local pride. To carry that name forward into the 21st century is obscene.

Mike Davis Nostradamus Award
Named in honor of the Indiana coach’s outrageously immodest and catastrophically incorrect prediction that his 2002-03 Hoosiers could go undefeated—they went 21-13.

The winner is: Courtney Sims, Michigan sophomore big man and fabulist, for his bold—nay, Namathesque—
talk on media day: “I think we’re capable of [winning the national championship]. I think we have the talent. If we just come together and play as a team, I don't think anybody can really stop us.”

Mr. Sims, Wonk salutes your Ralph Nader-esque confidence! Surely teams everywhere are quaking in their overpriced sneaks, trying to figure out how to “stop” a team that hasn’t been to an NCAA tournament since 1998. Congratulations, Courtney! A “For Those About to Wonk” oven mitt and laminated post-game-interview-ready “NO COMMENT” flash card are in the mail. To borrow a line from “The Simpsons,” you, sir, are truly a credit to dementia.

Wright off
Indiana beat writer Terry Hutchens of the Indianapolis Star does a great job covering the Hoosiers but Wonk’s favorite stuff comes from the answers Hutchens posts to a readers’ forum.

Here, in a succinct bite-size package, is why Wonk is skeptical of Indiana’s chances for improvement, even with its influx of recruits:

Question: Is there any reason to believe Bracey Wright will finally become the player people thought he was coming out of high school? My uneducated perception (after watching 40 years of IU ball) is that he is a selfish player.

It's hard to imagine an NBA team wanting a guy who scores a lot but takes a million shots to get his 18 points per game. He has given no evidence of being a team player or leader and is a poor defender. What is it that makes people think he's so special? (Ken from Charlotte, N.C.)

Answer: I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is a big season for Bracey Wright in terms of his basketball future. He has a lot to prove. And he has a lot to prove within a team concept.

He needs to prove he can co-exist with guys such as Robert Vaden and D.J. White and get them involved in the offense. And he has to prove he can work within the offense instead of settling for the three steps-beyond-the-NBA-3-pointer that he was tossing up from all over the gym a year ago.

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