Weekly Wrap: Pay-for-play goes too far

BY foxsports • December 21, 2009

Roy Williams called out a fan. Bob Knight called out John Calipari. Royce White called out the legal system.

I’m calling out both the NCAA and the administration at Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

I know. Why the heck would I care about an Arkansas Pine-Bluff team that is one of eight winless teams left in the Division I ranks?

Because the poor Golden Lions have played all nine of their games on the road and won’t host anyone at the H.O. Clemmons Arena until Jan. 16 when Southern comes into Pine Bluff.

That’s insane.

I understand the school wants to pick up some extra cash and the best way to do it is to have your college basketball team go out and be the sacrificial lamb and play a ton of “buy” games — ones in which you play high-major programs and are paid in the neighborhood of $75,000 just to show up and get the you-know-what beaten out of you.

But someone needs to put a stop to this.

These kids are supposed to be student-athletes, but how can they possibly be students when they are rarely on campus and in classrooms?

Thus far, George Ivory’s team has played eight games in seven different states. The Golden Lions have been to Colorado, Texas, Ohio, Arizona, Michigan, Oklahoma, Georgia and Missouri — all in a stretch of about five weeks.

Trust me. No coach wants to sign up to be the Washington Generals of college basketball. But Ivory doesn’t have much of a choice in this one.

He’s just doing what he’s told from above.

They play Kansas State on Monday night and then will head to Oregon right after Christmas.

The NCAA needs to put a stop to this and mandate that teams can’t schedule 14 consecutive road contests to start a season.

They talk about academics and the APR, but do you think poor George Ivory and Arkansas-Pine Bluff student-athletes have a chance?

Not on the court or in the classroom.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Texas’ decisive victory against North Carolina was certainly impressive, but it’s hard to argue with Duke’s resounding win over Gonzaga in Madison Square Garden. The Blue Devils pummeled a ‘Zags team that has spent most of the year in the top 25 by 35 points.

STUD (PLAYER OF WEEK): Sexy Dexy — The honor goes to Texas senior big man Dexter Pittman after he and teammate Damion James handled a long and athletic North Carolina frontline. Pittman finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds — including a dozen on the offensive end — in the Longhorns' convincing win against the Tar Heels.

DUD: Tennessee went out to Los Angeles and Vols coach Bruce Pearl returned with his worst loss since taking over in Knoxville. USC dominated on the glass, 43-21, and UT made newly eligible Trojans point guard Mike Gerrity look like John Stockton in his first game action since March of 2008.

MID-MAJOR TEAM OF THE WEEK: Old Dominion shocked Georgetown a few years back when Blaine Taylor’s team traveled to the 2,400-seat McDonough Gym — where the Hoyas play one game per season — and pulled off the upset. Well, the Monarchs did it again, this time knocking off Georgetown, 61-57, on Saturday afternoon in the same venue.

GAME OF THE WEEK: Butler vs. Xavier — A week ago, the Musketeers were in this space for their heated double-overtime win against rival Cincinnati in the Crosstown Shootout. This time, Xavier coach Chris Mack and the Musketeers came up short after a clock snafu in which Butler pulled out the win on a last-second shot from Gordon Hayward.

WORST LOSS: Illinois dropping one to a Georgia team that has very little talent. The Illini were a preseason top 25 team and the Bulldogs entered the game with a .500 record and are expected to finish in the cellar of the SEC East.

WEEK TO FORGET: Gonzaga — The ‘Zags made the 3,000 mile trek all the way to New York City to suffer a humiliating defeat. I wouldn’t have wanted to be on that flight back to Spokane.

WHY I’M STARTER THAN I LOOK: I’m on a roll this season and am 5-for-6 with my weekly upset prediction. This week’s was for Wichita State to knock off a ranked Texas Tech team — and that’s exactly what Gregg Marshall’s team did, handing the Red Raiders their first loss of the season.

WHY I’M DUMBER THAN I LOOK: Because I questioned whether Jon Scheyer could be a quality point guard. Scheyer has a terrific 5.9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio so far this season and is also scoring 18.2 points per game.

SLIP SLIDING: A year ago, UCLA pummeled Notre Dame into virtual submission out in Los Angeles. Luke Harangody and the Irish got a measure of revenge by beating the reeling Bruins in South Bend over the weekend.

WELCOME BACK: Who would have figured Mike Gerrity’s debut at USC would completely overshadow Ater Majok’s at UConn? Gerrity went for a double-double (12 points and 10 assists), while Majok scored just one point and had three rebounds Sunday in his first collegiate game, a win against Central Florida. Another guy who made his return this weekend was Villanova guard Reggie Redding, who scored 15 after being suspended for the first semester.

THIS WEEK’S TOP MATCHUPS:

1. Michigan State at Texas, Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET: The Longhorns looked terrific against North Carolina and now they will play another top 25 team — this time even closer to home in Austin.

2. Mississippi at West Virginia, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET:
It’s not just a matchup between Bob Huggins and Andy Kennedy, who worked together for years at Cincinnati. But it’s also a battle of two of the top teams in the country.

3. West Virginia at Seton Hall, Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET: Huggins and the Mountaineers have as difficult of a Christmas week as anyone in the nation, playing Ole Miss and then a talented Seton Hall team on the road.

4. Texas A&M at Washington, Tuesday at 11 p.m. ET: Mark Turgeon’s team has been a pleasant surprise thus far, while the Huskies have suffered a couple of surprising setbacks.

5. California at Kansas, Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET:
The Bears have Theo Robertson back and should be able to hang with the Jayhawks in terms of perimeter guys. However, Mike Montgomery doesn’t have any answers for Cole Aldrich and KU’s size up front.

6. UTEP vs. Oklahoma, Monday at 5:30 p.m. ET:
This is part of a doubleheader in Oklahoma City, and I can’t wait to see Derrick Caracter and Keith “Tiny” Gallon go up against one another.


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