Posted on: February 16, 2012 2:28 pm
Edited on: February 16, 2012 3:19 pm

No. 1 senior Nerlens Noel discusses recruitment

By Jeff Borzello

Nerlens Noel's recruitment has heated up since he reclassified to 2012. (MassLive.com)

Since Nerlens Noel announced a few weeks ago that he was reclassifying to the class of 2012, he’s been the most talked-about recruit in the country.

Noel, a 6-foot-10 Massachusetts native who plays at Tilton (N.H.), immediately moved to the No. 1 ranking in the nation. Moreover, the schools pursuing him have really turned up the heat.

“Recruiting has gone crazy all of a sudden,” Noel told Jeff Goodman on SiriusXM’s Inside College Basketball on Thursday afternoon. “I just need to plan out some visits to get out to all these schools. Keep talking to coaches, build better relationships with them.”

Noel is currently considering Kentucky, Syracuse, North Carolina, Florida, Georgetown and Connecticut. He later tweeted that Providence was also on his list, but did not mention them during the interview with Goodman.

He visited Syracuse this past weekend for the Orange’s win over Connecticut, and he will trip to Kentucky this coming weekend.

“I’m talking to a few more coaches to get down to their campuses during vacation,” Noel said.

Noel is the best shot-blocker in the country, and would immediately be the best in the college game too. He has tremendous dexterity defensively, able to cover a lot of ground and alter shots with either hand. Noel’s offensive is constantly getting better, and he is developing post moves and is taking defenders off the dribble as well.

He would dominate defensively wherever he ends up.

“Just a good program where I can go and play and be comfortable with the coaching staff, the whole program,” Noel said. “I know I can develop as long as I’m there, as a player and a person.”

Noel maintains that he is wide open among the six schools he mentioned, and he is still a long way from making a decision.

“I don’t really have a timeframe,” Noel said on the show. “I just want to make sure I get in all my visits to these schools. However long that takes.”

Posted on: February 8, 2012 10:32 am

Podcast: Kentucky now a cut above?

Once again, Duke vs. UNC tonight. But Duke's loss at home to Miami has tempered the anticipation for this game. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

After last night's Florida-Kentucky game, Parrish settled into the Gators' locker room and taped this podcast. Goodman was at his home, and I was just happy the connection stayed strong.

We've got a consistent, basketball-heavy edition of the pod today. Normally that's not always the case, with Parrish, Goodman or myself tossing in some non-hoops stories. Actually, that eventually happens too, but this one stays on message for most of the 36 minutes we talk.
The obvious topics:
  • From the beginning: After the way Kentucky won so convincingly, and how Ohio State barely got by Purdue, is it now that UK is on a shelf higher than other teams? I say no, but Goodman and Parrish disagree.
  • 8:00: The first segment is more Kentucky and Florida. This is the Ohio State talk.
  • 13:20: Parrish will be at tonight's Duke-UNC game, which doesn't have the urgency it's had in the past. Duke is coming off that loss to Miami, and a double-digit fall to UNC wouldn't be shocking at all.
  • 15:44: Somehow we get into Las Vegas, ATM, strip club stories. If I don't run this ship tightly then it stands to get really, really sketchy territory.
  • 18:20: Back on topic with Duke.
  • 22:00: We address UConn and The guys also hammer UConn for its incredible fall as of late. Goodman puts Calhoun in a wheelchair while coaching.
  • 27:00: In other news, Memphis is headed to the Big East. Why is that really good for Memphis, really good for the Big East and not all that great for Memphis coach Josh Pastner?
  • 32:00: You think we can end this on a graceful note? Of course we can't.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast--whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 11:18 am

Podcast: Happy birthday, Gary Parrish

By Matt Norlander

No primping needed. This is our longest and certainly one of our top-five podcasts yet. My timeline rundown doesn't do it justice.

What's when:
  • From the beginning: Goodman also explains which college coach is close to Bill Belichick. You'll never guess it. This quickly gets into some casual banter about the best and worst coaches when it comes to soundbites.
  • 9:07: Purdue. You know they haven't had a season where they've failed to win five in a row since Matt Painter's first year, '05-'06 season. The Boilers now likely won't do that this year -- will they miss the tournament this year like they did in '06?
  • 14:21: Goodman doubts UNC more without Dexter Strickland. Parrish does not.
  • 17:36: Duke's student section isn't selling out and now everyone is laughing at the Cameron Lazies.
  • 19:40: Why isn't college basketball as interesting this year as we thought it would be?
  • 23:28: Addressing a team I've continually been down on -- Florida.
  • 26:32: The BracketBusters talk is surprisingly really good. Just listen. Goodman goes off on this plan of his that's filled with issues. Hilarious.
  • 30:30: San Diego State is 18-2. They get their due here. I then lose it. Just lose it.
  • 33:29: Tuesday was Gary's birthday. The final 10 minutes are filled with banter, Parrish's birthday philosophies, his need for medication, weekend plans, how I can't make it on the streets, etc.

Again, I thank you for taking the time to listen to the podcast--whenever you can. I ask that you, if you like what we're doing here, encourage like-minded hoopheads to subscribe in Tunes as well. Guests like Jay Bilas, Seth Davis, they're the guys who make me sound better and make the podcast worthwhile. The other guys? Gary Parrish and Jeff Goodman, they really make it entertaining, and of course you can count on our trio show each Wednesday. The RSS feed is another way to keep the podcasts coming to you ASAP. We've got a Zune download link as well.

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Posted on: January 25, 2012 11:01 am
Edited on: January 25, 2012 12:22 pm

Nike sterilizes college hoops with platinum unis

None of these people currently play college basketball. (Nike)
By Matt Norlander

Syracuse fans' worst nightmares have come true. The team will wear gray uniforms. That's the color of the enemy, Georgetown.

It's not just Syracuse, though. Many teams will be wearing gray -- oh, sorry, PLATINUM -- at some point this season. Nike teamed up with a bunch of universities, primarily because Nike has lot of employees with a lot of time on their hands and is obsessed with this gray/platinum trend way more than it should be. Because of this, nine teams will don these generic, already-out-of-vogue uniforms.

Other schools duped into the marketing ploy include Arizona, UConnDuke, Florida, Kentucky, both the men's and women's North Carolina teams and the Baylor women's hoops squad. Here's the thing -- they're not even that ugly. It'd be one thing if these threads were Oregon's court reincarnated, but they're just ... boring-looking, nondescript from the past half-decade of altering team jerseys up and down the grayscale.


The relief comes from the fact these things will not affect player performance. Because players don't much care what they wear, or at least they don't let the colors they don alter their game. As long as fans can restrain themselves from vomiting onto the floor, we should all survive this. Look good, feel good; feel good, play good and all that, but these just look like uniforms that take away from the spirit of the team. They're not playing for Syracuse or UNC or Arizona anymore. They're playing for Nike. Aren't we all. Them or Apple.

There is good news. First of all, the uniforms are apparently great for the environment, having been made up of mostly recycled polyester material, as well as most of Jim Boeheim's old, sweaty dress shirts.

Secondarily, the teams won't be wearing them on the regular. Syracuse will place them on their backs for the most meaningless game of their season: the Feb. 22 home game against South Florida. Kentucky, so fa as we know, is only throwing on the throwfronts for the Jan. 31 game against Tennessee. UConn will give these things a go this Sunday, against Notre Dame.

They'll come and go until the next uniform trend arrives. And when that happens, let's abide by dominant team colors.

(Via Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician)
Posted on: January 16, 2012 3:29 pm

The Poll Attacks

By Gary Parrish

We've got a Murray State problem that needs to be addressed.

And this is a good place to address it.

So let's do some Poll Attacks.

Associated Press poll: Louisville is 14-4 with two losses to unranked teams and zero wins over schools that are currently ranked. Take away everything you thought you knew about the Cardinals in the preseason, focus on what I just told you and then I think, you'll understand why we are no longer ranking Rick Pitino's team in the Top 25 (and one). The Cards have bad losses and no great wins to offset those losses. That's the bottom line. So Louisville does not deserve to be in the Top 25 (and one). Or 23rd in this week's AP poll.

And the Cards sure as hell don't deserve to be 10th.

But guess who has them ranked 10th?

Answer: Ron Morris.

Ron actually has Louisville 10th and Florida 11th even though both schools are 14-4 with two losses to unranked teams and zero wins over currently ranked teams. Meantime, he has Indiana 16th even though the Hoosiers are 15-3 with just one loss to an unranked team and three wins over currently ranked teams, specifically No. 2 Kentucky, No. 6 Ohio State and No. 20 Michigan. I genuinely have no idea how anybody could look at what Louisville and Florida have done and conclude it's A) worthy of a top 15 vote, or B) better than what Indiana has done.

But, somehow, Ron does.

I bet he couldn't explain why he does.

But, according to his latest ballot, he absolutely does.

Coaches poll: I don't think Murray State is one of the nation's 10 best teams.

If you do, that's fine.

I don't have an issue provided you really believe it. But what I do have an issue with is how the Racers are moving up the polls based on little more than the fact that they play in the Ohio Valley Conference and every other relevant team does not. They are advancing because they're spending each week playing grossly inferior opponents while a Big Ten team might host Ohio State one night and be at Michigan the next. Put another way, there are lots of weeks when a split should be considered a good week. But splits almost always move teams down in the polls while 2-0 weeks move folks up. And while that's somewhat OK in most cases because the power-conference schedules tend to balance themselves out over time, this simple approach to ranking creates issues when a solid team from a bad league gets involved.

That's what's happening here.

That's why the Racers are ranked 10th.

So my question is simple: When does it stop?

If Kansas loses to Baylor late Monday but then beats Texas this weekend while Murray State handles Morehead State and SIU-Edwardsville, are voters gonna move the No. 7 Jayhawks below Murray State based on the idea that KU went 1-1 while Murray State went 2-0? I hope not. Because weeks, like overall records, need context, and it's silly to continue to advance the Racers without considering the context of what their wins really show and what others' losses really mean.

That's why we've kept the Racers at No. 20.

Because that's about where they belong regardless of how many consecutive OVC schools they beat.
Posted on: January 9, 2012 3:39 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 3:47 pm

The Poll Attacks

By Gary Parrish

Associated Press poll: I thought Steve Spurrier was wrong when he went at Ron Morris.

I defended Ron on that one.

But I can't defend Ron's AP basketball ballot almost ever ... and certainly not this week.

Come on, Ron.

Connecticut at No. 7?


Listen, I think the Huskies have the potential to be great thanks to a roster that includes Shabazz Napier, Ryan Boatright, Jeremy Lamb and Andre Drummond, but they haven't been close to great yet. They don't have a single win over a team currently ranked in the AP poll, and they have obviously bad losses to UCF and Rutgers (plus a double-digit loss to Seton Hall). That's the resume of a school that doesn't belong in the top 25 at all, much less the top 10. So not only do I think it's ridiculous that Ron has UConn all the way up at No. 7, I also think it's silly for AP voters to have Jim Calhoun's team 17th. The Huskies have done nothing to earn that ranking and plenty to lose it. They shouldn't be ranked right now.

And neither should Florida.

But the Gators are 19th in the AP poll and 11th on Ron's ballot.

The first part of that sentence is ridiculous, the second part inexplicable.

(Note to Ron: You've got to get it together, man. This isn't even fun anymore.)

How can anybody have Florida 11th when the Gators are 12-4 with zero wins over teams receiving votes in the AP poll and losses to Rutgers and Tennessee, two schools with a combined record of 17-14? As is the case with UConn, I like Florida's roster and think Billy Donovan will get things straight. But on Jan. 9 teams ought to have bodies of work that in some way support their rankings. UConn and Florida, right now, do not.

Coaches poll: I was down with Harvard being ranked earlier in the season.

But not now.

Not anymore.

Because the Crimson took a horrendous loss last week at Fordham, and because their best win -- a neutral-site win over Florida State -- can no longer be considered impressive. The Seminoles were ranked when Harvard beat them; now they're just a 9-6 team with losses to Princeton and Clemson. So Harvard has zero wins over teams receiving votes in the latest coaches poll, and a loss to a school ranked 238th at KenPom.com. Is that resume really worth a top 25 ranking?

Answer: Absolutely not.

That's why we dropped Harvard from our rankings.

The men with votes in the coaches poll should've followed our lead.
Posted on: January 7, 2012 2:49 pm
Edited on: January 7, 2012 2:58 pm

Florida can't guard and that's costing the Gators

By Gary Parrish

There's nothing wrong with losing at Ohio State.

Or Syracuse.

But now Florida has also lost at Rutgers.

And Tennessee.

So it's time to start asking questions because with half the regular season now in the past the 13th-ranked Gators are sitting here with zero wins over ranked opponents and two losses to unranked opponents, and they are 0-4 in true road games. Not a single part of that sentence is good. And neither is Florida's defense, which is among the most obvious problems.

Tennessee shot 51 percent against Florida in Saturday's 67-56 win at Thompson-Boling Arena and in the process highlighted one of the under-the-radar truths of this season -- that the Gators are awful defensively. They entered the weekend with a defense that allowed an average of 96.4 points per every 100 possessions, which ranked 103rd nationally and was worst among Top 25 teams by 18 spots. So while it was surprising that Tennessee beat the Gators just three days after losing by 18 at Memphis, it was not too shocking that the Vols scored at a nice rate against them.

Almost every decent team does.

And that's what must get fixed if Florida plans to challenge Kentucky in the SEC. Last season's Elite Eight team ranked 35th in defensive efficiency, and Billy Donovan's back-to-back championship teams ranked fifth and 12. Those are the kinds of numbers that allow you to win in March. What Florida's doing right now does not.

Photo: US Presswire
Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 4, 2012 3:10 pm
Edited on: January 4, 2012 3:11 pm

Podcast: Midseason awards; Syracuse is overrated

By Matt Norlander

We're in the throes of conference play now, so the podcast takes this opportunity to share the best and worst of the college hoops season so far. How can Syracuse be overrated? Parrish tells you how. To be clear: this is the opinion of Gary Parrish and Gary Parrish only.

I think this is a top-two or top-three podcast we've recorded. Just a good energy and pace and dialogue. Plus, I can't get enough of the way Parrish says "dribbler." If only I could share with you the things that didn't make the cut. Today's podcast was interrupted by profanity, a mailman and a bad Internet connection. It was also delayed in going to publishing. But we're here, and you should love this one. 

  • From the beginning: Parrish will be on TV tonight. Goodman will not. Parrish compares himself to Jude Law.
  • 1:52: Michigan State, Wisconsin and that clock controversy that should have never been. We start with Wisconsin. Should we trust them still?
  • 5:22: On Michigan State, a team with 14 straight wins and angling at a No. 2 seed right now.
  • 9:04: A "Falling Down" reference, which means this podcast rules.
  • 9:12: Who's the best point guard in the country right now?
  • 11:49: The Joe Jackson situation which almost became a massive issue at Memphis over the weekend.
  • 17:39: We transition to Jarnell Stokes, who could be playing for Tennessee soon after transferring there. Parrish and Goodman make the case he should wait until next fall.
  • 22:04: Our midseason awards will be up on the blog tomorrow, so we tease each other and basically insult each other's selections at the end of the podcast.

You can listen to the CBSSports.com College Basketball Podcast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The podcasts are posted here and simultaneously through iTunes (link below). Each Wednesday CBSSports.com national writers Jeff Goodman and Gary Parrish hop on to banter and bicker. Mondays and Fridays are reserved for the most prominent voices in and around the game. Here's the iTunes subcription link. We also have an RSS feed for you to track. I don't believe they are making Zunes anymore, but nonetheless, I've been instructed to link you on how to listen via that device, too.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com