As fans of UK's "revenue" sports, we are familiar with the expression "trust the process." Football coach Mark Stoops has been tasked with the monumental process of rebuilding a broken program. Basketball coach John Calipari's annual efforts to mold a young and talented group of individuals into a cohesive and singular unit capable of contending for a NCAAT is a "process."
The Philadelphia 76ers and Sam Hinkie
"The process" in the forefront nationally, however, is the plan devised by Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie to bring the storied franchise back to competitiveness. Get ready for an extended rant! NBA! Tanking!
If you want a comprehensive description of the Hinkie's philosophy, check this out. TL;DR: based on the NBA maxim that contenders build via hitting on superstars in the NBA Draft Lottery, one must: 1) amass a multitude of draft picks, to be used to both select players and act as fodder to facilitate deals to obtain higher picks; 2) do not overpay free agents, which essentially means don't sign any free agents [some of the insane contracts doled out last summer were $10 million+ deals to Iman Shumpert, Omer Asik, and Wilson Chandler; or an inexplicable $18 million to Reggie Jackson, which is John Wall money]; and 3) focus on player development in the meantime. Unsurprisingly, following this plan means a considerable amount of losing until the plan is fully realized.
Arguably, the culmination of Hinkie's "process" is the upcoming 2016 NBA Draft which, if protections fall correctly, will see the 76ers select four times in the first round. The Sixer fan spotlight has shifted from the 2016 Draft, as everyone knows by now, to the recent hiring of Jerry Colangelo, basketball luminary, to the front office.
The Implications of the Colangelo Hiring
The coverage of the Colangelo hiring is illustrative of the unfortunate truth that, even with countless outlets producing 24-hour sports coverage, you still have to do your research to get the whole story.
The mention of the story goes far beyond "reporting;" in fact, the juiciest parts are pure conjecture that serves the entrenched anti-Sixer sentiment espoused by the majority of media. Speculation that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver forced ownership to hire Colangelo and that Colangelo will be the new boss.
Here’s what one would know if they listened during the Colangelo press conference:
*Colangelo is still going to live in Phoenix. That, combined with the fact that he is 76 years old, does not suggest that he’ll be participating in day-to-day operations.
*Colangelo will directly report to ownership, but nothing will change with respect to roster-related decision making. Hinkie is still the boss and possesses the final say.
*The Sixers began to explore the hiring when two things came to a head: 1) the behavioral issues of rookie lottery selection Jahlil Okafor, and 2) a seemingly irreparable relationship between Hinkie and some of the more prominent player agents, as well as the media.
So what does this mean? Since everyone's adopting their own theory, whether they're informed by facts or not, I am going to cast my lot with Kyle Neubeck. From his Sixers rebuild piece over at Liberty Ballers:
It's even possible that Colangelo is meant to appease someone -- minority owners? disgruntled fans? ornery media? -- without much consideration for power dynamics. It's fun to imagine him as Harvey Dent to Hinkie's Batman, a crusading public symbol that can stir hope while the cloaked hero pulls strings and fights crime in the darkness. Both are important and ideally could combine into one person, but all that matters for the franchise is that the duo succeeds, period.
Did NBA Commissioner Adam Silver really have a hand in Colangelo's addition to Philly's front office?
I ardently doubt it. First of all, Silver has championed, though word and deed, a very hands-off approach to NBA franchises.
Next, correlation does not imply causation. It's a certainty that other organizations take issue with the 76ers' "process." But that's not enough to convince me that they were so upset with it that they demanded that Silver act. Further, other franchises have exhibited solidarity with the 76ers during "the process." Though many believe it was only the 76ers who opposed lottery reform last year, it takes more than one team to shut down any proposal. As such, we ultimately learned that twelve other franchises opposed the reform and it did not pass.
Thirdly, most reports (including the one above) cite "negative effects on revenue" as the main reason that other organizations urged Silver to intervene. This cannot be a novel complaint among owners and it's utterly lazy to simply tack it on to "tanking." Bad teams have existed long before these Sixers, and bad teams have always negatively affected revenues, whether they are "trying" to win or not.
Finally, if Silver is going to step in to prevent Philly's "tanking," he needs to recognize that there are other teams out there losing on purpose. In other words, he's going to create a lot of extra work for himself. To begin with, I guess Silver needs to force Lakers coach Byron Scott to reconsider his inexplicable decision to bench Julius Randle and D'Angelo Russell. This stinks of "tank," especially since, if the Lakers' '16 first rounder falls outside the top 3, it gets conveyed to Philadelphia. Philly is certainly the most unsubtle organization when it comes to angling for top lottery position, but it's not the only one angling.
Tweet of the Week
Excellent work by the @GUStonewalls. pic.twitter.com/3oNWVm9Ic9— Casual Hoya (@CasualHoya) December 5, 2015
This is actually from last weekend, but, to me, the Boeheim nose-pick image never loses its comedic luster. In case you missed it, Boeheim's suspension, issued last year, was upheld by the NCAA, but its start time was moved up. Originally, it was set to commence when conference play kicked off. Syracuse is 1-1 since the suspension began.
Interestingly, the NCAA has indicated that the Tournament Selection Committee will take Boeheim's suspension into consideration in March. Hm. Okay.
*#4 Iowa State was the only ranked team in action last night and it edged out rival Iowa, 83-82 at home. The Cyclones were down 20+ points at one point in the game. ISU remains unbeaten.
The bigger story is that after the game, during a court storming, an ISU beat writer's leg was broken in the pandemonium.
*Nine Wildcat games into the season, only one of the their deficiencies is starting to worry me -- perimeter shooting. John Clay takes a look at the numbers, which are not encouraging. Most worrisome to me is Tyler Ulis' regression, though I'm hoping he returns to last season's form (or improves upon it) when his elbow is completely healthy. I guess that also means hoping that the elbow actually gets completely healthy.
*Duke-UNC gets the nod from Sporting News for the best NCAAB rivalry, besting UK-U of L. You can't go wrong with either one, obviously. Check out the Wikipedia page for the UK-U of L Rivalry. It's extremely informative.
*Alabama lost a starter, PG Dazon Ingram, for the season to a broken foot. Sophomore Justin Coleman should take his place in the starting lineup.
*Dayton beat Vandy on Wednesday night. Dayton is a perennial NCAAT team now, so this isn't a bad loss. Of note, though, is Vandy's offensive struggles in the interior. Dayton outscored them 40-22 in the paint. Why does that matter? UK should have the edge in that part of the matchup in January, considering they poured in 58 points in the paint against EKU on Wednesday night.
*2016 5* SG Rawle Alkins' latest blog only mentions St. John's, NCSU and UNC. No UK. He's unlikely to come to Lexington, but I'll watch and support Rowdy Rawle wherever he ends up, as long as they aren't playing UK.
*If you need brought up to speed on how Matthew Mitchell's UK Hoops squad is doing, this will do the trick. Mitchell's ability to keep his group top 10 nationally despite all of the recent roster turnover is extremely impressive.
*UK Hoops crushed U of L last night. Here is the box score and here is Warren's recap.
*ESPN presents the many faces of Will Muschamp. I'm surprised by how many people are laughing at the hire. Do I think Muschamp will bring a championship to Columbia? No, but I think he can ultimately exceed Steve Spurrier's average of 7.5 wins per season and be a perennial contender in the SECE.
Muschamp can recruit. According to Rivals, his worst class (2011, which he had to keep together in the midst of Urban Meyer's unceremonious departure) was ranked #12, his best class (2012) was #3 and UF was never outside the top ten during his tenure. Muschamp is also bringing Travaris Robinson with him from Auburn to coordinate the defense. Robinson was chosen as the #1 recruiter in the nation by ESPN in 2014.
Muschamp also had an 11-2 season in Gainesville in 2012 in which he won the SEC Title and made a BCS bowl. UK fans should remember that team by the 38-0 pasting the Gators put on the 'Cats that fall.
Once again, Muschamp is unlikely to rule the SEC from South Carolina. But he's going to get good athletes to come there, he knows defense, and it appears that he has a stable offensive staff (including Kurt Roper and G.A. Mangus) to cover up that glaring deficiency on his resume.
*Ivan Maisel details the ten plays that made the College Football Playoff Race. Interestingly, and appropriately, Maisel indicates that, among the SEC Henrys, it was Arkansas TE Hunter Henry that had a greater influence on how it all shook out than Alabama RB Derrick Henry, the current Heisman favorite.
*Former UK QB Patrick Towles hopes to use his one year at an as-yet-unknown school to vault himself into the NFL. Towles has the size and there was frequent NFL buzz about him during the season. At one point, ESPN's Mel Kiper considered Towles a premier underclassman QB. NFL Draft Scout currently ranks Towles #16 among QBs for 2017, just a few spots behind Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield, who was considered a Heisman dark horse candidate as the 2015 season wound down.
*Michael Baumann, a guy whose work I've seen on SB Nation blogs, opines in a piece for The Atlantic that the future of college football is bleak. Baumann notes:
College football players participate in America's longest and most brutal unpaid internship.
The "unpaid internship" part significantly resonates with me because I think it extracts the "scholarship-as-compensation" aspect of the argument that divides people on the "pay for play" issue and allows us to focus on the issue of what sacrifices a player makes in return for the opportunity to play college football instead of what is and is not compensation.
*The Home Depot College Football Awards were presented last night. Here is a list of the winners. A trio of SEC players were recognized.
*USA Today conducted a survey of assistant coaches' salaries and it's intriguing. No one can accuse UK of not putting money into the staff:
The overall pay for Kentucky's assistant coaches ranked 30th nationally in 2015.
*The C-J continues its UK positional post-season review, this time focusing on the ILBs.
*UM's star TE Jake Butt is returning to Ann Arbor for his senior season. Thank heavens.
*Zach Lowe looks back at the season thus far, 25% of the way in. There are plenty of former 'Cat mentions in this one. There is undoubtedly a prominent UK stamp on today's NBA.
*The data suggests that 73-9, or even better, is a real possibility for the reigning NBA champion '15-'16 Golden State Warriors. If you haven't dabbled in NBA season, you need to, and it needs to be a Warriors game, even if you have to stay up late.
*Anthony Davis MVP Watch vis à vis a New Orleans Pelicans update: NOT GOOD and MISERABLE. By the way, the Pels are hosting John Wall's Washington Wizards tonight for "Star Wars" night.
*ESPN's Jeremy Fowler and Coley Harvey comparatively break down tape of mega-WRs Antonio Brown and A.J. Green in anticipation of the Steelers' visit to Cincinnati on Sunday. The Bengals are comfortable, having clinched the AFC North, while the Steelers must treat each of their remaining games like playoff games if they want to sneak into the postseason as a wild card.
*Beach House's "Depression Cherry" is my favorite album of 2015. It's haunting and elegiac low-key, psychedelic dream pop featuring swirling organs, fuzz guitar, and ghostly vocals. Listening to this one on vinyl with good headphones is remarkably illustrative of how much better vinyl sounds than the compressed audio files we have all become accustomed to.
*Mike Konczal assesses the current student-loan crisis and how business groups are addressing it.
*Babies born at OSU's Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, OH, where I live, are wrapped in OSU Buckeye blankets after birth. Apparently, no one has ever refused the blanket for their child. I would.