Sunday, October 25, 2009

Roster Moves -- Post Midnight Madness

The Teams Began Practice, Except for...
A few more add/drops in the aftermath of Midnight Madness and the formal opening of Fall practice. The players are on campus, the last few unaccounted for adds are players waiting for NCAA clearance to practice/play. The drops on the other hand are nearly equal parts injury (regrettable but predictable), coach's decision (or non-decision as the case may be...) and civil/school discipline.

Cincinnati -- Rumors persist that Top 10 recruit Lance Stephenson is close, but not yet -- cleared to play. The NCAA has reviewed his transcripts & indicated his academics are in order. The hangup is the family's finances with attention focused on , but he should be cleared any day.

Connecticut -- The Courant's Mike Anthony spotted the much anitcipated recruit Atar Majok wearing a boot -- and out of the team cross country run (won by senior Gavin Edwards) the week of Midnight Madness. Majok was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his left tibia. Healing time is expected to be 4 - 6 weeks, which, given his eligibility schdule, (about mid-December), means this should have no impact on his playing time. Senior reserve center Jon Mandeldove was asked to sit out the fall semester to get himself in shape. Though pretty much confirmed by Coach Calhoun ("not set in stone" per the Husky Head Coach), it nevertheless sounds a bit strange.

Louisville -- Senior swingman Jerry Smith and sophomore bf Terrence Jennings were arrested over the Columbus Day Weekend alumni homecoming party in Jeffersonville, Ind. If the details were sketchy, Louisville's response was not. The AD will impose no penalties on the athletes.

St. John's
Fifth year senior Anthony Mason will miss 4 - 6 weeks of the season with a right hamstring injury. Coach Norm Roberts indicated Mason, plagued by injuries to his right ankle and tendon last season which eventually forced him to take a redshirt, might be ready for Big East play.

Assessing the Impact
The consensus opinion from those around the program is that Stephenson will qualify, and sooner rather than later. The Bearcats, starved for point production last season, should improve offensively this season with or without Stephenson (Cashmire Wright will take the point, giving Vaughn a license to roam and look for his spots), but having the consensus Top 15 recruit qualify quickly and get into serious game preparation can only help the team and Stephenson.

Matok's rehab coincides with his waiting period. He should be cleared to play (medically and academically) by the end of the fall semester. The question for Matok may be whether he will be 100% this season. He was supposed to be available last season (fall of 2008), but academics, a flirtation with the NBA and now this injury serve as an ongoing stream of distractions for him. I really don't know what to make of Mandeldove's status. His contributions to the program have been extremely limited over the course of his UConn career. The program does not appear to need his scholarship this semester, and he does not appear to be a negative influence/distraction to the program.

Smith and Jennings will most likely get no blowback from their Indiana Adventure. The episode amounts to another distraction for a program that needs to focus on the challenge of replacing the contributions of the departed Terrence Williams and Earl Clark. The civil authorities have yet to adjudicate the players' case, but the DA appears to have decided on a single charge of reisting arrest, which I suspect will be reduced to something on the order of "refusal to heed an officer", as the police cannot charge a suspect with resisting arrest unless they attempt to arrest him (her?) for something first (see the problem?).

A fully recovered Mason Jr. would be a contributor to the Red Storm team and program, but his injuries, and absence for rehabilitation, have severely diminished his influence with the team and the potential for his having a significant impact on St. John's games this season. Coach Norm Robert, in a pre Media Day interview with ESPN's Andy Katz, suggested that adjustments made last season in response to Mason's season-ending injury served to minimize the impact of his last round of ailments.

And Then There's...
Corey Chandler, who might hold the record for speed transferring through DI programs. Chandler, a junior off guard, was dismissed by Coach Fred Hill in early August for an unspecified breach of team rules. Chandler turned up at Binghamton about 2½ weeks later, prepared to sit out the 2009-10 season, and pick up his DI career in 2010-11. When Bearcat guard Tiki Mayben was busted in late September Coach Kevin Broadus dismissed 4 of Mayben's teammates, Chandler included. Two DI programs in less than six weeks has to be a record. No news yet where Chandler will turn up next.

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