Here are some of the stories today from around the world of hoops…
The NBA saga continues as David Stern continues to state that more regular season games are about to get the axe unless a deal is reached. He’s now going as far as saying there will be no Christmas games if an agreement isn’t in place after Tuesday:
“Right now, Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday, just before my owners come into town, having brought in the labor relations committee and Billy (Hunter) having brought in his executive committee, it’s time to make the deal,” Stern said Thursday. “If we don’t make it on Tuesday, my gut — this is not in my official capacity of canceling games — but my gut is that we won’t be playing on Christmas Day.”
But interestingly enough, it isn’t the money that seems to be the sticking point, despite what everyone has claimed up until now. The biggest hurdle to an agreement appears to be the salary cap, and that means competitive balance is a major issue for the owners.
Maryland basketball is already in transition with first-year head coach Mark Turgeon and now also is dealing with eligibility issues for Alex Len, a 7’1″ big man from the Ukraine:
…an NCAA spokesman said Thursday that the NCAA Eligibility Center was “not anywhere close” to determining Len’s status.
“There has been no decision made one way or the other on this young man’s eligibility,” NCAA spokesman Chuck Wynne said in a telephone interview. “We’re not anywhere close to decision-making stage.”
Roster shuffles are common when there is a change in coaching staff, but it’s unlikely that Turgeon would feel comfortable losing a 7-footer right before the season starts.
UNC basketball, poised at what most people expect to be a monumental season, kicks off their Late Night with Roy this weekend, just as several other high profile basketball programs will. However, Roy Williams may have one more reason to smile, as UNC has extended his contract through 2018:
n the deal announced Thursday, Williams’ base salary will be $325,000 with supplemental income ranging from $1.35 million to $1.65 million.
He will receive a $30,000 expense allowance this season and $40,000 in each of the next six years and is also eligible for standard bonuses for reaching and advancing through the NCAA Tournament and for meeting or exceeding a NCAA academic progress rate.
Finally, speaking of Midnight Madness events, we reflect on the “father” of Midnight Madness, none other than former Terp head man Lefty Driesell. Lefty was trying to get his players’ workout in with enough time for them to recover before their first practice, and he had no idea that it would become a huge tradition in the world of college basketball:
All Lefty wanted to do was to get his players to run a six-minute mile to be fit for fall practice later that afternoon, after a good night’s sleep. The year before, Lefty’s first season, the Terps ran their mile right before practice. But because so many were too gassed to dribble a ball immediately afterward, this time Lefty chose to run them just after midnight on October 15th, the first day that colleges can hold a sanctioned practice.
“Another reason why I had ‘em run at midnight,” said Lefty, “was because if someone didn’t finish in six minutes, they had to keep running the mile before they could practice. Well, too many players came in after six minutes. It messed up my practices. I didn’t have enough players to hold practice.”