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Notes, Quotes and Slants

College Notebook No. 2
Monday, April 5, 2005

By Denny O'Brien

Tranghese still doesn't get it


Mike Tranghese deserves an 'A' for effort.

But at some point the embattled Big East commissioner must acknowledge what he has refused to recognize — that oversized, hybrid leagues in which the membership is split on its mission cannot survive.

His first attempt crashed just as it was taking flight. Once Miami rejuvenated itself and Virginia Tech was elevated to elite status, the ACC updated its pigskin wardrobe by stealing the Big East's best football outfits.

The jury is still out on take two, but history suggests a similar result.

"We've got work to do in football," Tranghese said in October 2004. "It's a challenge but we're excited about it. For all the criticism we're going to take on the football side, which I think is overwhelming, the praise of the basketball side is going to be overwhelming."

Even so, football controls the Benjamins in college athletics. And sooner or later, the Big East must tap into the riches of big-time college football — the riches that extend far beyond the Bowl Championship Series.

With only eight football members, the possibilities are limited. Television dictates much of how cash is dispersed, and fewer schools means fewer markets and less leverage for the conference at the negotiating table.

Advantage TV suits.

That goes without mentioning the potential losses the Big East will suffer from its dismal bowl outlook. It's hard to imagine an eight-team league securing five attractive bowl tie-ins.

And don't forget the looming possibility of a 12-game regular season. Ask Louisville AD Tom Jurich how difficult it will be to schedule five non-conference opponents on an annual basis.

This is why the Big East is facing a potential stare-down between its gridiron and hardwood contingent. Football can't prosper without expansion, while multiplying likely would do more harm than good to hoops.

Yet Tranghese insists his new league is the model for cohesion.

To a certain degree, Conference USA commissioner Britton Banowsky deserves some credit. When his league was pillaged, he remodeled it with a more sturdy foundation.

Instead of maintaining the hybrid configuration that eventually destroyed C-USA, Banowsky envisioned a league in which each school had southern roots and an athletics mission underscored by football.

In doing so, he constructed a conference with a clear direction and legitimate chance to endure future invasions by other leagues. As a result, Banowsky should easily be able to replenish the cupboard in the event that a pair of his schools are courted elsewhere.

Tranghese doesn't have that luxury. It may sound strange, but the Big East boss could learn something from his C-USA colleague.

Cerebral hoops

The Princeton offense couldn't have a more befitting name. And the reason extends further than the fact that its inception occurred at the Ivy League school.

ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla said the Princeton 'O' is the "epitome" of team basketball. Instead of relying on one or two superstars for execution, this system requires all five players to make it successful.

Princeton made it famous during the Pete Carril era, which included a 1996 upset over UCLA in the NCAA Tournament. During Carril's regime, the Tigers focused on spreading the floor, reading the defense, and utilizing backdoor cuts to get easy baskets.

It was an approach that helped the Tigers' narrow the talent gap by limiting their own mistakes and lulling the opposing defense to sleep.

Several schools have adopted Carrilball and have enjoyed postseason success as a result. Most notably, N.C. State and West Virginia run variations of the Princeton system, and each advanced far in this year's tournament.

It isn't the most exciting style of basketball, but coaches aren't paid to entertain.

Chip shot

The NCAA needs to lengthen the distance of the three-point line. The ease with which long-range bombers nailed treys in the NCAA Tournament magnifies the need for change.

At 19-feet, nine-inches, the three-point arc isn't much of a challenge anymore (not that it ever was). Next to the NBA, it is a mid-range jumper.

So much so that shooters sank 47.5 percent of their long-range bombs in the NCAA Regional Finals.

The NCAA basketball rules committee recommended last May to extend the three-point arc to 20-feet, six-inches, which is the length used in international play. In a survey circulated by the NCAA, 65 percent of the coaches favor such a move.

About time.

Not only would lengthening the distance likely reduce the number of three-pointers taken per game, it also would create more space for pivot men down low.

Coach K's commercial overblown

Thanks to an American Express commercial, Duke apparently will supersize its order of McDonald's All-Americans. At least that's what Blue Devils opposition would have you believe.

The commercial, which has been airing during the NCAA Tournament, briefly showcases the Duke program under K, touches on the coach's principles, and makes statements about the expectations of players who don the royal blue.

Not exactly front page news. Even so, critics have suggested that the Amex ad essentially is a propaganda video that will aid the Devils heavily on the recruiting trail.

In case anyone hasn't noticed, Duke already has more than 30 recruiting videos that are televised each year. It's called a season.

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02/23/2007 01:59:45 AM

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