April 28, 2008

Hey kids! You smell that? After a brief stint on the IR while covering college basketball, the Dean's List is back, bringing you the best and worst that college sports has to offer.

• Every dog has its day. And Johnny Dawkins just had his. The 11-year Duke assistant basketball coach has been named the head coach at Stanford. Good for you, Johnny. You were a talented player, but you've been sitting in Coach K's shadow for way too long. Regardless of your poise and quiet determination, it was a well-known fact among the Iron Dukes that you weren't going to succeed the Master after his retirement, so why stick around? Was it Durham in the spring time? I doubt it. Now you've scored a gig at an institution with similarly high academic and basketball standards and you don't have to bring Coach K a breakfast sandwich every morning.

• If you can't beat 'em physically, beat 'em mentally. That's the Duke baseball way. In a tight race for the final spot in the ACC Tournament, the Blue Devils faced off against Clemson last week. After a four-run comeback in the ninth, the Tigers blasted a tater to take a two-run lead in the 11th. Game over, Tigers win. Right? Not so fast. After the two-run shot, a Duke official informed the ump that there'd been lightening spotted in the area (10 miles away) and the game was delayed 30 minutes. As the game was about to restart, the rain finally started to fall, but instead of covering the infield with water resistant material, Duke just sat in the dugout. The grounds crew having already clocked out, Blue Devils' coach Sean McNally claimed that, with a lightning warning, he wasn't required to use his players to put down a tarp. And he was right. The field got wet. The game got called and the Blue Devils escaped with a tie.

• It's one thing to win the Ivy League tournament, but it's a whole other thing to shut out your opponents in all three games. That's what the Dartmouth rugby team did this weekend in New York City, running up an aggregate tournament score of 145-0. The Big Green beat Columbia, 40-0 and Penn, 64-0, before the much anticipated finals - a 41-0 drubbing of Harvard. Dartmouth has now won three out of the last four Ivy League tournaments and eight of the last 11 (in the interest of full disclosure. I went to Dartmouth and hate Harvard -- but, c'mon, everyone hates Harvard).

• Hasheem Thabeet and Tyler Hansbrough will both carry on their college basketball careers for one more year. One player didn't need the money, the other did but chose to return anyways. The Dean's List has a feeling that both these centers are going to have more successful careers than Derrick Caracter, who has chosen to enter the NBA draft after his sophomore season, despite Coach Rick Pitino's declaration that Caracter just isn't ready.

• The Dean's List would like to honor a man of many superlatives -- former Arizona interim basketball coach Kevin O'Neill, who was recently "promoted" to assistant athletic director. Poor O'Neill, when coach Lute Olson took a leave of absence to protect his assets, transfer a few funds and divorce his wife, the loyal assistant took over a Wildcats basketball team heavy on talent but little else and guided them to the school's 24th consecutive tournament appearance. And how is he rewarded upon Olson's return? He's reassigned to a position far away from his former basketball team, a move akin to sending a Russian dissident circus performer to Siberia. Keep your head up, Coach O'Neill, at least you don't have to bring Coach Olson a breakfast sandwich first thing in the morning anymore.

• The Dean's List rarely makes blanket statements, but here goes -- Facebook and college athletes don't mix. Arguments? Not from University of Buffalo guard Andy Robinson who has been suspended indefinitely from the team for posting this ad on Facebook that offered to pay one lucky fan to write his course paper. The message:

"I am paying anybody who have read the book, 'There are No Children Here' by Alex Kotlowitz $30-40 which in some classes you have to read a UB (even more money if you have to read the book a little more!!) to write a 3-4 page paper, on a couple of questions which was assigned."

With grammar like that, can you blame the kid for trying to get someone else to write his term paper?

• Florida State and Miami don't like each other too much ... and the rivalry isn't limited to just football. Last weekend, the Seminoles and 'Canes faced off as the top two baseball teams in the country and, after Miami took two out of three from the home team, a fracas ensued. That's right, not a fight, but the less severe "fracas." Miami players celebrated too much after the game. FSU players confronted them. Words, but not punches, were exchanged and as the Miami players headed to the locker rooms, Seminole fans spit and threw soda on them. In the end, everyone was just happy that Ray Lewis and Peter Boulware weren't playing.

• Everybody has this idea that a run deep into the NCAA Basketball tournament by a small school will lure more recruits and boost the program from relative anonymity to greatness. But the Dean's List isn't so sure of that. Look at George Mason. Sure, the Patriots made a lot of money from their 2006 tournament run, but have they significantly boosted the state of their program? It's got to be even tougher for Davidson, which made it to the Elite Eight this year, but also has the added burden of academic standards for its athletes. So far, the Wildcats haven't succeeded in recruiting a single scholarship player for next season. Coach Bob McKillop had a 6-foot-8, 225-pound baller named Alex Vouyoukas all lined up, but Vouyoukas didn't qualify academically to attend Davidson. Not that Wildcat fans are too worried. Stephen Curry doesn't need hands to score, never mind teammates to win.

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