Wait continues on Stark waiver
What’s happening outside Champaign-Urbana:
1 No one outside the NCAA offices in Indianapolis knows what the organization’s real guidelines are in terms of granting athletes waivers to compete immediately after a transfer. We’re still waiting to hear on Ahmad Starks nearly four months after he left Oregon State to come to Illinois. Guys you don’t think will get the waiver get them — and vice versa. Kerwin Okoro seemed like a no-brainer when the New Yorker transferred to Rutgers from Iowa State. Last season, Okoro’s 28-year-old brother died of colon cancer soon after his dad died of a stroke. He understandably wanted to be closer to his mother. But the NCAA ruled he had to sit out. Only after outside pressure — most notably from Dick Vitale — did the NCAA relent. It took arm twisting to get this one right, but at least the correct decision was made.
2 It’s one of those where-were-you-when-you-saw-it moments, Louisville’s Kevin Ware going down in pain in front of his team’s bench during the regional final with a compound fracture to his leg. It was gruesome. Teammates and spectators cried at the sight of the injury. It was thought to be career threatening. Well, Ware has made his way back and the junior guard was videoed last week dunking in practice. No official announcement has been made about Ware’s prospects for the 2013-14 season, but with two months before the games begin, it’s looking like he is set for an improbable return to the national champs’ rotation this season.
3 Are you an Illinois fan who is going to miss seeing Brandon Miller’s face on your television screen? While he won’t be manning his perch on the Illini bench whispering strategies to John Groce, the new Butler coach will get plenty of exposure at his alma mater. Butler will play a program-record 22 games on national TV this season, a remarkable number considering it lost superstar coach Brad Stevens to the NBA and is two years removed from the back-to-back runs to the Final Four. The move to the Big East and the launch of Fox Sports 1 and 2 are contributing factors. It’s great news for Miller, who will have his work cut out in Year 1 after so many major contributors either graduated or were injured.
Top college basketball analysts on TV
Jay Bilas, ESPN
Smart, with an unmatched ability to break down a game. Also the NCAA’s most high-profile critic.
Dan Dakich, ESPN
Love him or hate him, the former Indiana guard and coach isn’t afraid to call out coaches, players or officials.
Stephen Bardo, BTN
Amazed ESPN let the former Illini go. He’s knowledgeable and has flair to his style.
Jimmy Dykes, ESPN
Knows his Xs and Os — but also knows how to have fun. Love the accent, too.
Doris Burke, ESPN
Dismissed by many because of her gender, former Providence star knows so much even Gregg Popovich raves about her knowledge.
Greg Anthony, CBS
New lead analyst for the Final Four is insightful and clear and should be a nice partner for Jim Nantz.
Doug Gottlieb, CBS
Can come off as arrogant, but former Oklahoma State point guard a good evaluator of talent.
Bill Raftery, Fox Sports
The best thing about the former Seton Hall coach is his wit and the fact that he doesn’t take himself too serious.
Fran Fraschilla, ESPN
Former coach usually educates viewers on something each game. Knowledge of international players is unmatched.
Dick Vitale, ESPN
Another one people love or love to hate. His passion and enthusiasm for the game: unmatched.
3 questions for ...
... former Illinois manager and Tuscola native Matt McCumber,
who recently joined Bruce Weber’s staff at Kansas State
After a year in private business, how did this opportunity come about for you?
I was on a flight to Florida to have vacation with my family and when I got off the flight I had a voicemail from Coach Weber and said there might be a possible opportunity for me. He said Coach (Wayne) McClain’s position opened and wanted to see if I was interested in it because he knew I had a pretty decent job in Dallas in medical device sales. We talked on the phone six, seven times in about a week to two weeks and worked on some contract details. It just kind of materialized after that.
What are your responsibilities as director of student-athlete development?
My main responsibilities are all team academics. I’m responsible for setting our guys up in helping with their classes and making sure they’re getting credit hours for their intended major. I also deal with the life skills program at the university as far as what they do with their careers after they graduate so that if they don’t have an opportunity in basketball once they graduate, they’re prepared for the real world and they can use their degree in a manner they see fit. I do some scouting and break down videos for the scouting report to help the assistant coaches because they’ve got other things going on, too, and they can’t watch every video, so I help prepare that and break down some video for them.
You’ve worked on staffs at Texas A&M, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, Illinois, how did those stops prepare you for this one?
The good thing about NIU and Southern is they’re smaller programs and as the director of operations and as a grad assistant I basically had to do everything within the office setting. At K-State, we have so many support staff members there are so many people doing a lot of things so your workload is a little bit less. At the midmajor programs you’ve got your hand in everything in the program. You’re a secretary, a video coordinator, academics and you’re dealing with the players, scouting. When I got here, I had a good base, a good foundation of a lot of different things that if I would have taken this right out of college, I wouldn’t have those experiences. Being a manager at Illinois is a thankless job and you’re the low man on the totem pole, but it instills work ethic in you and allows you to be around a bigger program so that when you get these types of opportunities, you know what it’s going to be about.