Posted on: March 4, 2012 12:27 pm
Edited on: March 4, 2012 12:30 pm

Source: Rhode Island fires Jim Baron

By Jeff Goodman

Rhode Island has parted ways with Jim Baron. 

Sources confirmed that the 57-year-old was informed of the decision on Sunday morning, following a dismal campaign in which the Rams finished 7-24 overall 4-12 in A-10 play and failed to qualify for the league tournament. 

The news was first reported by New York Times' Pete Thamel via Twitter

Baron spent 11 years in Kingston, R.I. - and won 20 games four consecutive seasons leading up to this year. 

But he was never able to get the Rams to the NCAA tournament and many in the state were upset about his salary. He had two years remaining on his contract which paid him about $600,000 per season. 

Another aspect of dismissal is that his youngest son, Billy, transferred from Virginia in the middle of last season and became eligible at the semester break this year.

Billy Baron averaged 13 points in 20 games this season.  

Posted on: February 22, 2012 10:54 am
Edited on: February 22, 2012 10:57 am

UMass' pint-sized point guard brings relevance

Chaz Williams is probably shorter than Gary Parrish. (Goodman's phone)

By Jeff Goodman

We'll have a column today on Xavier, but UMass certainly worthy of praise as the Minutemen stand one victory shy of a 20-win campaign: 

AMHERST, Mass. - Derek Kellogg had never laid eyes on Chaz Williams before. The UMass head coach and his staff did their due diligence, talked to plenty of CAA coaches who spoke glowingly of the Hofstra transfer and his toughness and ability to play far larger than his diminutive stature. 

Then the UMass coach and former point guard got his first look at Williams when he came to Amherst on a visit. 


"I thought his height was questionable," Kellogg said. 

"But he walked with a swagger," Kellogg added. "And I just figured this kid has to be able to play." 

Williams is listed at 5-foot-9, but Kellogg was already forewarned that his newest recruiting target wasn't a legit 5-9. Then he walked in the door. 

"I think he's probably 5-foot-5," Kellogg said of the Brooklyn native. 

"He's killing me," Williams said of Kellogg claiming he's 5-foot-5. 

All joking aside on Williams' stature, this kid can play. He's exactly what Kellogg has needed since he replaced Travis Ford at UMass: a legitimate floor leader. 

Admittedly, I saw Williams on his most impressive 40 minutes (he actually logged 38) as a Minuteman point guard. He was clearly the best guard on a court that also featured fellow New Yorkers Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons, going for 29 points and dishing out nine assists. 

"He did everything for us tonight," Kellogg said. "He made shots, made free throws and defended," Kellogg said. 

That hasn't always been the case, but when Williams plays this way he changes this UMass team and makes them a viable contender for a Top four spot in the A-10. The Minutemen won their 19th game last night against Xavier and improved to 8-5 in league play, which puts them in a three-way tie with the Musketeers and Saint Joseph's for third place. 

"This was as big as any win we've gotten since I've been back," Kellogg admitted after the 80-73 win. "Xavier has been the benchmark of the league -- and for us to do it with what was on the line."

Kellogg hasn't gotten UMass basketball back to what it was in the days when John Calipari was running things, but the fan support has grown as the wins have piled up and as Kellogg has altered his style of play, opting to press and run with added frequency. 

Xavier came into last night's game having won the past six in the series, but Williams and his teammates snapped that streak and while the program's point guard hasn't had to endure what most of his teammates have over the past few years, he was primed on the importance of this victory. 

"They gave me an understanding of everything," Williams said. "Guys told me how Xavier has left a bad taste in their mouth over the last few years, but this year we're turning things around and making people realize that UMass basketball is back." 

Back by Calipari standards?  No, but that'll never happen again. That's just plain unrealistic. 

However, UMass has become relevant in the A-10 again. 

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:06 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 2:15 pm

Todd O'Brien to CBSSports: 'I'll waive anything'

                                                                                                                                                                                       (US Presswire)

By Jeff Goodman

Todd O'Brien told CBSSports.com he's willing to sign anything, waive anything -- in order for Saint Joseph's to finally divulge the reason why it hasn't allowed him to play this season at UAB. 

"I have nothing to hide," O'Brien said on Monday. ""I'll sign whatever they want. "

A call to Saint Joseph's athletic director Don DiJulia was not immediately returned Monday in an effort to see if the school had any response to O'Brien's willingness to waive student privacy laws. 

O'Brien, if you recall, averaged one point per game last season at St. Joe's and transferred to UAB. He was hoping to take advantage of the NCAA's rule which allows a player to utilize his final season of eligibility immediately - pending he has graduated and will study a major that wasn't offered at his previous institution. 

St. Joe's coach Phil Martelli and the administration didn't sign off on O'Brien being allowed to compete at UAB this year -- and the NCAA upheld the decision. 

O'Brien told CBSSports.com his latest appeal by the NCAA was denied. 

No one truly knows the reason that St. Joe's hasn't allowed O'Brien the opportunity to finish his college career. 

There has been speculation that O'Brien's involvement in a stolen laptop incident -- one in which he was cleared -- played a factor. Others believe it's because Martelli felt O'Brien wasn't truthful and used the school to pay for summer classes while he knew he was transferring. There are those who feel as though Martelli won't sign it because O'Brien isn't going to UAB for academics. 

"We respect the fact we can't comment," St. Joe's athletic director Don DiJulia told CBSSports.com last week. "Due to federal privacy laws." 

But now O'Brien has made it clear he will waive whatever laws exist so that the school is forced to state its case. 

"I just want the truth to come out," O'Brien said. 

Martelli told CBSSports.com last week it was an NCAA matter and that his position remains in tune with the university. 

"That's all I can say," Martelli said. "We stand by the NCAA's decision." 

"The problem is that the NCAA is saying it's St. Joe's decision and the school is putting it on the NCAA," O'Brien said. "It's ridiculous." 

What's ridiculous is if St. Joe's continues to remain tight-lipped.

Posted on: January 4, 2012 3:16 pm

Travis Ford with a 2nd historic recruiting class

By Jeff Goodman

I wasn't certain that Travis Ford could match the recruiting class he assembled while at UMass back in 2007. Ford received nine commitments in that group - four transferred, two never arrived, two were seldom-used role guys and one wound up being a solid contributor. 

Now Ford has gone 0-for-7 with his 2009 class at Oklahoma State. 

That's two complete classes and virtually nothing to show for it. No wonder why Derek Kellogg is still trying to get things going at UMass and why Ford's team is struggling and just 7-6 this season. 

With point guards Reger Dowell and Fred Gulley both deciding to transfer, there isn't a single member of Ford's recruiting haul that resides in Stillwater. Six of the seven have left via transfer - and the prize of the class never made it academically. 

Here's the complete rundown: 

Reger Dowell: Started three of the first 11 games and averaged 5.5 points in 19.2 minutes per game. Recently opted to transfer. 

Fred Gulley: The Arkansas native started 14 games as a freshman and suffered a shoulder injury last season. He had started five games this season and was averaging 4.0 points in 18.4 minutes when he decided to leave. 

Ray Penn: Yet another point guard who didn't make it. Penn started 15 games his freshman season, but was kicked off the team last year after starting 10 games and averaging 5.9 points. He reportedly transferred to Texas Southern, but isn't on the roster. 

Roger Franklin: Was a heralded recruit who barely played (averaged 1.7 points last season) and transferred to North Texas. He received a waiver to play immediately due to an illness in the family. He's averaging 7.3 points and 4.5 boards for the Mean Green so far this season. 

Jarred Shaw: The 6-foot-11 Texan played sparingly in 26 games over  two seasons before transferring to Utah State. He's sitting out this year. 

Torin Walker: The 6-foot-11 Georgia native played 10 games as a freshman before transferring to Middle Tennessee. He sat out last season and is averaging 0.6 points and 0.3 rebounds this season. 

Karron Johnson: Talented, but enigmatic. He's bounced around plenty and never qualified. He went to junior college for two years and is now at D-3 Shaw University, where he has yet to play this season. 

Now let's take a refresher course with that UMASS GROUP FROM 2007: 

Travon Wilcher: He transferred to Maine, averaged 1.0 point per game last season in six games and hasn't played a single minute this year. 

Papa Lo: After averaging 0.3 points as a freshman at UMass, he transferred to Bryant and averaged 0.4 points and 0.8 rebounds last season. 

Max Groebe: He transferred to Cornell after logging a total of 104 minutes as a freshman under Ford and is averaging 1.5 points in 5.5 minutes this season for the Big Red.

Matt Glass: He transferred to Vermont after averaging 3.4 points in 13.1 minutes per game at UMass as a sophomore. He's the star of this class, averaging 9.3 points per game this season. 

Marcus Matthews: He never arrived and is now at Division II Southern New Hampshire, where he is averaging 1.8 points per game in six contests this season. 

Trey Lang: He finished his UMass career under Derek Kellogg last season as a walk-on and averaged 1.0 point per game. 

Matt Hill: He averaged 9.5 minutes per game last season and has appeared in just two games this year, scoring a total of six points. 

Tyrell Lynch: Ford compared him to his former Kentucky teammate, Jamal Mashburn. Lynch ended up transferring after a freshman season that saw him average 3.7 points and 3.6 rebounds. His whereabouts now are unknown. 

Gary Correia: He played 27 games last season as a senior and averaged 4.3 points per game as the starting point guard. 

Posted on: December 27, 2011 8:59 am
Edited on: January 6, 2012 3:35 pm

Conference Reset

As well roll into January that can only mean one thing -- we're about to launch full swing into conference play.

For some teams, non-conference play was a wake-up call. Teams that many thought would easily stroll into the NCAA tournament come March will now have to pick up the pace in league play.

Through Jan. 5, the CBSSports.com college basketball crew will be putting the spotlight on every major league, letting you know what you may have missed and what do you need to watch out for going forward.

  • ACC
    The ACC is going to be great soon with the additions of Syracuse and Pittsburgh. But is it great right now? Not really. North Carolina remains a national title contender, Duke is Duke (despite Wednesday's loss at Temple) and Virginia is a surprise. But the league's other nine teams are either unproven or proven to be average or bad, and that's not a good look for a conference that prides itself on playing a high level of basketball. Read More >>
  • Atlantic 10
    For a while, it appeared the Atlantic 10 might finish without a conference champ. Xavier got off to a sizzling start with nine straight victories. Then came The Brawl -- followed by the Fall. Xavier suspended Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Dez Wells after the fight with cross-town rival Cincinnati -- and it all fell apart. Chris Mack's team lost three of its next four, including setbacks to Oral Roberts and Hawaii, which gave hope to everyone else in the league. Now Rick Majerus' Saint Louis team, which has only one loss thus far, may have a shot. Temple has struggled at times, but the Owls could challenge. And Saint Joseph's finally appears back in contention after two brutal campaigns. Read More >>
  • Big 12
    The Big 12 title is up for grabs. Kansas has been king of the league for most of the past decade, but this season the Jayhawks look vulnerable. No one can match the talent and length of Scott Drew's Baylor squad, but the Bears haven't been the most impressive team in the conference thus far -- that honor belongs to Missouri and new coach Frank Haith. But don't count out Kansas State as long as Frank Martin has this group of somewhat anonymous Wildcats buying into his brand of basketball -- which means playing hard. Read More >>
  • Big East
    When compared to last season, the Big East might look down this year. It's not going to be in the mix for 10 or 11 NCAA tournament bids, and the bottom of the league is not very strong. With that said, don't underestimate the conference too much; it has at least three legitimate top 10 teams and six teams who should receive top-four seeds in the NCAA tournament. Read More >>
  • Big Ten
    How many teams can enter league play these days and legitimately say they have eight teams in the equation for an NCAA tournament bid? Probably just one, and that's the Big Ten. After Ohio State, there's plenty of depth in this conference, which has established itself as the premiere league in the country this season. Read More >>
  • Conference USA
    Though Memphis is a disappointment, it's still the best team in Conference USA by a wide margin. But don't take my word for it. Take Ken Pomeroy's. His invaluable site (KenPom.com) still has Memphis ranked 31st and projected to be favored in every game it plays the rest of the way. So that 8-5 record is likely to turn into something like 26-8 on Selection Sunday (barring serious injuries or notable suspensions, the latter of which is always a possibility at Memphis). So Memphis will win C-USA. The real question is whether C-USA can put two teams in the NCAA tournament. Read More >>
  • Horizon League
    It doesn't seem likely that the Horizon will produce a national finalist for the third year in a row, but that doesn't mean the conference has taken a huge fall. Cleveland State and Wisconsin-Milwaukee have played well during non-conference play, and the league has had a few marquee clips against BCS-league teams. And what about Butler, the aforementioned two-time national finalist? The Bulldogs are turning things around as we enter conference play. But the rest of the league won't let Brad Stevens' troops waltz to a yet another Horizon title. Read More >>
  • Missouri Valley
    It's been a few years since the Valley was this good, even though the bottom part of this one (like most leagues) has a few bad teams. The race to win the league should be among four teams. For whatever reason, MVC clubs capture the hope of many in the tournament. Creighton, Northern Iowa, Bradley, Southern Illinois are all schools that have had big March moments. Two of the aforementioned can and should get into the Big Dance this year. Read More >>
  • Mountain West
    It's better than the Pac-12, and the case could be made it's the fourth-best collection of teams in college hoops. There isn't one group that's even flirting with .500. For a non-BCS conference, that's pretty unexpected and really good. And its success so far goes much deeper than Vegas' defeat of UNC back in November and Steve Fisher's insistence on looking like he teaches grad-level lit classes. Read More >>
  • Pac-12
    The Pac-12 has become the rebellious teenager that gets in its own way and is hurtling toward a life with no future. Here we are again having the same discussion we’ve been having the past few years. Nothing seems to be changing. This league is putrid yet again, and where’s the hope? Not an overstatement: Three Pac-12 teams making the NCAA tournament will be a genuine achievement. Read More >>
  • SEC
    Some fans take joy in the fact that John Calipari has never won a national title. If you're one of those, you might be in trouble. Kentucky really might do it this year. The Wildcats are big and strong and long and talented. They have shooters. They have shot-blockers. They've got everything you need to win a national championship, and they are, right now, the favorites out in Las Vegas. Read More >>
  • West Coast
    Outside of the six BCS-affiliated conferences, the No. 7 spot in league rankings is up for grabs. Why not the West Coast Conference? With three legitimate threats to win a game in the NCAA tournament, the WCC has as good of an argument as anyone. Moreover, with some of the non-conference wins the bottom half of the league picked up in November, the quality victories are there as well. Read More >>

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 10:33 am
Edited on: December 20, 2011 11:55 am

St. Joe's won't free former player Todd O'Brien

By Jeff Goodman

Free Todd O'Brien. 

O'Brien is a former Saint Joseph's big man who has transferred to UAB, but isn't allowed to play because the school -- and coach Phil Martelli -- refuses to sign a waiver. 

Here's the letter O'Brien wrote on SI.com on Monday. 

O'Brien spent one season at Bucknell before transferring to St. Joe's, where he averaged 22.7 minutes his first season before getting only 7.2 minutes and averaging 1.0 point per game last season. 

O'Brien's lawyer, Don Jackson, told CBSSports.com the player was informed by Martelli in the spring that he didn't fit into the team's plans. 

O'Brien decided to take advantage of an NCAA rule in which a player who has graduated in four years, but has a year of eligibility remaining, can play immediately at another school -- as long as it's for academic purposes and the player is pursuing a graduate program that isn't offered at his old school. O'Brien is working on a master's degree in public administration. 

Jackson said O'Brien was given permission to talk to other schools, but Martelli and the school have not signed off on the waiver that would allow him to play at UAB.

Martelli did not return calls by CBSSports.com seeking comment, but the school did release comment. 

"Saint Joseph's University followed all applicable NCAA procedures and applied consistent internal practices in declining to support the requested transfer exception," the statement read. "Upon appeal, the NCAA legislative relief wavier team [initial decision] and the Division I Subcommittee for Legislative Relief [final decision] each reviewed the case and did not grant the requested waiver. Institutional policy and federal student records law prohibit Saint Joseph's from releasing additional or confidential information in this matter. As all eligibility determinations rest with the NCAA and not its member institutions, Saint Joseph's University has no further comment and considers the matter closed."

The school's interim president, John Smithson, also expressed his support for both Martelli and Saint Joseph's athletic director Don DiJulia in response to O'Brien's first-person letter on SI.com.  

Sources told CBSSports.com that a previous incident last season involving a stolen laptop might have contributed to Martelli's resentment toward O'Brien, even, according to Jackson, referring to him as the "most disloyal player he's ever coached." 

Pat Swilling Jr. was dismissed from the team in the laptop incident and Jackson said O'Brien sat out four games during an investigation. 

"Todd was investigated for having knowledge of it," Jackson said. "He sat out four games during the investigation, but was 100 percent cleared and reinstated." 

"What does the laptop issue have to do with releasing him or not?" Jackson asked. 

The other issue, sources told CBSSports.com, is that Martelli believed O'Brien knew all along he was going to transfer -- but didn't inform the staff or the school until July 18 and took three summer classes that were paid for by the school. Jackson reiterated that O'Brien was told he wasn't in Martelli's plans, but that something may have changed in terms of current players transferring or him not getting players into the program that were anticipated. 

Whatever the case, Martelli needs to let O'Brien play for Mike Davis and the Blazers. It wasn't as if O'Brien was a star. Once considered a big-time recruit back in the day for Bucknell, he had turned into an insurance policy for the Hawks in case someone got hurt. He averaged just one point per game, didn't play in several games last season, and didn't leave for a fellow Big 5 school or within the same league. He is at UAB, a program that is struggling and isn't on St. Joe's schedule this season. 

If he signs off on it, O'Brien would go from a practice player -- which he's been down at UAB since mid-October -- to someone who could likely play immediately. 

"UAB's compliance said that it could be done almost immediately," Jackson said. 

However, O'Brien sits in limbo for the time being while Martelli takes a public battering for his unwillingness to relent. 

It can all be over, though. Martelli just needs to let O'Brien go free. 

Photo: Getty Images

Posted on: December 10, 2011 4:50 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 4:55 pm

Xavier's Mack regrets not calling timeout

By Jeff Goodman

Chris Mack didn't see it coming. 

"I've been a part of this rivalry and guys talk on both sides every year," Xavier's head coach told CBSSports.com. "This was as clean a game as I've seen. The only technical was for me arguing a goaltending call." 

"I didn't see it escalating to that point," he added. 

By that point, he meant the brawl that ensued with nine seconds left - one that included an array of punches thrown from both sides and one that left Kenny Frease on the ground with blood gushing from his eye, courtesy of a Yancy Gates right hand. 

Mack said he will watch the tape later tonight, but was obviously disappointed - especially since the fracas overshadowed a terrific performance from his team. 

"Both sides are at fault," he said. "It was terrible the way it ended." 

Mack also said he regrets not pulling his starters - Tu Holloway, Mark Lyons and Kenny Frease - late with the game in hand. 

"They were pressing at the end and there wasn't a dead ball," he said. "In hindsight, I should have called a timeout - but I didn't want to be that coach who calls a timeout, rubbing it in their face." 

"But I wish I would have," Mack added. 

Mack said he expects the A-10 to take action within the next day - as far as suspensions were concerned. 

"I couldn't even begin to say who will or should get suspended," Mack said. "I need to watch the tape." 

"But one thing I do know," he added. "Is that it takes away from the game and the rivalry -- and it shouldn't be like that." 

Posted on: December 10, 2011 3:13 pm
Edited on: December 10, 2011 3:54 pm

Xavier rout over Cincinnati marred by brawl

By Jeff Goodman

The Xavier-Cincinnati rivalry is as fierce as any in college basketball. Yes, right there with Duke-North Carolina and Kentucky-Louisville.

With just nine seconds left, a full-fledged brawl ensued.

Musketeers Player of the Year candidate Tu Holloway and Cincinnati's Ge'Lawn Guyn began jawing. Xavier freshman Dez Wells pushed Guyn, Yancy Gates threw the ball at Holloway -- and all hell broke loose. Seconds later, Xavier big man Kenny Frease was sent to the canvas, courtesy of a haymaker from fellow heavyweight Gates. While he was on the floor, Cincinnati's Cheikh Mbodj stomped on Frease.

Frease walked off the court with blood gushing from his left eye and later tweeted: "Scored whenever I wanted and never got scored on... Got punched and I'm still standing like a man." 

This was ugly - and warrants numerous suspensions. My guess is Holloway and Guyn will get a game or two, but it should be Gates and Mbodj who receive the harshest penalties for their actions. Wells will also likely get hit since his push may have triggered the melee. 

"It's unfortunate what happened," Xavier junior guard Mark Lyons said after the game, which was called with nine seconds left. "Obviously, this is a heated rivalry. But we regret what happened and didn't want it to end that way."

One question that both coaches need to answer: Why were most of the starters still in the game, which was a 23-point margin, with just nine seconds left?

Holloway, Lyons and Frease were all in the game for Xavier while Gates and Dion Dixon were still in for Cincinnati.

"I'm friendly with a few of their players," Lyons said. "It was more the new guys, they were talking a lot of trash to Tu. ... It's unfortunate, but we wanted to protect each other. When they are throwing punches, it's hard not to do anything." 

These two programs hate one another. They sit just a few miles away in Cincinnati and there's a history of altercations over the years. Frease, in fact, head-butted Gates a few years back. 

The brawl overshadowed a convincing victory for an Xavier team that is ranked eighth in the country. A year ago, Cincinnati pounded the Musketeers at Fifth Third Arena.

This season both teams were ranked in the Top 20 entering the season, but the Bearcats lost twice entering Saturday's Crosstown Shootout - to Presbyterian and Marshall. Xavier, which put together one of the most difficult non-conference slates in the country, improved to 8-0 and has knocked off Vanderbilt, Purdue, Butler and now Cincinnati.

"I feel like this was a huge win for us," Lyons said.

Maybe, but it was costly. For both sides.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com