Stew Milne/USA Today Sports

Thinking out loud: Welcome to the new college basketball

John Rooke
August 24, 2018 - 4:54 pm

Thinking out loud…while wondering what the one-time Sports Pope of New York, Mike Francesa, has been up to?

  • The RPI is dead.  Now, it’s nothing but NET – at least as a primary measuring stick for NCAA basketball tournament worthiness.


  • The NCAA announced this week they are adopting a formula known as the NCAA Evaluation Tool, or NET, beginning next season.  The NET will involve an equation of game results, strength of schedule, game location, net offensive and defensive efficiencies, quality of wins and losses – AND – margin of victory in compiling the rating.


  • Ex-Friar coach and former Bryant athletic director Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s VP for Basketball, told Stadium’s Jeff Goodman the first NET rankings will be released sometime in late November or early December, once enough games have been played.  Eventually, those rankings – just as RPI updates were previously released – will be updated daily.


  • What’s different here than from the old system?  The NET potentially looks to be a bit more thorough by including margin of victory in the formula, a predictive measure that many coaches wanted to include in the development of any new system. 


  • So, what will keep teams from running up the score on inferior opponents?  Margin of victory in the NET will be capped at 10 points – so routs, romps, mismatches and unsportsmanlike runaways won’t be measured, or perhaps coached, any differently. 


  • We’ll see how that one works.  Nevertheless, a consistent measuring stick for high-major and mid-major teams to address should be a good thing.  Until someone starts complaining again, and we change it all over again.


  • Did you know the RPI had been used in men’s college basketball since 1981?  That’s a pretty good 37-year run.  The women will continue to use the RPI (Ratings Percentage Index) for next season.


  • The Friars may have lost one in Italy, in Rome to the Rosetto Sharks 70-66, but perhaps they gained something in the process.  Joe Hassett has been on the trip, and reports it was a good lesson for a young team to go against someone more physical than they faced in the first two games.


  • Another lesson learned – you can’t take time off from rebounding. This was an issue at times for young big men Kalief Young and Nate Watson last season.  It can’t be that way this year, for this team to go where it hopes to go.


  • And wherever it goes, Alpha Diallo will lead them.  He’s the alpha male, so to speak, of this Friar edition. 


  • Hassett also reports from the end of the 10-day tour that defense was lacking in the first game in Rome, something else that can’t happen once the regular season gets started.  Defense keeps teams in games, even when the shots don’t fall.


  • The second and final game in Rome, and the final game of the four-game tour, was a different story.  Pressing for 40 minutes, the Friars won 85-46 over Luiss Roma, with senior Isaiah Jackson and freshman Jimmy Nichols each scoring 12 points.


  • Did you see where a David Duke Italian dunk made it onto ESPN’s SportsCenter as a #2 play of the day?  Was it a really slow day in the sports world for a dunk in a summer exhibition game to rate that highly?  Actually, it was an impressive play.  But…


  • It was also a traveling violation.  That’s a call the NBA lets slide all the time.  I don’t know about you, but three steps without a dribble constitutes traveling, doesn’t it?  But keep flyin’ young fella.


  • Not for nuthin’, but Billy Donovan’s name is on one of the practice courts inside the new Ruane Friar Development Center on campus.  Deserved, of course.  But who thought this might happen 30 years ago?


  • Congrats to new ex-Friar Jalen Lindsey, who will continue his career by playing pro ball in Slovenia.  I get the sense there may be a few new followers of the pro leagues in the eastern European countries of Hungary (Kyron Cartwright, Rodney Bullock) and Slovenia these days.


  • Friar alum and current Brown athletic director Jack Hayes has been named chair of the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse committee for 2018-19.  The championships next spring move to Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.


  • ICYMI, college lacrosse will implement a 60-second shot clock next season, with teams having 20 seconds to clear the ball past midfield, and the clock starting thereafter.


  • Tweet of the Week I, from ex-PC assistant, former RIC and ex-Maine coach @CoachBobWalsh – in response to the announcement of new athletic director Ken Ralph taking over at Maine: “Congratulations! Wanna buy a house?”


  • Rule changes should be noticeable in college football as well, with the season upon us.  What you’ll notice – players can call a fair catch on a kickoff, and if inside the 20-yard line the ball will be placed at the 25.  This is to encourage teams to take the automatic yardage, rather than running the ball out from near the goal line.


  • I don’t know about you – but why have the kickoff if teams can do this?  Seems a waste of time, really. 


  • What you may not notice – all blocking below the waist, more than five yards downfield from the line of scrimmage, will be illegal.  And all college players must have pants that include knee pads.


  • Nine athletes at North Carolina were suspended four games for selling shoes given to them by the athletic department.  Urban Meyer was suspended three games at Ohio State for covering up domestic abuse by one of his coaches. 


  • Now you know what, and who, rules the roost in college athletics.  It starts with M, ends in Y and has just ONE in the middle.


  • Ex-Hendricken Hawk and BC Eagle Will Blackmon signed with Saskatchewan in the Canadian Football League last month – but only stayed on the squad for six days.  A pro career that spanned 13 seasons, six teams and two leagues might finally be at an end.


  • Kenny Britt was one of the big storylines in Foxboro during OTA’s.  A big, physical receiver with speed and good hands.  But he couldn’t stay on the field with a constant hammy problem this summer, so…in spite of Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell being released…buh-bye Kenny.


  • Gotta stay on the field to stay on the team.  Let this serve as a reminder to those who don’t know or understand the difference between “playing hurt,” and “playing while injured.”


  • ‘Yes’ to Dez, or ‘no’ to Dez?  Put me in the ‘no’ column, thanks.  But if he’s still out there and if someone else pulls a Kenny Britt, all things are possible.


  • Ok, hear me out on this one.  But do you think the J-E-T-S might be talked out of QB Teddy Bridgewater by, say, the Patriots? 


  • I know, it’s doubtful the J-E-T-S would be that dumb after trading away Bill Belichick for a draft pick nearly 20 years ago.  But they don’t need Bridgewater with Sam Darnold and Josh McCown around – and most scouting reports say he’s got back at least some of his game after his knee implosion two years ago.


  • Would he be willing to work as an understudy for a couple of years?  Ok, ok.  Forget I mentioned it.  But it’s intriguing to consider, in an imbecilic way.  I’m good for a few of these thoughts every so often.


  • We’re going to have to live with this helmet rule for this season, speaking of imbecilic.  There is simply no way the NFL will shoot down or change a new rule before the first official helmet spearing of the new season.  


  • ICYMI, former UMass receiver Victor Cruz announced his retirement from the NFL this week, and said he’d be joining ESPN for their NFL coverage this year.  Cruz made the Pro Bowl in 2012, after joining the NY Giants as an undrafted free agent in 2010.


  • My buddy “Big E” sez he was limping down the street last week, dragging his right leg along behind him, when he noticed a man coming toward him with the same, strange limp.  As they approached each other, the guy pointed to his leg and said “Vietnam, 1969. You?”  “Big E” apparently thought honesty was the best policy, so he replied “dog doo, 20 feet back, two minutes ago. Watch your step.”


  • The spin stories got rolling a little late this week from Rhode Island’s politicians on the fallout from the Pawsox impending move to Worcester.  As expected, both Governor Gina Raimondo and Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien said the state and city could never have matched the deal Massachusetts and Worcester offered the team.


  • Be that as it may, having the team – a “treasured part of the fabric of the community” said the mayor – would have been better than not having the team from a business and economic revitalization perspective.  To that end, Mayor Grebien also said the city would continue to pursue the Apex site, where a new stadium would have been built, for future development.


  • Tweet of the Week II, from @Scott_Meehan: “There is no truth to the rumor the general assembly would lose the state beaches if they were not attached.”


  • Show of hands – who also thought a Red Sox swoon was just starting earlier this week, after losing two straight games (and three overall) to the Indians?  It’s just ingrained in our fiber, in our very being, around here…that the other shoe will always drop.


  • It ain’t over just yet.  But can the Yankees catch up with what they’re currently fielding?  Gregorius and Chapman to the DL, just as Sabathia comes off of it.  Playing .500 ball over the last 40-ish games won’t cut it compared to the lights-out Sox.  The fat lady is warming her vocal chords.


  • Pomeranz. Kelly. Now Eovaldi. Do any of these guys deserve a spot on a playoff roster staff?  Who can you rely upon?


  • David Price has the best ERA in the majors since the all-star break.  Let that one roll off your tongue before gagging on it, huh?


  • Did you hear Price admonishing long-time Sox reporter Jonny Miller from WBZ in the clubhouse last week?  He was asked by Miller what kind of adjustments he’s made in his turnaround this season and told him “I’m not gonna tell you. You can go back and watch film. I’m not gonna do your job for you, I’m sorry.  You don’t do mine, so I won’t do yours.”


  • It was a smart*ss comment to make, but he had a point.  So, Miller went and did his.  He went back to Price and told him what he thought he was doing differently – his placement on the rubber, his pitch usage and location.  Price agreed, and said he was right.


  • If we had more reporters actually go and do their homework like Jonny Miller does his, perhaps we wouldn’t have as many disgruntled athletes complaining about the media coverage around here as we sometimes seem to have.


  • This week’s Lil’ ray o’ sunshine – Moneywise has listed Rhode Island as the 8th worst state to retire in.  No reason for snowbirds not to continue their southerly migration, is there?


  • But we can sure play Little League baseball around here, can’t we?  Can we monetize that? 


  • Since Mike Francesa’s return to radio in New York at the end of April, there have been rumors rumbling about that the Sports Pope would eventually make his presence felt in the digital world. This, after years of ratings’ dominance in the NY audio world, especially with his former on-air partner Chris ‘Mad Dog’ Russo at WFAN. 


  • This week, that needle moved.  Francesa is launching his new app (in partnership with WEEI ownership group Entercom and CAA Sports), called “Mike’s On.” Essentially, it’s a live video feed of his radio show, plus his Sunday football show and more Mike-babble…for the astonishing price of $8.99 per month. 


  • In other news, the apocalypse hits next week.  And there will be an app for that, too.


  • Friar alum Pat Duggan sent a note he has a couple of friends (also alums) who are friendly with singer/songwriter Darius Rucker of Hootie and the Blowfish fame.  It seems Theresa McGowan and Suzanne Sweeney had a bet with Rucker (a South Carolina grad) over which team would go further in last year’s NCAA tournament, Providence or USC?


  • While the Friars reached the NCAA’s for a 5th straight year, the Gamecocks failed to make the tournament, finishing 17-16.  This past week at 16th Annual Homegrown concert in Charleston, SC (where Rucker lives), ol’ Hootie was up on stage singing – wearing a Providence Friars shirt to pay off on his bet.


  • No truth to the rumor he sang “you can call me your fool, I only wanna be with you” while he was decked out in his PC attire.  Just sayin’.


  • Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, ...


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