It’s Friday! That means Ten Big stories in 10 little bites. We have a full plate. Travis Hill and Mike Grant, Phil Mickelson and Phil Simms, B1G realignment and Husker recruiting. But first, how high can Doug McDermott go?
I’m not talking about his vertical jump, I’m talking about the all-time NCAA scoring list. McDermott passed 1,900 career points Wednesday against Missouri State. It was his 96th career game. Assuming McDermott sticks around for his senior year — more on that in a moment — I project he’ll play about 50 more games, 15 this year and 35 next year.
Here’s the current top 5:
Pete Maravich, LSU — 3,667
Freeman Williams, Portland State — 3,249
Lionel Simmons, La Salle — 3,217
Alphonso Ford, Mississippi Valley State — 3,165
Harry Kelly, Texas Southern — 3,066
(For the record, all those guys have significantly higher career averages than McDermott. Basketball teams play more games these days — only Simmons played more than 130 career games. Maravich, for example, scored his 3,667 in just 83 games, 44.2 per game.)
To surpass Hersey Hawkins, Oscar Robertson, Danny Manning, Elvin Hayes, Tyler Hansbrough and Larry Bird — all are between 7th and 13th — McDermott must stay healthy. And he must stay for his senior year.
Three months ago, I would’ve said, of course he’ll be around for 2014. But the more I see his game in comparison to his college peers, the more my gut tells me otherwise. My guess is he’s a late first-round pick. That’s certainly high enough to jump. And with Grant Gibbs and Gregory Echenique graduating, I don’t see the Jays being better next year.
What would be left for Doug to prove or gain? Top 5 in career points? Three-time All-American? I’m not sure that’s enough. You don’t reach his level without intense ambition to go even higher.
In Doug’s world, that’s the NBA.
>> I understand the benefits of a strong conference commissioner. Look no further than Dan Beebe to see the drawbacks of a weak one. But looking back, I can’t believe how Big Ten athletic directors acquiesced to Jim Delany on the issue of divisional alignment. Why do I say that? Because suddenly ADs all over the league are speaking up about how they want change.
Ohio State AD Gene Smith wants to be in the same division as Michigan. Gary Barta and Barry Alvarez want a geographic split. You think these opinions are new? I doubt it. But it’s the Big Ten way to trust the conference office, which wanted the possibility of Ohio State-Michigan in a conference title game. Somebody should’ve stood up two years ago and said, “Wait a second, why isn’t Wisconsin playing Iowa? Do we really want Buckeyes-Wolverines in back-to-back weeks? Is Legends and Leaders really a good idea?”
Obviously, circumstances have changed. Penn State’s probation. Expansion to the East Coast. But the Big Ten could’ve saved itself some trouble had ADs spoken up in the first place.
>> It’s been a while since I posted something from the World-Herald archives. How ‘bout a recruiting look back to 25 years ago when Tom Osborne snagged seven commitments the Sunday before Signing Day. Seven in one day? Unprecedented, Osborne said at the time. It included four in a one-hour span.
“That turned it from a pretty average year to a very good recruiting year,” Osborne said.
The Sunday Seven: Tyrone Hughes, Travis Hill, Tyrone Legette, David White, Mike Grant, Jeremiah Clark and Scott Peterson.
Four NFL guys who played a combined 19 seasons in the pros. Not a bad haul. Bo Pelini doesn’t have room for seven recruits Sunday afternoon. But a few future draft picks would be a nice boost.
>> New recruit Drake Martinez intends to play safety at Nebraska. That news prompted a call from a friend: “Could Taylor have played safety?” he said. Physically, I think so. But I question whether his lateral movement would’ve been good enough.
I think Taylor’s second-best position would’ve been receiver, not defensive back.
>> After news of Braylon Heard’s transfer, this story is not exactly what Nebraska football fans want to read: Nick Saban persuading running backs to accept fewer carries in order to prolong their careers.
Alabama coaches have stressed using multiple backs throughout the recruiting process. “It’s unique how they recruit,” (North Little Rock High coach Brad) Bolding said. “They tell you just flat-out that, ‘Hey, we’re going to run two or three backs in the game. The shelf life in the NFL is a lot longer.’”
>> After Creighton’s win over Missouri State, I asked Greg McDermott about the elbow rule that has bitten CU twice in Valley play. Grant Gibbs was whistled for a flagrant 1 at Wichita State, a key play in the second half. And Gregory Echenique got called for the same thing Wednesday.
“The rule is a rule, the coaches voted on it and if we want it to change, the coaches better vote it out,” McDermott said. “The referees are just following the letter of the law, and that’s what they’re supposed to do.”
Here’s a story from two years ago on the rule, which has clearly done more harm than good this year for local teams — Brandon Ubel’s flagrant one at the end of the Penn State game nearly cost Nebraska a win.
That was bad enough. But I worry the rule will cost someone an NCAA tournament game.
>> Game of the year in Big Ten hoops Saturday night: Michigan at Indiana. I like the Wolverines to win the league. But Assembly Hall will be rocking. Gimme the Hoosiers by a bucket. The two meet again the last game of the regular season in Ann Arbor. It’s too bad neither Michigan nor Indiana will visit the Devaney Center. I’d love to seem them in person.
>> How ‘bout a little Super Bowl talk. The 49ers’ running game is their ticket to victory. Look schematically at how they do it. “Right now, it’s new to the league, and I don’t think teams are ready to defend it — or, at least, some teams weren’t,” Tom Rathman told reporter Doug Farrar Tuesday. “We’ll see how Baltimore defends it.”
>> Only the Paranoid Survive. Here’s the book Jim Harbaugh promotes behind closed doors.
>> Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs? It could’ve happened.
>> How crazy is this week for the Harbaugh family? Jim Harbaugh’s 23-year-old son, Jay, won’t even be rooting for him. Why? He works for the Ravens.
>> The greatest moment in New Orleans sports history didn’t have involve Michael Jordan or Keith Smart or Drew Brees or Tracy Porter. It was Steve Gleason’s blocked punt, says Les Carpenter. Great column.
>> People like the 49ers’ Chris Culliver make it difficult for a gay athlete to go public, says Dan Wetzel.
>> Phil Simms is preparing for his seventh Super Bowl as CBS’ lead analyst. That’s second only to John Madden. Pretty incredible considering Simms’ modest skills. Is he an iconic personality? No. Is he a great analyst? No. Was he a legendary player? Not really.
It illustrates a problem with CBS and Fox, who gives its largest platform to another boring voice, Troy Aikman. Why do you need a Super Bowl winning QB as your No. 1 analyst? Why not open the playing field to more insightful commentators such as Cris Collinsworth, Mike Mayock and Ron Jaworski.
Jay Bilas wasn’t a star. Clark Kellogg wasn’t an All-American. Bill Raftery and Dick Vitale weren’t national championship coaches. They’re good enough to analyze the biggest college basketball games. Same in college football; Kirk Herbstreit was a forgettable college quarterback. NBA? Jeff Van Gundy. Mark Jackson. Steve Kerr. Not exactly Hall of Famers.
Give me the best broadcasters, not the biggest names.
>> Not a bad winter for UNO athletics, huh. Hockey is No. 14 in the country and one point off the WCHA lead. And men’s basketball just extended its Summit League winning streak to three, beating Fort Wayne last night.
The Mavs hit a rather absurd 18 of 23 shots (78 percent) in the second half — even Creighton would be impressed with that. In its first full year of Summit play, I don’t think anyone expected UNO to be flirting with .500 in league play. That’s on the table Saturday against Oakland.
>> Tonight’s wrestling dual against Michigan State will be the last Nebraska athletic event at the Coliseum.
>> Is the era of the NBA SuperTeam coming to an end? Adrian Wojnarowski says yes.
>> Phil Mickelson was an inch from shooting 59 Thursday. Wow. Why do I get the feeling that putt drops if it’s Tiger Woods? At some point in life, Phil angered the golf gods.
>> Finally, my Super Bowl pick: San Francisco 27, Baltimore 14. Thanks for reading. Have a great weekend.