There is no doubt that two of the hardest games on this years schedule for Gonzaga are Memphis and Connecticut. There is also no doubt that these two programs live on the edge as far as academics and player control are concerned. Every year it seems that a Memphis or UConn player is suspended, arrested or rumored to be in some sort of trouble. We have seen recruiting questions arise with Memphis in the most recent past with their pursuit of Abdul Gaddy who recently recommitted to Arizona. Robert Dozier has single-handily brought a black cloud over the entire program with his actions throughout his career as a Tiger.
Now, Memphis is holding their breath about the status of two prized incoming freshmen. Matt Simpkins and Angel Garcia, both in Rivals' top 100 in the 2008 recruiting class, have submitted their paperwork to the NCAA Clearinghouse in hopes to be admitted academically for this season. Coach John Calipari expects that these two will be cleared in the near future but this sort of publicity is not what Memphis needs right now. Memphis is a team with so many question marks. They recently signed a 22-year-old freshman, C.J. Henry, who has not played organized basketball in three years. Tyreke Evans is a player who many people think is the most talented player in the 2008 class but he has been described as extremely selfish and arrogant. Dozier, as I said before, is a walking question mark. When you play Memphis, you have that feeling that something is just not right. They don't have the same look as any other team in the NCAA. Calipari is an excellent coach and one of the most respected in the NCAA but his continued pursuit of talent with no character will certainly catch up with him.
Whereas Memphis is full of academic questions, Connecticut players seem to have an attraction to getting mugshots taken. That trend has continued into this season with incoming freshman Nate Miles. Miles (left), a 6'7'' shooting guard was arrested for his violation of a restraining order. The infraction occurred on September 22nd when Miles was found to be calling the harbored party. He posted a bail of $2,500 and will be appearing in court tomorrow. Their are plenty of character questions with Miles along with the arrest. Miles has attended five high schools in four years and seems to be kicking off his career with UConn in true "Husky fashion".
Connecticut has a long legacy of players being arrested in the Jim Calhoun era. UConn(vict) has been graced by players such as Marcus Williams, A.J. Price, and Thaddeus Ferguson, a friend of Marcus Williams (thanks for the comment), who were all involved with the infamous laptop stealing case in Storrs, Connecticut. Ferguson was charged with four counts of larceny for the events in June of 2005. A.J. Price, who will be concluding his career with UConn this year was granted accelerated rehabilitation for his involvement as was now New Jersey Net guard Marcus Williams. Williams also served 400 hours of community service.
This is merely the tip of the iceberg for these two squads. Just Google "Connecticut/Memphis basketball" with the words "academics, arrested, trouble, or ineligible" and there should be plenty of hits. It seems to be a ticking time bomb with these two programs and it is hard to believe that these two head coaches have not been severely disciplined. The NCAA needs some "Roger Goddell" leadership with these programs so that standards are not bent even more for these powerhouses.
It's all good news for Gonzaga though as both these teams should make more mistakes as the year goes on. These kind of stories always reiterate my love for this program. There is rarely any question about the quality of kids Mark Few brings in. Sure we've had our Josh Heytvelt and Theo Davis problems but that was an isolated incident and it was dealt with quickly and severely by the University. Now all we need to do is show it on the court that we are better than the programs in question. UConn will be solid; the loss of Miles should have little affect on the Huskies but Memphis should waver this year. There is a 50/50 chance that they self-destruct mid season but the other side of the coin is that they could make a deep run because their talent level is as high as ever.