Some basketball news and notes as you count down the days to "Selection Sunday" in 2013 (it's 330, by the way):
• Larry Brown's hiring at SMU has led to a lot of head-scratching. Why hire a 71-year-old who hasn't coached college basketball since 1988 and has a reputation of quickly tiring of one job and wanting another? SMU has one more year remaining in Conference USA before moving to the Big East in the 2013-14 academic year. SMU has been a middling program in a mid-major league and is taking a giant step up in competition. Is Brown going to be able to recruit the talent needed to win in the Big East? Heck, do today's high schoolers even know who he is? One thing Brown can do: He can flash his title rings won at Kansas (1988) and with the Detroit Pistons (2004); he is the only coach in history to win both NCAA and NBA titles. His return to SMU removes one cool line from his résumé: Brown had joined Al McGuire (1977) and John Wooden (1975) as the only coaches whose last college game was a win in the NCAA title game.
[ Pat Forde: Larry Brown isn't the answer for SMU ]
• Tennessee F Jarnell Stokes is the only collegian among the 24 players who are trying out for the 2012 USA Basketball Men's U18 National Team. Eligible players must have been born on or after Jan. 1, 1994. Stokes, who will be a sophomore next season, graduated high school early and enrolled at Tennessee in December. The team is coached by Florida's Billy Donovan, and his assistants are Gonzaga's Mark Few and VCU's Shaka Smart, a former Gators assistant. The 12-man team will play in the eight-team 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship on June 16-20 in Brazil; the top four teams from that tourney qualify for next summer's 2013 FIBA U19 World Championship. Among the other candidates for the team are seven five-star prospects from the 2012 recruiting class: Marcus Smart (the No. 10 recruit, headed to Oklahoma State), Rodney Purvis (No. 12, headed to North Carolina State), Sam Dekker (No. 13, headed to Wisconsin), Kris Dunn (No. 16, headed to Providence), Rasheed Sulaimon (No. 18, headed to Duke), Devonta Pollard (No. 22, undecided) and Gary Harris (No. 25, headed to Michigan State). In addition, three of the top five players from the 2013 class received invitations: twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison and Julius Randle.
• One of many overlooked stories in college basketball last season was the relative success enjoyed by Toledo. The Rockets were 18-16 overall, their first winning season since 2006-07. Toledo had won a combined 15 games in the previous three seasons, and the Rockets' win at UT Pan American on Nov. 20 was their first road win since March 9, 2008. Second-year coach Tod Kowalczyk did it this past season with nine scholarship players because the NCAA limited the Rockets to 10 scholarships because of poor APR numbers in the past (one of the scholarships went to Justin Moss, who had to give up basketball because of a heart condition). Now comes word that the Rockets' poor APR will keep them out of the postseason in 2012-13. "I fully support the NCAA and its efforts to improve academic integrity, but I don't believe coaches and student-athletes who are doing the right thing should be penalized like this," Kowalczyk said.
• That's the same general complaint to the NCAA lodged by Connecticut, which also is banned from the postseason in 2012-13 because of poor APR numbers in the past. The school has argued the penalty was applied retroactively and hurts current students, who had nothing to do with the low scores. UConn's position was supported by six members of Connecticut's Congressional delegation, who wrote a letter to the NCAA on Wednesday expressing similar concerns with how the rule was implemented. Part of the letter read "the NCAA appears to have imposed an overly harsh and unfair penalty by imposing APR sanctions retroactively for conduct and circumstances that had already occurred." The NCAA, to its credit, is standing its ground. NCAA spokesman Bob Williams told The Associated Press that schools have known about APR standards and potential penalties since 2006.
• Louisville coach Rick Pitino often said this past season that he loved coaching his team. Pitino also owns some racing thoroughbreds, and his affection for the team showed in the names he chose for two of his 2-year-old colts: Gorgui and Siva. They are named for C Gorgui Dieng and G Peyton Siva.
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