Huskies Insider Blog

Noon hoops: Free Todd O'Brien!!, Cal works over UCSB

If you don't who Todd O'Brien is, then you really should read his story from SI.com.

In a nutshell,  O'Brien graduated from St. Joes last year, and decided to transfer to UAB to play his final season per the new NCAA rule that allows seniors, who have graduated to transfer and be eligible immediatley. However, St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli is so bitter about the situation, he refuses to sign a scholarship release to allow O'Brien to play. It's a petty, spiteful way of holding a grudge.

The rules are in place to allow O'Brien to make this decision. Martelli obviously feels betrayed, and he has a reason to. But this kid wants to leave, let him play. UAB isn't in their conference or on their schedule.

Andy Staples of SI skewers the NCAA and their handling of scholarships and players.

Naturally, O'Brien's tale isn't that simple. While he has graduated from Saint Joseph's, the fact that he already transferred from Bucknell to St. Joseph's muddles the issue of his eligibility for the NCAA's one-time graduate transfer exception. That doesn't mean O'Brien is out of luck. It means he needs something called a legislative relief waiver.

Which is funny, because Todd Graham didn't need any kind of release or waiver -- only a gutless text message so he didn't have to face his former players.

Graham, for those who missed it last week, is the football coach who bolted Pittsburgh for Arizona State after 11 months on the job. The NCAA can't force Graham to sit out a year before coaching the Sun Devils, because Graham would immediately file a fat lawsuit that the NCAA would undoubtedly settle to keep from getting crushed by a jury.

Graham has rights when dealing with the NCAA and its member institutions. O'Brien does not. The system is ludicrously stacked against O'Brien, a 22-year-old who -- without the aid of a legal advisor, because the NCAA forbids that sort of thing -- signed his first contract with an NCAA member institution at 18. Whose fault is that?

You probably thought I was going to say the NCAA. I could, but that wouldn't be entirely accurate. It's too easy to paint the NCAA as a bureaucratic bogeyman run by five or six Illuminati who sit in Indianapolis and dream up new ways to oppress athletes. That simply isn't the case. The people who work at the NCAA national office don't make the rules, and most are good, hard-working people who truly do care about the athletes. The NCAA is a representative democracy. The schools make the rules.

And a lot of schools want to make sure the rules stay tilted in their favor. They don't want the 18- to 22-year-olds gaining any bargaining power. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports hammers St. Joes as well.

Enough about the frustrating hypocrisy of the NCAA, let's get to last night's games in the Pac-12

The Cal Bears picked up solid 70-50 win over UC Santa Barbara. The Bears rolled over a Gauchos squad that played UW tough, and did so without Jorge Gutierrez and Richard Solomon.

From Jeff Faurado's game story ...

Senior guard Jorge Gutierrez (food poisoning) and sophomore forward Richard Solomon (stress fracture) both missed the game, but Cal (10-2) hardly skipped a beat.

"It shows we have other weapons on the team," said sophomore Allen Crabbe, who scored 19 points. "Once we realized Jorge wasn't going to be here everyone got it in their heads we were all going to have to step up. And that's what we did."

Sophomore guard Justin Cobbs scored a career-high 25 points and the Bears led by as many as 24 points against the Gauchos (5-4). Cal closes it non-conference schedule Friday at No. 21 Nevada-Las Vegas -- a team that went to double overtime before beating Santa Barbara on Nov. 30.

Gutierrez, starting forward Harper Kamp and backup center Robert Thurman all were sick Sunday night. Kamp played anyway, contributing eight points and five rebounds in 33 minutes.

"This is just evidence of what a team can do if they're all on the same page," coach Mike Montgomery said. "Nobody was trying to force anything, nobody was trying to be a hero and we played really good defense."

Stanford improved to 10-1 with an easy 75-56 win over Bethune-Cookman

Utah picked up its second straight win, defeating Portland, 72-67. From my buddy Bill Oram's story ...

The idea of the Utes winning a basketball game, even a week ago, was a reach. An actual, bona fide, more-than-one winning streak?

Unthinkable with a big, red block "U."

But in a matter of 72 hours, it happened for the Utah men’s basketball team. Seventy-two hours bookending a dreary weekend, just enough time for office workers to show up on a Monday and marvel that the Utes won once before the same group, considered among the worst power conference teams ever, went out and did it again.

The Utes frittered away a 16-point lead but held on to beat the University of Portland 72-67 Monday to improve their record to 3-8 and their optimism to through the roof.USC actually scored points in an 83-59 over what has to be an awful TCU team.

Colorado picked up an ugly 70-64 win over Cal State Bakersfield.

Arizona State lost on a buzzer beater against Southern Mississippi.

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