sean miller

HBO's 'The Scheme' is entertaining but doesn't answer the big questions

HBO's 'The Scheme' is entertaining but doesn't answer the big questions

It was September of 2917 and a news conference in New York led me and a lot of others to believe that the lid was about to be blown off college basketball and perhaps even the NCAA itself:

“All of those charged today contributed to a pay-to-play culture that has no business in college basketball,” Bill Sweeney, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s New York field office, said at the Sept. 2017 news conference announcing the arrests of (Christian) Dawkins and nine others. “Today’s arrests should serve as a warning to others … We have your playbook.”

Well, that playbook stayed on the FBI’s shelf, it seems. And a documentary called “The Scheme,” which made its debut Tuesday night on HBO, didn’t answer the questions I’ve been looking to answer for all these months:

-- Why did the FBI choose to target college basketball and spend a boatload of taxpayer money on an investigation, apparently just to find out what most of us already knew -- that the sport is full of cheating.

-- And why didn’t any of the high-profile coaches ever get charged with a crime, or even be brought to court to testify? In the end, Dawkins, a former runner for agent Andy Miller, took the hardest fall.

The documentary runs two hours, which felt maybe 30 minutes too long, but was interesting.

Of particular interest was the recording of a phone call, said to be involving Dawkins and Arizona Coach Sean Miller, in which the coach asks Dawkins what it will take to get then-high school star Nassir Little to Arizona. And Miller doesn’t seem at all worried that the University of Miami is also bidding for the current Trail Blazer forward at the same time.

It was obvious from the phone conversation that whatever money was to be paid to deliver Little was going to be paid to his AAU coaches in Orlando. Little ended up going to North Carolina. Little and his father signed sworn affidavits that they were never approached with offers of money from Miami.

Miller has totally denied any involvement and retains his job at Arizona.

That, by the way, is one of the stinkiest things about the way a lot of business is done in college basketball. The AAU coaches, the “advisors” and hustlers get paid for influencing recruits, but often the players don’t see that money or even know about the deal. They just get exploited.

For many years I heard the tale of a high-profile recruit from Portland landing at an out-of-state university and that the college did not recruit him through his high-school coach. It was done with the AAU coach, who pushed the player to that university and then showed up the next several summers as a "guest instructor" at the college's basketball camp -- at an exorbitant amount of money.

The documentary is an entertaining watch, but leaves behind those big questions. Why didn’t coaches get dragged into court to explain their “playbook?” And with all the serious crime going on in the world, why did this waste of taxpayers’ money happen in the first place?

Even Arizona’s Sean Miller thinks Tres Tinkle’s ejection was bogus


Even Arizona’s Sean Miller thinks Tres Tinkle’s ejection was bogus

One was earned; one was questionable.

Oregon State senior Tres Tinkle received two technical fouls at Arizona on Thursday night, which resulted in an immediate ejection from the game.

The first technical foul was a warning on both players.

After a tough basket under the hoop, Tinkle turned to run up court and accidentally made contact with Christian Koloko, who seemed to think that contact was purposeful. Koloko swung back at Tinkle which prompted Tres to get the refs involved, and rightfully so. The call was a double technical on Tinkle and Koloko.

The second was more obvious.

On a drive to the hoop with his left hand, Tinkle raised his right elbow above the shoulders on Arizona’s Jemarl Baker Jr.

Here is the play:

It was called a technical foul, Tinkle’s second of the game, and resulted in an immediate ejection.

Here is what Arizona head coach Sean Miller had to say about the call.

It’s unfortunate that he had to exit the game on that play. I don’t look at that as a cheap shot in any way shape or form. It is what it is. He may have connected above the shoulders. But I know he is a great kid, high-character guy. — Arizona head coach Sean Miller

Miller has great respect for Tinkle and what he has accomplished in his four+ years in Corvallis, Oregon.

Whether or not you agree with Miller, Tinkle was ejected at the 13:15 minute mark of the second half and without him on the court, the Beavers struggled to find their offense. Oregon State fell to Arizona 89-63 in Tucson, Arizona and into ninth place in the Pac-12 conference standings.

Oregon State needs Tinkle on the court. 

The Beavers have now lost two in a row and have a date with the Sun Devils next up in Tempe, where they just beat the No. 14 Oregon Ducks 77-72, before returning home for one last home series hosting the Washington schools.

At this points, it’s all about fighting for seeding in the Pac-12 Tournament (March 11-14) and the Beavers need every win they can get, and it starts with Tinkle.

Oregon upsets Arizona: Quick takeaways

Oregon upsets Arizona: Quick takeaways

Oregon just upset Arizona (13-5, 4-1 Pac-12) at the McKale Center in Tucson, Ariz., 59-54. A few takeaways from the big win:

The Ducks handed the wildcats their first Pac-12 loss with huge help from their defense and rebounding. Oregon held Arizona to 37 percent shooting from the field.  Oregon had nine offensive rebounds that led to 11 second-chance points. 

The return of Kenny Wooten: After not disclosing whether Wooten would play against Arizona or not, Wooten suited up and played 25 minutes with a full-face mask. His impact was immediate with an inside presence that Arizona didn't have an answer for. He finished with five points, seven rebounds and one block (although it looked more like two or three). 

Payton Pritchard's Duck legacy continues: He scored his 1,000th career point. The only Oregon native scholarship player on the roster, Pritchard is 37th in UO history to reach that milestone. 

Paul White continues to step up: The senior led UO with 16 points and five rebounds. The win marks his fifth consecutive game with double-figure points. 

Oregon closed out a tight victory: Single digits have decided six of the last seven meetings between Oregon and Arizona. To close out the game, the Ducks grabbed three offensive rebounds and Louis King made three of four free throws with 90 seconds to go. 

The Ducks improve to 2-2 in Pac-12 conference play, 11-6 overall. Next up, Arizona State. 

Kenny Wooten Watch: Oregon basketball upset brewing at Arizona?

Kenny Wooten Watch: Oregon basketball upset brewing at Arizona?

Oregon begins its first Pac-12 conference road trip vs. the Arizona Wildcats, who currently ranks first in the Pac-12. Single digits have decided five of the last six meetings between Oregon and Arizona. Can the Ducks build on their win over USC and upset Arizona? Let's get you in the know:

Records: Oregon (10-6, 1-2 Pac-12), Arizona (13-4, 4-0)

Wooten Watch: After missing Oregon’s last four games with a broken jaw, Kenny Wooten was wearing a mask as he went through drills during Tuesday’s practice. Important to note: he did not participate in contact drills. Coach Dana Altman said Wooten is unlikely to return to face Arizona. However, it could be a game time decision or Altman may want to keep the Wildcats guessing. 

Wounded Ducks: Oregon is down to only eight scholarship players this weekend with the loss of Bol Bol (season ending injury), Abu Kigab (transfer) and Wooten (broken jaw). The trio of Bol, Kigab and Wooten combined an average 30.2 points, 17.2 rebounds and 4.3 blocks per game.

Record Watch: Junior guard Payton Pritchard comes into the Arizona game needing two points to reach 1,000 in his career.

Fun Fact: During Oregon vs. Arizona matchups, the winning team has scored at least 80 points in nine consecutive games.

King, heating up: Freshman Louis King has reached double-figure points in three straight games. King is averaging 19.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in Pac-12 play.

Wildcats to watch: Sophomore Brandon Randolph, Arizona's leading scorer, has scored in double figures in every game (17 games) this season. Senior guard Justin Coleman has 995 career points and is five away from 1,000. Freshman Brandon Williams is 5 of his last 7 from 3-point range after a 2-of-14 stretch.

Cats are rollin’: Arizona is 4-0 in Pac-12 play for the third time under coach Sean Miller and have won seven straight games. Arizona is 91-4 at home since the start of the 2013-14 season, which is the best mark in the country.

How and where to watch

Time: Thursday, Jan. 17, 6 p.m

Where: McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.


More Ducks:

Ducks flocked for LaMichael James' Killer Burger grand opening

Does LaMichael James think the CFB Playoff should be expanded?

Who could be Oregon's next linebacker coach? Rising star, veteran, elite recruiter options

Doug Brenner and his Rhabdomyolysis: Why he's suing Willie Taggart and the University of Oregon

Payton Pritchard on the cusp of a milestone along wild, topsy, turvy roller coaster ride at Oregon