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Basketball Thoughts: Baylor No. 1 Next Season? Oklahoma State’s Unfair Penalties and Unwritten Rules

Some takes

NCAA Basketball: Maryland - E. Shore at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

I’m trying to write once a week on random sports things. This week is all basketball.

Baylor Could be No. 1

If Jared Butler and MaCio Teague return, Baylor will be at least No. 2 in the polls. Gonzaga, a program facing their own early NBA draft decisions, is the only other possible No. 1 team.

Butler and Teague have difficult decisions. Butler is very likely to get drafted. He can make a lot of money playing in the NBA, and he might decide to start his professional career. Teague has his degree and is four years removed from high school, so the odds he improves enough to get drafted after next season aren’t super high.

But there are good cases for the duo returning. Butler could move into the first round, especially given next year’s class—although likely to be better at the top—will not have as many quality point guards. Teague will also get another year to shine and would have a better chance to scrimmage for teams with a full NBA Draft process in 2021.

Oklahoma State’s Ridiculous Penalties:

The Cowboys were hit with a one year NCAA Tournament ban and the loss of three scholarships for a single level one violation. The level one violation is that an assistant in 2017 paid $300 for a player to meet with an agent. That agent gave the assistant coach money.

When Oklahoma State found out about this, they immediately fired that assistant. That assistant never coached a game under current head coach Mike Boynton. Nobody on next year’s Cowboy’s team played under that assistant or received any benefit from that $300 payment.

The NCAA feels like they have to punish institutions because otherwise the institution has too much of an incentive to cheat. But there’s no claim that anyone at Oklahoma State in 2017 told the assistant coach to make money directing players to one agent. And it’s also weird to consider Oklahoma State as a continuation of a staff that no longer works there.

Brad Underwood was the head coach when the penalty occurred. He’s now the head coach at Illinois and not facing any penalty. He shouldn’t because the scheme only benefited one assistant coach and didn’t give Underwood’s Cowboy’s a competitive advantage. But he had way more control over his assistant than Oklahoma State ever did.

I’ll discuss what this might mean for the NCAA’s other cases against Kansas, Arizona, LSU and North Carolina State later.

Oklahoma State does not deserve this penalty. They landed the nation’s top recruit. He wanted a chance to play in the NCAA Tournament for a team where his brother is an assistant coach. He’s denied that chance because of an unrelated incident disconnected from him. It’s ridiculous.

Unwritten Rules/Ethics:

I just finished reading “The Jordan Rules.” The book covers the Bulls’ 1990-1991 championship run.

One thing stuck out to me near the end of the book. In the NBA Finals against the Lakers, the Bulls worked two big advantages. First, they found a book of the Lakers’ plays that were left behind. Second, they looked over at the Lakers’ bench and heard what play the Lakers called and then relayed it to their team.

The second one sticks out to me because of how different sports treat play and sign stealing. In football, teams change their signs all the time because they know the opponent is trying to steal them. In baseball, the Astros are villains because they worked to steal signs in an elaborate system. And in basketball, every team does what the Bulls do. They all watch film/video and know the play calls and try and figure them out. Basketball teams don’t seem to mix up their calls that often and accept that teams will know a lot of their plays.

The distinction offered is that baseball makes it illegal, so what the Astros did is uniquely bad. But why was that ever the rule? And why does baseball consider sign stealing so evil while basketball accepts it and doesn’t care?