LYNCHBURG, Va.— With college basketball suffering a public identity crisis, a fixture of University of Colorado athletics, Ceal Barry, will be among those attempting to clean up at least the Pac-12 Conference's corner of the basketball world.
A month ago, during the Pac-12 Conference basketball media days, the league announced the formation of a task force that will investigate and examine the various issues currently marring college basketball. The announcement occurred in the immediate aftermath of the FBI investigation that resulted in the arrests of four prominent assistant coaches on various fraud and bribery charges, including a pair from the Pac-12 — Tony Bland from USC and Emanuel "Book" Richardson from Arizona. Arizona and USC are heavy favorites to lead the Pac-12 standings this season.
At the time, the league revealed the first half of the task force with the promise of more in the future. That finally occurred this week with Barry being added to the task force roster. Barry led the CU women's basketball program to national prominence during her 22-year career at the Buffs' coach, finishing with a win total of 427 that is the largest for any coach in any sport in the school's history. She moved into an administration role following the 2004-05 season and currently serves as CU's senior associate athletic director.
Joining Barry among the newcomers to the task force are former Stanford basketball player Brevin Knight; Former UCLA coach and current basketball broadcaster Steve Lavin; Alan Green, USC's Pac-12 faculty representative; Bob Myers, the general manager of the Golden State Warriors and a former player at UCLA; Former Stanford basketball star Jennifer Azzi; and Yogi Roth, a former football player and coach at USC who also works at the Pac-12 Network.
Last month, the initial list of task force members included Hall of Fame basketball coach Mike Montgomery; Utah athletic director Chris Hill; USC athletic director Dan Guerrero; Former USC football star and Stanford administrator Charles Davis; and longtime basketball administrator Tom Jernstedt.
The group held its first meeting Wednesday and plans to share its findings over the next five months with the Pac-12 CEO Group in March.
"We are very fortunate to have assembled such a high caliber, experienced and diverse group of individuals for our Pac-12 Task Force," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in a statement. "We held a very productive and engaged first meeting. We look forward to tackling head on the issues at hand and proposing meaningful, effective reforms to support our student-athletes, the integrity of college basketball, and college athletics as a whole."
Freshman guard McKinley Wright continued the impressive start to his collegiate career during Saturday night's win against Drake, as his nine assists surpassed the total of seven he compiled during CU's first three games.
Given the Buffs have struggled from the 3-point line — CU is 19-for-71 (.268) on the young season — head coach Tad Boyle expects the assist rate for both Wright and the team to continue to increase. Chances are, proven shooters like George King and Dominique Collier will not continue at a combined 3-for-22 pace.
In the two games of the Paradise Jam so far, the Buffs are just 8-for-37 on 3-pointers.
"This is a good 3-point shooting team," Boyle said. "When we start knocking down those 3s, those assist numbers for McKinley are going to go up big time."
After being relocated from the U.S. Virgin Islands due to the hurricane damage the region suffered this fall, the games at Liberty University's Vines Center have been sparsely attended. That's no fault of King, who has bolstered the CU cheering section with his sizeable contingent of family members.
King spent his early childhood in Fayettville, N.C., and he has played the first two games of the Paradise Jam in front of many family members that have never seen him play before. King admitted having his family behind the CU bench has been somewhat nerve-wracking.
"I don't want to let them down," said King, who turned in a solid effort in Saturday's win against Drake with 14 points and seven rebounds. "Hopefully I'm not. They've got high expectations of me and I've got high expectations of myself. I can hear them cheering for me and for the team. It's fun. The Virginia side, my dad's side of the family, has never seen me play and that's really special. That's moments myself and they will cherish forever."
Sunday's matchup in the Paradise Jam title game will be the third matchup between CU and Mercer. The Buffs won both previous meetings — winning 78-61 on Dec. 6, 1991 and 117-74 on Dec. 22, 2005...Senior forward Tory Miller had a solid outing Saturday against Drake, going 5-for-6 from the floor and finishing with 11 points...Following Sunday's game the Buffs will be idle for a week before hosting Air Force on Nov. 26.